Players' Monday Week 1 Press Conference

Aug 26, 2013

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Ja'Wuan James, Antonio Richardson, Donatvis Sapp and Justin Worley met with the media on Monday to discuss the Vols' opener vs. Austin Peay.

Junior Quarterback Justin Worley

(On being told he was the starter)
"It was an individual meeting with him (Coach Jones) and our offensive coordinator Coach Jake (Bajakian). He (Jones) basically said `You're our guy going into Week One.' He told me that he didn't want me to have any worries, looking over my shoulder, or things like that about playing the position. Basically, he told me to take the control of this team, this is your team, and take this opportunity and run with it.

(On if he had a sense of relief from being named starter)
"A little bit, yes ma'am. I guess just knowing officially that I'm the starter, there is a sense of relief. It's an honor and a privilege to play quarterback here."

(On if he expected to be named starter this morning)
"He (Coach Jones) officially broke it to me last night, so I guess after hearing that, yeah. I felt like I had done enough to win the spot, and I guess taking most of the "1" reps kind of gave me an idea of what the news was going to be."

(On how to keep the starting job)
"Just going in and managing the offense as well as I can, and doing everything they ask me to do. A lot of it is protecting the football and running the up-tempo offense, so just being able to do that as best as I can."

(On being louder)
"I wouldn't say it's that hard for me, but I think he (Coach Jones) wants a little more. Just continually learning how to lead, and how each guy responds to different styles of leadership, whether or not you need to get on them hard or just coach them, so just continually learning about each and every one of my teammates."

(On playing in his first college game)
"I was shocked that I was playing because I thought going into that season, I had the mindset that I would be redshirted. Playing against Alabama when I came in was a little bit of a shock, but then I had to adjust pretty quick going into the next week."

(On initial thoughts when told he was going into Alabama game)
"I was a little shocked that they were going to put me in, especially in that situation. When I walked out there, I thought `I haven't played football against anyone other than my own team in a year.' It was a good feeling to be out there."

(On first play being from 1 yard line)
"The first play we ran power and fumbled, and then the next drive we started on the one yard line going out." (On if he'd prepared the freshman quarterbacks for what lay ahead)
"We haven't really talked about that a whole lot. I guess through the grind of camp we've been trying to go each and every day and focus on what we can do. We haven't really talked about the future, and what they can expect when they play."

(On preparing in the offseason to be the starter)
"Yesterday I met with the running backs, and we watched some film together of Austin Peay. I guess it's just doing little things like that and talking with different position groups and really getting to know each and every guy individually. I think that helped in being able to lead them, teach them, and being someone that they can follow."

(On how confident he was that he'd be the starter)
"Nobody knew until the official statement was made. With everybody getting 1's reps here and there, it was still very competitive until Coach Jones made the decision."

(On preparation outside of practice)
"A lot of it's film work, a lot of it's talking to the guys, especially about the opponent and what they're seeing, wideouts and what they're seeing from corners and DB's, offensive line and what their seeing from the fronts and defensive linemen, as well what we're watching. It's just being on the same page as everybody as a whole group."

(On the speed of the offense)
"I think we've definitely made strides in our speed of play. We hit a little lull about 2 weeks into camp were we had a lot of new installs and things like that where we definitely had to slow things down and maybe teach a little more but I think we're definitely a faster team than you saw Orange and White game.

(On how he has improved)
"My leadership is the main thing and also understanding of game situations and the offense as a whole"

(On the freshmen receivers)
"They made huge strides come practice one to however many fall camp practices we had and even going into this game week. I'm excited to see what they can do on the field in a live situation under the lights. I think they'll be able to perform well. Josh Smith is a smart guy, Pig Howard is a playmaker inside - a little quick twitch guy. Marquez North is a big target. He go up and get a ball and can break away from people."

(On Marquez North being ahead of the other freshmen)
"Yea, I feel that way. I don't know what it is that sets him apart other than his physical skill set. He had a very very strong fall camp."

(On how practice changes now that he's the starter)
"I guess it's just preparation for the game now. Both Coach Jones and Coach Jake told me, `don't hold back now'. I guess maybe during fall camp there were times where I was extra careful with the football, trying not to make that mistake or whatever. But they told me don't worry about making that mistake. Go out, play your hardest and perform as well as you can."

(On the offensive line and the protection he receives.)
"I have the utmost faith in the offensive line and our running backs in protection as well as running the football. Knowing that those guys have the game experience that they do, it gives me some confidence going into the game."

(On staying out of third and long)
"Yea, for sure you always want to stay out of third and long. First and second down are going to be huge for us - gaining positive yards in four downs on first down. If we don't convert on first down and second down at least having a third and medium or a third short situation which are pretty good in terms of converting."

(On Cam Sutton)
"Yea, Cam had a great fall camp. I think 6 or 7 interceptions. Just always around the football making plays. When [Sapp] said that, I can agree with that statement."

(On Brian Randolph being back)
"Yea, Brian has a great aspect to the secondary. He's a physical guy, makes plays, and is good in coverage as well. He's progressed well from his injury and should be ready to go."

(On if he was too careful because he thought the starting job was his to lose)
"I wouldn't say I was just going in trying not to lose it. I was going in trying to progress as well as I could in my understanding of the offense and management of the game. Here and there maybe I wouldn't make the throw into double coverage and check it down, just trying to be smart - trying to play smart football that's all I meant by saying that. I didn't try to force throws."

(On running as a quarterback in high school)
"My senior year we did, more so than the year before. So I did run the ball a little bit."

Senior Defensive Lineman Dontavis Sapp

(On being eager for his first start)
"I wouldn't call it eager. I'm just ready for the opportunity to go out there and play once again. Getting to start is even better."

(On if camp was different going through as a starter)
"Not really. The 1's and 2's pretty much got the same amount of reps. This camp it just means that I went in earlier."

(On the secondary being ready)
"I think it's kind of tough to say right now but I think we prepared enough. Especially Cam Sutton. They guy always comes in and works hard. He's always asking what can he do better. Did I get the call playing linebacker that he makes to me. He work's hard I think he'll be ready."

(On the unknown elements and how the team will do of Saturday)
"That's tough to say. Not there to play yet. We'll see. I really can't say. We watch a lot of film on these guys. Both teams. I guess we'll see Saturday."

Junior Offensive Lineman Antonio Richardson

(On if they were shocked to be named starters)
"I was shocked (laughing). I thought I wasn't going to make it, but it's good to know."

(On how eager he is to get the season started)
"We're very eager. A lot of young players, we're just really ready to get out there and show them what we can do. We're not going to take any opponent lightly. Austin Peay, whoever it may be, we're just going to go out there with aspirations of winning and see what we can do to win some."

(On if he liked what he saw from the team in camp)
"I did. I felt like every day we came out to work. The player staff, we promised coach that we'd have no bad practices and I felt like we kept our promise. So, I felt pretty confident coming out of camp."

(On Coach Jones not wanting them to be emotional players)
"The biggest thing to coach, he said, "I don't want you playing with emotion, but I want you playing with passion." Basically he's saying he wants us to be consistent. He thinks that emotional teams are up and down up and down, so he just wants a team that's like a McDonald's team like he would say. A team that's going to be consistent."

(On what makes him confident that Marquez North and Cameron Sutton can come in and contribute right away)
"Just their maturity overall. They come in every day to work. Especially, me I get to see Marquez (North) every day. So, seeing his worker's mentality come in every day, getting in the film room, that's looking good."

(On if the offensive line set a goal of how many yards rushing they will get this season)
"We really haven't. We really just said that we're going to go out there and do our best. We feel like we've got some talented running backs. We're just going to go out there and do our job and let the stats take care of themselves."

(On how Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have progressed)
"I feel like they've progressed really well. Rajion, going to the sixth game of the season, he was like the leading rusher in the SEC before he hurt himself. So, I am really confident with him back there. He's matured a lot especially."

(On difference between freshman quarterbacks)
"Riley Ferguson has gotten some reps with the ones a few times. He is really loud and commanding in the huddle. That is the thing that he has improved on the most."

(On what you are looking forward to most)
"I think we are just looking forward to winning. The biggest thing is that we haven't won much in the past few years, and it is a new era now. We have been focusing on our effort. That is what you will see a lot more out of this team this year is effort."

(On what you now about Austin Peay)
"We know they have a new coaching staff, and we have been watching film of them from last year, but we know we are going to be ready for whatever. We know their base front is a "BEAR," and they extend to a "BEAR" front a lot. We don't know what to expect, but we will be ready."

Senior Offensive Lineman Ja'Wuan James

(On if they were surprised that Justin Worley was named the starter)
"It really doesn't matter to us. As offensive linemen our job is to rush the ball and protect the quarterback. So, whoever's behind us, we're going to block for them."

(On if he saw that Worley stood out and carried himself as a starter)
"No, it's pretty close between everybody. Everybody's bringing different things to the table quarterback wise, but like I said, whoever's back there this year, they're going to be protected."

(On if they have helped Worley become more vocal)
"Yeah because he's back there trying to call the plays and stuff like that. So, he's just got to say it a little louder because coach is playing all the baby noises and stuff like that on the speakers and we're going to be out there in front of 100,000 so he's just got to speak a little louder."

(On what makes them confident that Marquez North and Cameron Sutton can come in and contribute right away)
"I'd say the same thing about Marquez (North). You can tell the difference in his maturity level and some of the other freshmen. That's why their giving him this opportunity and we need him to step up right now. He's done a good job asking question if he needs something and just really buying in."

(On if the offensive line set a goal of how many yards rushing they will get this season)
"The only goals we really set are, we have three of them: to play tough, to play smart, and then to play physical. Those are our three goals and Coach Mo (Mahoney) said anything else, we take care of that."

(On how Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have progressed)
"Yeah and Marlin as well. Marlin's been doing a lot better and Rajion, but I feel like we've got a group of guys behind us that are going to do well this season. So, it's up to us to make sure they do well."

(On going from one of the worst to best offensive line in the conference)
"It feels like yesterday, which you know, that's what we learn from. I feel like that's why we're here right now where we are because everyone in our room just constantly works. We never get too down on ourselves. We never get too high either. We just come to work every day and we listen to our coaches and take everything they have to say."

(On being a senior)
"I'm definitely proud of everybody in the room: Zach Fulton, James Stone, Tiny, myself, and even the younger guys. I'm proud of everybody that stuck through it and kept working. We were trying to reach goals, and we were able to reach them."

(On looking back at first game of career)
"It was crazy. I remember running through the T. I felt kind of lost just looking up at the fireworks and stuff like that. I was a nervous wreck. It was against UT Martin, but I was good after the first play."

(On advice for freshman)
"I am excited for them. I know I was nervous back then, but at the same time I was excited. I had guys like Chris Walker and Nick Reveiz that inspired me to go out there and play confident. I have talked to several of them saying go out there and play confident and prepare. If you prepare well, you can go out there and be confident."

(On confidence in being able to run the ball)
"I feel confident, and the type of formations that we are running, if they have nine in the box, we are going to hit somebody with a bubble, or we are going to spread them out. If there is nine in the box, then it is our job to get that nine in the box. I feel confident in all five guys and tight ends can do it."

(On advice to Justin Worley being the alpha male in the huddle)
"He is a junior now so it is his job to be that alpha male now. Like you said, I was soft spoken. I was just listening to the leaders and things like that, but he need to be more of a leader, and he has done that more this summer and at camp. He has done a better job of being more vocal and taking control of the offense."

(On needing quarterback leadership)
"It gives us confidence because we have confidence in him now. You see him getting confidence in himself out there playing. He is starting to play with a little bit of swag, and he is feeling himself."

(On difference between freshman quarterbacks)
"Riley has a great arm, and he takes control. I told him that reminded me of Tyler Bray as a freshman. Joshua Dobbs as well, he is a smart kid, and he knows the offense, and he has a great arm. Every time he is in the game, Coach Jones says its live. He will scramble n the pocket, and he is pretty fast."

(On what you are looking forward to most)
"I am definitely looking forward to winning as well. Also a line, just dominating and taking control of the line of scrimmage. We have five guys that are ready to go do that game in and game out."

(On what you now about Austin Peay)
"They are excited. They are coming in here and playing in front of 100,000. They have a new coaching staff so I know they are excited. We have to be ready."





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