Aug 16, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A day after the pageantry of unveiling the Vols new adidas uniforms, it was back to the practice field for Team 117. Butch Jones continues to harp of the Volunteers, the need to make progress.
"I thought it was a productive day today," he said. "But we are no where where we need to be. This is where we have to keep grinding."
Tennessee will return to action on Saturday with an open practice at Neyland Stadium getting underway at 6:50 p.m. Jones is looking for a huge showing.
"I'm expecting a big crowd tomorrow," said. Jones. "We need to get that home field advantage back. We have a great passionate fan base. I know our players are just looking forward to competing in Neyland, competing in front of our fans. We are going to need them."
As far as the format, the Vols won't run a full scrimmage, Jones will put the team through a normal practice. "What can fans expect tomorrow?" Jones said."They're going to see a practice. They're going to see some individual periods. The neat thing is they're going to see some one-on-ones. They're going to see wide receiver versus DB (defensive back) and we're going to call them out. So, they're going to have to step up in front of a great crowd and do one-on-ones. They're going to see some scrimmage situations.
Jones will be showing the crowd a team that he has spent 15 practices in the spring and now 15 practices in fall camp molding.
"A team that plays extremely hard that has taken great strides, but again, this is another evaluation tool for us. We're going to play anywhere from 13-16 or 17 true freshmen, so this is an evaluation tool for me. They didn't have a spring game. They haven't played in that venue when there are people in the stands. I have to see which guys are going to perform under those conditions."
COMPETITION FUELING FERGUSON
The Vols are 15 practices in and not much has changed behind center. After Friday's practice, Coach Jones reiterated that no starter has been named and that all four signal callers were still in the competition.
However, with the Tennessee quarterbacks being live today, one man did stand out.
"Today we made the quarterbacks live and the individual who stepped up was Riley Ferguson," said Jones.
Coach Jones quickly added that the freshman was by no means the starter and the battle was ongoing.
"Don't write about it... He's not the starting quarterback," Jones said. "We don't have a starting quarterback right now, so don't put words in my mouth. But I thought he showed some poise. The thing I liked about him was his pocket presence. He doesn't get rattled. He made some big throws."
After mentioning the possibility of having 13-17 true freshmen starters this season, Coach Jones was asked about starting a rookie at quarterback.
"I'm just trying to find the best quarterback who manages our offense, and puts us in the best situations to win football games," said Jones. "It doesn't matter if he's a freshmen or a sophomore. It doesn't matter. We're going to put the best players on the field that are going to help us win. We're a long ways away from naming a starting quarterback."
All four QBs have shown improvement through camp, and Coach Jones believes it's the day in and day out competition that's really pushing them.
"I think all four of them are getting better and better," Jones said. "I think that's because of the competition. They can't take a day off. When they walk into the meeting room, if they're not bringing their best mentally, they're going to get passed up. I think that has elevated everyone's game. That's what we need to have in our entire football program."
THE STRIPES COME OFF
Two more newcomers to the program have had their black stripes removed. On Thursday morning, Draw Bowles removed the stripe of JUCO transfer receiver Johnathon Johnson. On Friday, freshman defensive lineman Jaylen Miller's stripe was also taken off by 'big brother' Daniel Hood. That brings the Vols' totals of stripe removals to seven.
"The stripes keep coming off," said Jones. "I have really been proud of our big brothers because they have been demanding. They are making the freshmen earn their stripes so to speak so that has been great."
THE NEWEST JOHNSON
In a crowd of fresh faces on the Tennessee football team one has really stood out to Butch Jones.
He doesn't tower over the crowd and isn't overly loud, but his play has spoken volumes to Jones through the first few weeks of fall camp.
Blinn College transfer Johnathon Johnson has shown Jones something that he wants to see in all of his players.
"[He has] consistency in his performance," said Jones. "He is extremely competitive so he has added another element to the dynamics of the receiver room in terms of a competitive environment."
There are many new faces in the wide receiver corps that have been making a name for themselves and providing competition to the young group.
Johnson is one of them.
"He is consistent, he is extremely smart and he is reliable," said Jones. "You win with reliable, tough, smart, instinctual football players."
ONLY 15 DAYS UNITL...
The Vols will open the 2013 campaign against Austin Peay on Aug. 31. To purchase season tickets, go to UTTix.com.