Aug. 9, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vols were forced to rush inside after rain fell towards the end of practice. The impromptu location served as an obstacle for head coach Butch Jones' team to overcome.
"It's the first time we've had some adverse situations occur with the weather," said Jones. "Wish it'd get hotter - some individual straggling so that's the time where you have to push through."
And push through they did. Finishing practice better than the way they started according to Jones.
"I thought we picked it up and again we can't have any bad practices," he said. "Great teams, championship football teams, they understand they have to have a workman like approach every day they approach the football field. It's to win championships, it's to get better individually, to improve collectively and that where we're still not there yet with this football team."
Despite the unexpected move, a focus was still on consistency. Jones acknowledged that while still much to learn, he was happy with the teams spirit and willingness. "This group is comprised of very prideful individuals," said Jones. "They understand and the thing we have to do is take that emotional part out of them and build passion to consistency. I don't like emotional football teams because emotional people are up and down in the consistency factor.
"We have to be a team that just goes to work every day. We're building that process and I see us getting better each and every day."
COLEMAN IN CHARGE
Heading into the 2013 season, Justin Coleman is one of the most experienced Vols at the cornerback position.
Coleman played in all 12 games for the Vols in 2012, starting in nine of them, and has seen action in all 24 games for Tennessee since arriving on Rocky Top.
This is why he is being looked to by head coach Butch Jones as a leader in the secondary.
"[The cornerbacks] need to model their games after Justin Coleman, in terms of the way he prepares for practice day in and day out," said Jones. "He is the leader of that group. He takes coaching. He is a starter on every special teams."
"He has great endurance and he has the mindset of a great corner," continued Jones. "He is intense on every single rep and he is competing to get better each and every day. I can't say enough about Justin Coleman. He is probably one of our most consistent performers right now on defense."
High praise like that does not happen every day from Jones, who calls out players during practice for mistakes regularly.
Coleman takes it in stride and knows he has been through a lot to get to where he is right now, but also has a long way to go.
"I am a little experienced," said Coleman. "I have seen a lot of bad things happen, I have been through it. My key thing is doing everything right. Listening to the coach, watching film, getting in there and watching more film with the younger guys."
"The thing that changed the most is my mentality," said Coleman. "I am thinking about doing everything to the best of my ability. What I was really thinking about was trying to do things right so I can lead these boys down the right path."
Coleman knows that being deemed a leader by the head man is a great compliment and knows that though there may be pressure with the roll, he is ready to step up.
"There is always pressure, but I am trying to help the younger guys and even the older guys," said Coleman. "Try and show them how to do right and show them how to do it because I am one of the people who has been here for a while and I know how to do the drills right."
"Not everybody gets the privilege to play at Tennessee. It is just something that I take pride in. I love it here."
NOTHING LIKE NEYLAND
Entering his final of four campaigns on Rocky Top, senior offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James has never missed a start - a perfect 37-for-37. Twenty-two of those have come at the home of the Vols, Neyland Stadium.
With just seven home games remaining in his career, James relishes any chance to step on Shields-Watkins Field. Saturday night's scrimmage gives the Suwanee, Ga., native that opportunity in early August.
"I love it," James said. "I only have seven more times so as many practices as I can get in there, I'll be happy to do it. I only have seven more opportunities to play in there."
In addition to those seven Saturday's throughout the season, James is also looking forward to August 17.
"I'm really looking forward to the open practice where the fans can come," said James. "Anytime we can get in Neyland and play, it's a fun time."
As for what Coach Jones is looking to gain from tomorrow's 11-on-11, James believes it to be game-like experience.
"Just seeing the guys we can count on in a game time situation and getting a chance to see these young guys out there in Neyland," James said. "He wants to find our guys."
VEREEN UNDER GOES MENISCUS SURGERY
"Like I told you before, each individual is different with the healing process so it's really hard to set a time table," said Jones. "But right now just looking at things it could be, internally, it could be 5 weeks, 6 weeks. I know one thing about him. He's going to be motivated to get back and that helps us a lot with the healing process."
Vereen, a freshman defensive end from Winter Garden, Fla. was the recipient of a lot of praise during the spring. A defensive end, Vereen was expected to compete for "LEO" defensive end playing time.
Freshman Cameron Sutton's helmet was a tad lighter on Friday as he became the first newcomer to have the black stripe removed from his helmet during training camp. His 'big brother' Brian Randolph removed the stripe Thursday morning in the team meeting.
A players new to the program wear a black stripe on their helmets until it is deemed by their older mentor that they are worthy of having the stripe removed.
PIG PUSHING FOR PLAYING TIME
If sophomore Pig Howard has learned one thing throughout the Tennessee Vols' preseason camp, it is that there is always competition among the wide receivers.
"It is a big competition," Howard said. "This is camp. This is where spots are taken and plays are made. This is going to show a lot, coach is going to evaluate us and some players are going to step up and overall this is going to be a big show of how we are going to do this season."
While a number of Howard's competition comes from the freshmen class, he knows that in the end, it is a team effort.
They [the freshmen] are coming out every day and one thing I am proud of is they are learning fast and that is something I am looking very forward to in playing with them," Howard said. "Marquez [North], [Ryan] Jenkins, and Josh [Smith], all of them. We are looking forward to see them step up big."
After playing in 10 games last season and working hard in the offseason, Howard has realized that a big way to win such competition is by knowing and understanding your playbook, inside and out.
"I know the offense like the back of my head," said Howard. "The temple, that is something that you have to get used to mentally and physically, and overall I have seen experience and repetition throughout the spring and summer, going through routes, that got me better."
Howard, who is feeling way more comfortable with the playbook, is hoping that will pay off for him in the long run.
"The benefits are just being able to get the ball in the formations," Howard said. When you know it, Coach Bajakian draws up plays to get the ball in your hands, but I just think that isn't a hard thing for me. Being in your playbook is what is going to benefit you and better you in that situation."
WILLIAMS READY TO RISE UP
One such body, junior Jordan Williams, is fresh off his first lettering year and will look to impress defensive line coach Steve Stripling into possible playing time. "It's hard losing players like Jacques and Vereen but I mean, they'll be back and we just have to keep moving on," said Williams.
"I definitely am stepping up with Jacques being gone, because I'm behind Jacques right now, but it definitely time for me to step up and I mean everybody as a D-Line."
A native of Gainesville, Fla., the 6-5, 260 pound defensive lineman recorded five starts and appeared in ten games last season. He was ranked second behind Smith in the Vols' preseason depth chart.
"I feel like I'm more conditioned," he said. "The game's slow it down a lot more, feel like I'm more of a veteran player, a little bit older."
Despite maybe being the favorite to assume the defensive end role opposite of Marlon Walls, Williams insists that it's still a team effort.
"Yes, I mean definitely there's more of an opportunity, but we just have to step up as a whole," he said. "It's not individual, you know, but us as a whole, we just have to pull it together."
The Vols had two players return to the squad on Friday as quarterback Tyler Page and defensive back Tyler Coombes were back on Haslam Field. Both players were expected to rejoin the team when class began at UT on Aug. 21, but with several departures, they are now part of the training camp roster of 105 players. Junior running back Austin Bolen has left the program.
22 DAYS UNTIL...
The Vols will open the 2013 campaign against Austin Peay on Aug. 31. To purchase season tickets, go to UTTix.com.