Aug. 13, 2014
"Very productive night again, any time you can get out and have game situations, game speed repetitions, SEC officials, is very beneficial for your football team. As a whole, I didn't like our approach, I thought we lacked intensity, gave up way too many big plays defensively. I didn't think we came to play defensively, too many pre-snap penalties on offense. Again, a lot of teaching moments, a lot of teaching opportunities. Some individuals now are starting to distance themselves from the pack, so we will go back tonight, we will grad the film and we will start to define people's roles on this football team in moving forward. But again, it is understanding every body is sore right now, everyone is going through the middle camp, and it is that mental conditioning, that mental toughness that you have to have within yourself to push yourself. That intensity in which we talk about each and every day. Some good things, but again we have to take great, great strides in moving forward. Our practice opportunities are starting to become very, very minimal before our first game. It is everyone, it is our older players taking accountability to lead the younger players that have never been through the grind of a college football training camp. And so, again, I was just not pleased with our overall mentality, intensity by which it takes to compete at a high level."
(On the items the team has to accomplish in the coming weeks)
"First of all it is controlling the things that we can control. That is our effort, that is our mentality, that is our fundamentals, that is just our overall intensity and physicality. Those are the things that we can control, being a disciplined football team. We had way too many pre snap penalties tonight, I believe we had five of them. You can't expect to win football games with pre snap penalties. Gave up way too many big plays, defensively I didn't think we tackled particularly well. Again, a lot of game like situations coming out, one minute drill, four minute offense, A lot of things, digesting, not only their assignments and their techniques but also situational football as well. Again, we are trying to jump the learning curve. I wasn't particularly pleased with our overall intensity. The last time we came in this great arena I could feel the intensity, I could feel the excitement, I didn't feel it tonight. The shoulder responsibilities is our older players, our seniors, the few that we have, our veteran players, but it is everyone, it is everyone taking self-accountability for their actions and getting themselves ready to play."
(On managing players and creating depth)
"Everyone has to come out and everyone has to play, again, it is game speed repetitions. It is just responsibility. It is every players responsibility to get themselves ready to play each and every time you step on to the football field. As a football player you never stay the game, you either get better or you get worst, through you habits. Because everything is about conditioning your habits, everything is habit forming. Some individuals are starting to distance themselves and some individuals are kind of enduring. We can never endure a practice, you don't get better, some of them are just getting by and you have to embrace it as an opportunity to continue to improve your skill set."
(On Justin Worley stepping forward tonight)
"He did. I thought Justin, again, I see the confidence growing and growing, I thought Nate Peterman and I thought Josh Dobbs did some great things. Just the overall consistency, I know they have word bingo going on, you hear the word consistency all the time because consistency is what separates average players from good players to great players. Consistency in our snaps, we are still not there with the accuracy with our snaps, being perfect. To run our offense, our center has to step it up with their shot gun snaps. Again, pre snap penalties, tackling, we did a lot of special teams live as well. We have great video evaluation to be able to go back and look at our coverage teams as well.
(On big plays an indictment of defense or offense stepping up)
"Well it's a combination of both. I thought Josh Malone stepped up. Josh Smith continues to have a very good and productive training camp. He made some plays. Jason Crew made some plays. Von Pearson made some plays. So those individuals did a very, very good job. Alton Howard continues to make plays. But again, it's the overall consistency all the time. And I didn't think we played the ball exceptionally well on defense, and we've been playing the ball well all training camp. Again, you have to fight through. As a corner, you're going to give up a big play. That's the nature of the position. It's that snap and clear mentality. Play the next play having short term memory, and I thought we let a play affect us three plays later down the road and that's part of that maturation process by which we talk about. We had a lot of young players reps tonight, which is great to see as well. They really put their identity on film and video."
(On if the schematic overload is leading to problems)
"Yeah we have a lot of installation and it comes down to execution and the downloading of information and being able to play fast. But that's not an excuse. Our older players have actually done a great job of really mentoring the younger players in terms of their assignments and spending time. But again, you have to be able to play fast. Football is a game played by intelligent people. You have to think fast and make split second decisions."
(On if he had higher expectations after changing the practice schedule)
"Well yes, but I understand the grind that these individuals are going through. We had a practice inside a couple of days ago. I thought our intensity was outstanding. We came. It was physical. Everything so much in today's world of college football and about sport in general is about recovery. It's about the sports science end of it. And everyone wants to talk about fancy waterfalls, and everyone wants to talk about this and that in recruiting, but it's about science. I'm very proud of what we have here at Tennessee. It starts with rest. It starts with nutrition with Allison Maurer. She does a great job. And it's basically a five prong approach that we have in our sport science department. You know it starts with strength and conditioning. It starts in the training room. It starts in the operations part of it. It starts in the training room. And it starts with academics. We take great pride in our sport science. They need all the time individually to talk about every single player. It's all about the personal growth and development. We do a great job. It's the hydration. You know your pillow and your mouth are very, very important because it's sleeping. It's hydration. I've given you a lot of things to talk about. You're loving it aren't you? It's how you take care of your bodies, and it's your hydration and your nutrition. A lot of young players really, really struggle with that end of it. You need nine hours of sleep. There's a study that has been done about the percentages of rest and injury prevention. Young players struggle with that, and it's getting all things that championship teams do to take care of yourself."
(On how close he is to naming a QB and if they're doing what they need to differentiate themselves)
"Yeah they are. I'm hoping in maybe the next day or two we'll make that decision. I think it's important for our football team moving forward that they know who the starting quarterback is. I've been pleased with all three individuals lately. They've done a very, very good job of handling the volume of the offense that we have, but more particularly taking care of the football and making great decision with the football, having command of the line of scrimmage. We'll go back tonight. We've charted every single throw every quarterback has made in practice. And we're getting very short to name. We're very soon to name a quarterback."
(On Josh Malone's performance tonight)
"He's had a tough camp and I'm very proud of him. He fought back. He's been battling some injuries and I thought tonight, he really stepped it up. So it was very encouraging. Josh Malone is a very prideful individual. He expects to do great things and it's a part of that maturity level when things don't go quite as well or the way you plan it, which is life, how to you handle the next snap? How do you bounce back? And I thought he bounced back exceptionally well and was very proud of him tonight moving forward."
(On who stood out on defense)
"You know, I'll know a little bit more when I watch the video. It's a little too soon to look at that, so I will know a little bit more when I watch the video."
(On determining whether a play was good for offense or defense)
"Well, there's a lot of things that you look at. First of all with a big play, was it produced because of a mistake or was it just a player making a good play? And maybe a great throw. A lot of times, players make plays. Sometimes there is great coverage and he just goes out and makes a great play. The thing we can't tolerate, the thing that is unacceptable, is big plays that lead to mistakes. Blown assignments, a lack of technique, loss of leverage on the football, mental errors cost football teams. So when I look at it, it's how was the play made? Was it a player making a great play? Where did the breakdown occur? And that's football. Great players go make plays. The thing we can't accept is how were the made? Were they made by a mental error, a missed tackle. Those are all things that I'm looking at when I'm watching it."
(On A.J. Johnson's involvement tonight)
"Yeah, A.J. was out there gaining some valuable repetitions and getting him game ready. You just can't hold a player back. He has to make sure he's ready to go and even though he's played a lot of football for us, of course he needs those repetitions, which he gained tonight."
(On trying to hold A.J. Johnson back in practice)
"Oh yeah, he's very competitive. He wants to be in there all the time."
(On what he's seen from special teams)
A work in progress. Still nowhere where we need to be with our kick coverage teams. Again the football endurance. It's been an eye-opening experience for a lot of these young players. For first year players, you're on defense and now all of a sudden you have to go play special teams as well. And that's the other thing we talked about, overload. Sometimes it's not just the offensive and defensive schemes, it's special teams. A lot of other things are in there as well."
(On the weight given to a scrimmage vs. practice)
"Well obviously, when you're scrimmaging and the lights are on, you want to see who can make plays. The other thing is, you know, everything is about game management. We had coaches up in the press box tonight so it was a total game situation. So you're also seeing what players can think for themselves out there, how they communicate with each other when the coaches are off the field. So a lot goes into that as well. But it's an overall body of work, from Practice 1 all the way to Practice 29 leading up to the first game."
(On Cortez McDowell and Todd Kelly getting reps tonight)
"Yeah, they gained some valuable repetitions, not only on defense but also on special teams. We'll go back and evaluate them just like we'll evaluate everyone."
(On the importance of a big crowd for Saturday's open practice)
"Well, it's very important. I know our fan base will respond and again, we're going to treat it almost like a preseason game. There are so many unknowns with this football team. How will they respond when there's people in the stands? Will the stage be too big for them or do they block it out? You know, that's all clutter and distractions. You always have to focus between the white lines and play football. So again, it will be a great evaluation tool for us and see how they compete."