"This week, a very, very important week for us as we move forward. I liked the mentality in the classroom today and then walking out there. A lot of fundamental improvements in the clock situations and scenarios that we must get practiced. But if you look at the video from Saturday night, great learning opportunity for us, great learning experience. But we much take tremendous, tremendous strides in moving forward this week with this football team, especially our style of play. I liked our energy, like I told you Saturday night, I liked our approach but we still haven't really learned how to finish plays and it is the second and the third efforts that go into being able to make the plays. So this week, along with fundamentally improvement, our schemes, moving forward with our schemes, overall style of play and really what it takes to play and make plays, the second, the third, the fourth efforts, the overall ability to finish plays. We must continue to grow and learn each and everyday. Again, classes are out now, more of a training camp environment, and we have to continue to demand from each other and move forward. We are getting closer to naming a starting quarterback. I am going to go back and watch the film this morning, a little bit tonight, but I expect if things go the way they have been going we will name a starting quarterback at some point this week. But again, I am not going to set any timeframes. If it happens, it happens. There are no deadlines, we have time, but again, I think we are getting closer to a decision in regards to our quarterback position. We are still creating our habits. Our younger players, everything is about habits, good and bad, even in walk-thru. If you don't have the intensity, the mental effort in a walk-thru just by the way you line up, the way you get in your stance, your practicing your performing poor habits and that translates on the game field. And again we are working on our maturity, no way are we game ready, but I did think we took some steps in moving forward Saturday night."
(On feelings about the scrimmage after watching the film)
"No, it was about what I thought walking off the field. Each position group made strides, some more than others. But I thought as a football team we gained some confidence, we have some individuals step up and make some big plays, we scrimmaged live special teams as well. So we are also trying to define roles for everyone in this football program. That has been the message to our team, a sense of urgency, we have individuals fighting for battles, fighting for positions on this football team. Not just offensively and defensively, but in the special teams game as well. As we all know, roles are always constantly evolving, roles change. Josh Dobbs is a prime example, he didn't even make the travel team when we played Florida last year and then a couple weeks later he is our starting quarterback. So you define roles but roles are ever changing. That is why it takes everyone locked in."
(On players losing their stripes)
"That is the other exciting thing today, we have four individuals have their black stripes removed, newcomers in our football program. Derek Barnett, Jalen Hurd, Emmanuel Moseley, and Ethan Wolf. So those four individuals, their stripes were removed and it was the players staff. Those four individuals have earned the right to have their stripes taken off. It is something that they will remember forever in their Tennessee careers and when your peers elect to have your stripe taken off, that is a pretty big deal. So very deservingly so. It is an illustration to the rest of the younger players that you are competing against each and every day. Everything from your body language to your approach in the meeting rooms, the way you take the practice field, to your style of play is being evaluated."
(On Alton `Pig' Howard)
"Alton Howard has been extremely consistent in his approach from the summer now into training camp. He is making plays for us. He is in better condition. He has changed his body. Just his overall demeanor. His concentration levels, his focus, and he needs to continue to now what has got him to this point. The effort, the focus, the change in lifestyle, being more disciplined and enjoying being around. I think our players have done a great job of holding him to a high standard of accountability, but it really comes down to him. Alton is a talented football player, that has not been the question. But it is getting the eight hours of sleep, getting the extra treatments, sitting in the cold tubs, spending extra time with Coach Z [Azzanni], not just knowing the slot position but knowing all the other receiver positions on the field. Being consistent in practice each and everyday. That is what we have seen so far from him. It is a tribute to him and it is a testament to him. Now the challenge is to keep it up for an entire length of a football season."
(On who has helped Howard be successful)
"It starts with him first and foremost. It is self accountability. But it is also his teammates holding him accountable and some of those players staff meetings were very, very intense. They laid out a structure, they laid out a plan that he had to adhere to. They held him accountable. But it starts with yourself. Football is a lifestyle and it is a dedication game. How much are you going to dedicate yourself to being the best person, best football player that you can be. There aren no off days. You have to think it, you have to live it, you have to be a part of it everyday. There is so much direct correlation, the way you live your life off the field, it is a direct correlation to how you win on the field. It goes hand and hand. I have seen it. Antonio Brown is another great illustration of what he is doing, best wide receiver in the National Football League, that doesn't happen by chance, that happens by dedication. Dedicating yourself to being the best football player you can be. A lot of times, especially your young players, you don't understand, in a 12 game season, four years of eligibility, you have 48 games to represent the University of Tennessee. You can't waste one opportunity and when you become young you forget, you have the rest of your life to do some of the other things. If you want to be the best student-athlete that you can be, you dedicate yourself, every second, every minute of the day is about your personal growth and development. Kenbrell Tompkins is another great illustration. That is the reason why they are performing at a high level. I had one of the most reward nights that I have had, I bet I talked to about 15 former players in the National Football League, about how their training camps are going, how they are progressing, their style of play, those are great illustrations for our current team right now.You are building habits that will form you, that will make you the person you are for a life time. That is part of our commitment, when we recruit a person at the University of Tennessee, all we say, it is a lifetime commitment to them. It is life changing because those great habits that they form will last a life time and will put them over the top and be the difference maker in their life."
(On Derek Barnett)
"Well there is a lot of things that go into it. First of all, his maturity, his maturity is being a true freshman, his work ethic, his mental approach, his consistency in performance each and every day. Not just on the field but in the classroom. It is great to see when a younger player earns the respect of his peers. Now he has to continue to earn that respect, he has not arrived, he is not game ready yet. But his ability to make plays but his overall effort and his demeanor has been great to see. Our player see that and that is why they have the respect that they have for him."
(On Von Pearson)
`Von Pearson has had a very quiet but very productive training camp. We are asking a lot of him to know all the receiver positions and he is doing a great job. He brings it everyday. We have been on him about the mental approach though. The mental errors, we cannot have mental errors. We have said it, you may get sick and tired of me saying it, but it is the truth. We can't control our youth and in experience, we have to control the controllables. What is it? Our mental approach everyday, our effort, our fundamentals, being assignment sound. What is the easiest way to lose a football game? Not play with great effort, be undisciplined, jump offsides, drop footballs, and have missed assignments. Those are all things that take zero talent, we call it TNT, takes no talent. So those are the things that we, with the young football team, we are constantly on them everyday. Control what you can control. That is winning the day, winning the rep, winning the play."
(On Pearson's ability with the ball)
"He is dynamic with the ball in his hands, now again it is that football stamina. Can you catch a pass and run after a catch for 40-yards, get up, hand the ball to the official, have another completion, advance the ball another 10-yards, get up, hand the ball to the official, and then run a deep ball. Is that in your mental conditioning, in your physical stamina, in your mental stamina. Do you have that within you. Those are all the things where he needs to improve his game, it starts with that, the overall stamina, mentally and physically."
(On Marlin Lane during the scrimmage)
"Marlin got some very beneficial reps, not only in the run game but out on the perimeter. But also in the pass protection game. In our wildcat package as well, our Vol package, which we will see a number of different running backs as well. His reps are very valuable. Again, him and Jalen continue to compete. And then when we get Derrell Scott back this evening, that will be great to see as well. Marlin has been extremely consistent for us."
(On NCAA rulings)
"I have been so caught up with our football program but I do know this, anything where we can take care of our student-athletes and provide them the things that they needs to be successful, not only on the field but off the field, I am in favor for it. It is all about the welfare and total development and benefit of the student-athlete. Anything that is within reason, I am all for. Again, I have been living in a bunker, I don't know too much around me but again I have been very supportive of taking care of our student-athletes."
(On Michael Sawyers)
"Work in progress, it gets back to the that physical stamina, him understanding what it takes to play at a high level, in terms of finishing plays. He is no where game ready where he needs to be. But what I like about Michael is he understands where he is at, he is able and he is willing. But again, everybody wants to be able to do something, everyone has goals and aspirations, but when the moment of truth comes, the moment of inconvenience, what do you do? Do you keep your goals in mind or do you step back. We have spoken to our young players and I think Michael is a great illustration of self talk. What are you saying to your self, are you talking to yourself or are you hearing yourself talk. That may sound kind of crazy but it really is. Everything is about self talk, what makes the Navy Seals the way they are? The mental conditioning, that is what separates great players. Every great player has great mental toughness. Look at Peyton Manning, there isn't anyone more mentally tough than Peyton Manning. Eric Berry. You just look at all of our players right now in the National Football League from Tennessee. All great players have that inner drive to be the best. We joke about it, but everyone says I am a beast, everyone wants to be the beast, but can you be the beast when the beast is needed. That is a term players like to use today but really there is a lot that goes into that."