Aug. 2, 2014
Head Coach Butch Jones
"Good to see everyone again, one change to the schedule, on Monday we are changing the practice time, so we will practice at 4 o'clock, we will begin at 4 o'clock. So when we evaluated this past Friday with school we just thought there was too much waiting around for our players with practice in the evening and waiting for school the next day. So we are going to change that. So we will practice on Monday at 4 o'clock. We will let you know as the week progresses what those times will be.
The big thing for us, we are looking for a level of consistency. A consistent approach day in and day out. How our team approaches the meetings, how they approach rest and recovery, how they approach the special teams end of it. And then also just overall practice. I think our conditioning levels are very, very good. We still have to get into football shape but we are able to go through an entire practice with the effort that we require. I have really been pleased with just the overall conditioning factors. But now tomorrow the uppers go on. We go to what we call shells now. So we will be able to thud a little bit and now the speed of the game should pick up. Obviously the physicality now will pick up. I will know a little bit more as we continue to progress with this football team."
(On the value of playmakers)
"It is invaluable and you really find out about it when you don't have enough of them. So everything is, in the world of college football it is all about big plays. Making impactful plays. How can you impact the game. Whether it is a big run, whether it is a key block, whether it is turning a 5-yard reception into a 35-yard reception. It is going up and making a play on the ball when the ball is at its highest point. When you look at the games we won last year, you look at the South Carolina game, we made a play third-and-nine with about 3 minutes to go, when Justin did a great job of hanging in the pocket and throwing the football up in a spot that only one person could catch it and Marquez North comes down with it. So again it is invaluable. We still need to continue to recruit, we are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of playmakers but I think you all can see that we have really benefited from recruiting this past year. But nowhere where we need to be. I have been really, really pleased with Ethan Wolf. I think Ethan Wolf continues to get better and better and better. An individual right now, two individuals that are out on the perimeter, Vic Wharton continues to do things with the ball in his hands and then Josh Smith as well. Josh Smith looks healthy, he looks fast, he looks elusive. So I have been very pleased with those three individuals. Along with a lot of other individuals but those three really show up when you watch from start to finish with our practice."
(On the tight end positions)
"We need production from that position. We like to play with a tight end but we would also like to get into two tight end sets as well. Each individual in this group has their own strengths but there athletic, they are tough, they need to stay in the weight room and get bigger but again, Ethan has the combination where he can be an attached tight end, he can be a detached tight end out on the perimeter. He has really improved his blocking skills, he has benefited from spring football along with Daniel Helm. So those two individuals I have been really pleased with so far. We will find out a little bit more now with the shells going on tomorrow."
(On the high expectations on Jalen Hurd)
"He does, that comes with, I think, he has been used to having those expectations placed upon him since he was probably in tenth or ninth grade. So he is used to those but it is how you mange those expectations, it is how they drive you each and every day. And it is not getting caught up in the clutter and the distractions. I said it in the introductory press conference for the start of the season, we have to be careful that we don't crown these individuals. They are still 17, 18 year old kids working to be young adults, they have never played one snap in a college football game right now. So we have to be careful that we don't, as coaches, put a lot on their table early. We have to just ease them in and the more they can do. It is like little buckets, every individual has a role on this football team, and you start with that and you continue to grow that role and expand upon it as training camp continues to progress. There is so much he has to learn, to pass protect, run routes, finish runs, but he has had a very, very good camp so far."
(On keeping Jalen Hurd grounded)
"Absolutely it is part of my job, but the great thing with Jalen is he understands that. He is very grounded, he is very humbled, it doesn't phase him. We tried early on in winter strength and conditioning to try to break him mentally and he is one of those individuals, he comes everyday and he is the same person everyday. We talk about consistency, consistency in performance, consistency in your approach. Jalen Hurd has been consistent everyday."
(On Jalen Hurd's position)
"That is outside chatter, we said it in the recruiting process, he is a running back. We trust what we see on film, how we evaluate it. He didn't have to prove any of that to us."
(On how Jalen Hurd has improved)
"The small details of playing that position. Pass protection, being number one, being a complete running back. We can go recruit rushers, or runners, we just give them the football, but you need to be a complete running back. How to you ball fake, how do you run routes from the backfield out on the perimeter, how do you pass protect. The small details at every position, he has really improved his craft."
(On Von Pearson)
"He fits the description of the energy bus. He is consistent each and every day. And he is grateful for the opportunity to be at the Tennessee. He is grateful to be able to play the game of football. For me, that is very, very rewarding. To see where that young man has come. The gratitude that he has each and everyday. He walks by me every day and taps me and says, `Thank you, Coach, Thank you for the opportunity.' The kids feed off of that and he is always positive. We talk about not only leadership but also being a good teammate and he is a good teammate as well."
(On the phrase `taking a bite out of the elephant')
"Well, you are going through a long training camp and it is on the power of one. One day at a time and quite simply, how do you eat an elephant? One day at a time. It is kind of a visual for them and you have to focus on that one bite at a time when you are taking a bite out of training camp. We have to get the most out of each and every day. We can have no bad days. We have to have great energy, we have to have great mental effort and great mental intensity each and every day. And for a young football team that is a challenge in itself. But we have really challenged them since they reported a couple days ago and so far so far. But again, tomorrow is another challenge and we have to learn from today and we are only as good as our last practice. So another opportunity to get better."
(On if he liked the team's mental approach today)
"I did. I liked the way we started the day. We did a offensive and defensive walk through with blitz pickup. I thought our communication was very good, I thought we took mental reps. It is not just the physical reps, it is the mental reps and it takes a maturity level to be able to focus when you are not in, watch your position and ask questions. So that is why every rep is valuable, whether it is a physical rep or whether it is a mental rep. It is critical. With this football team, everything is about accuracy first. We have to be accurate. We spoke about mental errors, we still had too many mental errors in the first practice and we had some today and that is what costs you football games, mental errors. You can control that. That is on everyone in our football program. That is that individual taking accountability for their actions, their preparations, their study, and being able to make quick, appropriate decisions on the field."
(On Cody Blanc's injury)
"We are still waiting. He was supposed to have a MRI so I have not heard anything yet but as soon as I know something I will make sure you are aware of that."
(On the tight end position)
"We have some depth and we have some competition. As we know, everything in our football program is about competition. So to be able to go out there and have these individuals competing is great and that elevates the play of everyone."
(On Charles Mosley)
"He has been back since reporting day. He is getting the rehabilitation that he needs, he is still around in the meetings, and so it is great because he is another Von Pearson. He is always up, he is always positive. To be able to have him around our team is very good. Good for him and good for our team as well."
(On if Mosley will return this season)
"We don't anticipate him being back for this year."
(On Brendan Downs feeling healthy)
"It helps. Brendan has game experience and he has done a great job of coming back from his injury and working himself into very good condition. He is being challenged each and every day. But Brendan Downs is a team player, he is from Tennessee, he understands what it is to represent this storied football program and he works hard every single day."