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Butch Jones Week 1 Press Conference

Aug 26, 2013


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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Butch Jones met with the media on Monday to discuss this week's game against Austin Peay, as well as his decision on naming the Vols' starting quarterback.

Head Coach Butch Jones

(Opening Statement)
"Good afternoon, I'm going to fill you in on a few different things in the program then answer any questions you may have. We had our mock game on Friday and I thought our players did a great job of really handling the game management situations that can occur, not just throughout the course of one game, but throughout the course of an entire football season. There are so many thing that go into it, with your hot hot box, with punts, punt returns, and kickoff and kickoff returns so I thought that was a valuable teaching tool. We gave our players Saturday and Sunday off to recover so they should be well rested and they should be anxious to start game week today.

"I think the big thing for us with this football team is paying attention to the small details. The small details that it takes to win football games. Our effort, our energy, our playing together. There was one defining moment, I thought, throughout the course of training camp, where our defense had great energy, and I think that was a byproduct of generating the most turnovers that we had generated in all of training camp and I think when you play with a high level of energy and intensity level, and relentlessness to attack the football then good things happen to you defensively, and I thought that was a great teaching tool for our players. It continues to be a common theme of investing in the right things. Now, the whole rhythm and routine is just beginning with school in session and game-week preparation.

"It's really investing in victory. You win Saturdays by winning Monday through Friday. The way you prepare, the way you focus, the way you practice, those are all things we talk about playing winning football and that's going to stem from our preparation. It's staying ahead of the game academically. All those things go into it. It's our habits. You either perform bad habits, or poor habits or good habits, and everything is habit-forming. It's another evaluation tool, or evolution of Team 117, it's how we handle game days.

"A couple things, the first two games, I always call them the game of the unknowns. You really don't know what to expect. First of all, from your opponent. New coaching staff, new faces, new schemes, and then also from ourselves, focusing on what we do. There are a lot of things, a lot of players will be playing for the first time, we're playing in front of 102,455 and so how are they really going to act. What happens with our leadership? Our play-making abilities? Everything is going to become new, and I'll know a little bit more about where we're at as a football team and as a football program after game one, but you have to be prepared for anything and everything and prepared, because like I said, the first two games are unknowns.

"Corey Vereen, Jacques Smith and Riyahd Jones will be out this game. We fully anticipate having Jacques Smith back for Western Kentucky. We moved Vincent Dallas from corner, back to wide receiver. Our starting quarterback for Austin Peay will be Justin Worley. It was a very, very tight race. I thought all four individuals did a great job. I thought they all really advanced their growth and development throughout the entire course of training camp but we just thought that Justin was just a little bit ahead of the other three individuals. I met with every sing quarterback individually, myself and Mike Bajakian, so we always believe in handling everything in-house, and I told them that everything is judged by your productivity so we will continue to really look at that position, and not just that positions, but every position on our football team."

(On how to maintain competition at quarterback)
"Well, I think that stems from Justin. That's on him. Any great competitor, you never look back behind you. You keep looking forward, you continue to progress and get better and better. Justin is extremely competitive. We don't ever want to create a scenario where they're always looking behind them but that's the world that we live in, that's football, that's competition. We're going to learn how to compete, not just on game day, but everything we do in our football program is based off of competition. We'll compete today, on Monday, and that's what our football program is all about."

(On what separated Justin for him to earn the starting spot)
"It was an overall body of work. It was taking care of the football, and we charted anything and everything. We wanted to make the best educated decision for our football team and our football program, and it was taking care of the football. I think the game experience had a little bit to do with it as well. You couple that with an extremely young offensive football team. Yes, we have some veteran players up front, but everywhere else we're young. I believe we have 54 career receiving yards from our starting wide receivers. I think the overall game experience and him taking care of the football, but I thought Nate Peterman did a tremendous job. Nate was the first one in today, at 7am, watching film. And I thought our true freshmen, both of them did an outstanding job. They're behind, obviously, mentally and physically, and you can see a little bit of a -I don't want to say a dropoff- but you could see a little bit once school started. They're experiencing a full academic work load. They're experiencing college life. They're experiencing the game day rigors of what it is to be a quarterback at this level and any level in college, so I think all of that came into play."

(On if he was surprised the freshmen were able to work themselves into the competition)
"No. That's the reason we recruited them. If you're a quarterback, where else would you want to play quarterback than the University of Tennessee. It starts with Peyton Manning when you look at our tradition, so we expect to have the best of the best, and the way they performed is what we expect and now they have a lot of room for growth in all aspects but I like the progress that they've made so far."

(On if he expects to play multiple quarterbacks on Saturday)
"We'll see how the game goes. Right now Justin Worley is our starter, and he's our starter. You get back to the question that was asked about looking over your shoulder. I don't want our quarterbacks, if they make a mistake, looking over and wondering when they're going to get the hook. That's now how I believe in developing quarterbacks, but they do have to produce. We have to be patient, as well."

(On if he'd like to redshirt at least one of the freshman quarterbacks)
"We have to play the best individual to lead us to victory. You know, perfect world, absolutely we'd like to redshirt one of those individuals, but it's a long season and it gets back to the thing you guys probably get sick and tired of hearing me say, and it's focusing on the process, winning the day. We have to win Monday in order to get to Tuesday and that's kind of the program motto right now."

(On Justin Worley's leadership)
"He is progressing. He is a work in progress. He still has some improvement to go just like the rest of our football team is really learning leadership. Like a said to Justin yesterday, it is one thing to lead the team when things are going great. The mark of a great quarterback is leading your team to victory in the one-minute drill on the road and having that poise and that confidence that is takes to manage an entire offense. There is room for growth and development there just like every football player in our program right now. They have to learn how to lead when things go wrong, when we suffer adversity. I have said it, this football team is going to be defined by how we handle adversity and how we persevere. That is one of the things that we tried to accomplish during camp but you really never know until you get into the pressure of a real game and game situations."

(On the importance of the leadership characteristics in a quarterback)
"Yes. He is the alpha male, he is the leader. When things start to go wrong or when things don't go according the plan, which things rarely do go according to plan, all eyes look on the quarterback. The way they manage the huddle before we take the field, the way they control the line of scrimmage, that is what quarterbacks do, that is the job description of being a quarterback."

(On Austin Peay)
"You try to do your research and watch as much film as possible. Spivey, the quarterback, he is a winner, they won a national championship, he threw for over 3000 yards, they are going to test our secondary, we fully anticipate that. Timmy Phillips, he is one of their running backs, I recruited Tim when I was at Central Michigan, very fittingly he was also named one of their team captains. Tim is very dynamic, he is elusive, he played for us as a true freshman on a football team that finished top-25 in the country and won a bowl game and upsetted a top-ranked opponent in Michigan State. So Tim is going to bring a lot of elusiveness. We have tried to do our research. But when you go into a first game the thing that really makes you uneasy is first of all turning the football over. The physicality of the game, so much throughout the course of training camp, you pick your spots, when you tackle live you are tackling by your defense, it is turnovers and it is special teams. So many different things. There will be a number of games this first week of the season that will come down to special teams and turnovers. So you really try to educate your players, trick plays and eye discipline, all the things that we have harped throughout the course of training camp really come into full play that first game."

(On Marlin Lane)
"He did. Marlin really progressed throughout the course of training camp. He was slowed for about three days with a slight ankle injury but he is fine now. Rajion was just a model of consistency. I thought he really improved in his pass protection skills which he needed a lot of work on that area and I think he really did a great job of embracing that role. Just again, understanding the run reads. Does he still have a lot of work to do? Absolutely. But I just think it was a day to day level of consistency."

(On the amount of running backs he will play)
"When you want to play with a level of physicality you also need running backs and right now Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane will get the bulk of the carries. Tom Smith has come on a little bit, Alden Hill needs to be a special teams performer for us, get the tough yards for us. Those two will see the bulk of the carries. Tight end wise, that is another position that is a work in progress right now. Brendan Downs will get the bulk of the work there but we want to be able to get into some two tight end sets and some three tight end sets. So the development of the younger players at that position are going to be critical as well."

(On the improvement of the offense)
"I would like to think fundamentally and technique wise. We haven't been able to instal all the offense that we wanted to just because of the youth at the wide receiver position but also the inexperience at quarterback. We want to own something. You can put all these plays in but if you don't execute it, it doesn't matter and we don't run a designer offense. We are going to be an execution based offense, it is mastering the fundamentals. That is what people don't realize, you put in a slant route in. The slant route, you have to practice it versus free access, cover three off man, press man, inside technique press man, outside technique press man, cover two. So one route and you may say well that is a slant route, really there are four or five different and slight technique adjustments that have to be owned. You have to master the technique. That is why we talked to our players all training camp about not only owning your conditioning but owning your technique. Knowing the why, why do we do this, why do we need to do this, why do we need to stem the corner this way. Also understanding the reception areas. And them also understanding where they are at in the progression in the route. What happens with alot of young receivers is they may have a 15-yard dig route but they may run a 10-or-12-yard dig route. And they are saying Coach I was wide open, but you are number two or number three in the progression, that is why your route said 15-yards. It is a whole process of developing young wide receivers."

(On the quarterbacks)
"They are all very similar. Justin is not going to give you the 15, 20, or 25 big splash play run but what he can do is he has really good pocket instincts and he can get you 4 or 5 or 6 yards in some design quarterback runs which we will have. Nate Peterman may be a little bit faster and then the true freshmen have some allusiveness to them and they can probably make more plays with their legs right now. We can't let the mind tie the feet up. Everything is instincts and the pocket collapsing and all that. Justin can get us out of some problems but when we call quarterback runs, it is designed to get four or five runs."

(On playing freshmen)
"It was a combination of both. We talk about how competition is extremely healthy and that is something that we have to continue to recruit here. Some of it was that is just where we are at with the program, it is what it is. Then some guys have done a great job and freshmen develop differently. I think this was a very talented incoming freshman class. We could play as little as 10 freshmen to as many as 15 or 16 true freshmen Saturday night. Do I like doing that? No, I like to have an older presence. When you look at our backend, every back-up in our secondary is either a true freshman or a walk-on. That is just where we are at in the program and that is why we have to continue to recruit and develop our current players."

(On the secondary depth)
"Our secondary is either freshmen or a walk-on. That is just where we are at in the program and why we have to continue to recruit and develop our current players."

(On using that many freshmen before)
"No."

(On walk-ons in the secondary)
"I will tell you what. All three individuals have done a tremendous job and have earned the right to play. That is part of having a very successful program, is you have to have a very strong walk on program. Before we go recruit the next class, if there is an individual who is deserving to be put on scholarship, we will put them on scholarship. They have done a tremendous job. Reggie Juin is a great story. Here he was playing running back and he is now a backup corner in the SEC. He has done a tremendous job. Devaun Swafford is another individual that we have asked a lot of him. From playing corner, to playing nickel. He has great instincts, he is a great tackler and extremely athletic. But all of these individuals have done a great job for us."

(On Curt Maggitt)
"There is a chance that he might play. We are going to take our time with him. We never want to rush anyone back from injury. He is going to practice this week, that will probably be a Friday decision on whether he will play against Austin Peay."

(On being able to move Vincent Dallas back to receiver)
"I think it was a combination of both. The other individual when we talked about the walk-ons is Max Arnold. He has been an individual who has been extremely consistent for us. Not only on the back end of our defense but also on special teams. As a combination of Vincent does bring some experience to the wide receiver corps, and with the progression of the way Malik Foreman, Reggie Juin has progressed that has afforded us the little luxury that we did have to move him back to offense."

(On protecting the young cornerbacks)
"It is a combination. We have to do some different things to protect him. But I said the mark of playing great defense is how our front seven plays. We have to be able to generate a pass rush with a four down rush. Having to play fire zone coverage and playing underneath cover zones in order to have a five and six man pressure on the quarterback. We have to be able to generate pressure with a four man rush. Anytime you are having to put five or six individuals to rush the quarterback you are putting your secondary in a bind. You are putting them in some compromising positions. We have to do a great job up front."

(On special teams)
"I will know a little bit more after the game Saturday. We practiced every single special teams unit, we practice in practice every day. We have done an inordinate amount of live repetitions. A lot of people don't like to practice special teams live, we have practiced every unit live, including hands and onside. We have so many young individuals playing those special teams we won't really know until they face game speed action Saturday night. That is one of those things I mentioned earlier is the game of unknowns. Really it occurs in the special teams game in the first game of the season."

(On the kicking game)
"Right now I would say Mike Palardy has a full grasp of both positions. He is earned the right to handle all of the duties."

(On Michael Palardy)
"He has responded. The big thing that we have challenged Mike with is a high level of consistency. Consistency and performance. That is what you want out of your kicking game. When we call for a ball to be placed in a certain area whether kickoff or punt, it has to be placed in that area. That is a byproduct of playing great special teams. A lot of people don't realize it's about your kick location. A lot of times, from a coverage standpoint you are trying to eliminate a third of the field. Your kick placements are at a premium. He is going to have to perform well for us. George Bullock started performing slow a little bit with the sore leg. He will be back in practice today, but again those spots are going to be ongoing in terms of competition again as well along with Brodus. We will continue, like our quarterback and every position, to really compete at the kicking spots.

(On Austin Peay)
"I do know they are going to be well coached. Coach Cannon does a great job and I have a lot of friends in the business that know him. They will be prepared. I have been on the other side. They are coming in here with the mindset that they are coming in to win. You are going to get their best effort. I have prepared a football team on the other side. What we have to do is concern ourselves with our performance and being mentally and physically ready to play. I already talked about Timmy Phillips, about their quarterback. They have a gifted defensive end that is on the Senior Bowl watch list. They play with a lot of energy. We have to be prepared to play. This team is not good enough just to show up. We have to be prepared each and every week. That is why we have to teach our players really what game week means. How do you prepare yourself to play at a very high standard. Not just physically, its mentally. Doing the extra film study, taking care of your bodies. It is supposed to be 92 degrees Saturday. Hydration that begins today. Taking pride in your preparation in everything that you do."

(On game week)
"I was a little bit grumpier. My mind has been racing. I woke up about three times in the middle of the night last night worried about the first day nuances. Having 11 men on the field. Getting your extra point team on. Getting your offense off the field. The transitions, the special teams, game management type situations. That is what I pride myself in the game management things that come throughout the course of a game. You can definitely feel the energy and excitement but I get more nervous in preparation Monday through Friday then I do on game day. To me that is when you prepare to win, that is when you deserve to win. Your preparation throughout the course of the entire week."

(On personally being ready for game week)
"I have had about six different trainers from the places I have been calling me to check on me and all that. It is making sure that every small detail is looked into, is practiced, is rehearsed, is talked about and making sure our team is ready for anything and everything. I think the big thing for us is, I want to see this team play relentless. I want to see this football team play with great energy. I think that is the first step of becoming a better football team, we have to play with great energy. We have to play with a collective energy, a collective toughness, amongst ourselves. Offense, defense, special teams, having a sideline ready to go. Not false or fake energy, but passion for what you are doing. It is like I told our football team. I don't like emotional football teams, I don't like emotional people. If you show me an emotional football team, I will show you a football team that is up and down. They don't have a consistency in their performance. I want a football team that is relentless and passionate about playing football at the University of Tennessee. I am anxious to see that Saturday night."

(On who the third quarterback would be)
"Right now we will make that determination as this week goes on. I will tell you this, it is going to be a true freshman. That is the thing, with true freshmen they are getting better. It is them learning how to manage the distractions and clutter. What is important to them. How do you prepare, how do you go about your daily business, the daily grind of a college football season, the scrutiny that you are under? All of those things. Getting to bed at 11 o'clock. I don't know if I was ever to bed before 11 in college, but you have to have eight hours sleep. The nutrition, getting in and studying film. The best quarterbacks that I have been around they have spiral notebooks filled up for just one week of preparation. Being able to handle it as quickly as it comes. Stimulus. Response. Stimulus. Response. Being able to play the game very fast."

(On where the assistant coaches will be on game day)
"We have worked together so much as a coaching staff, there is an art to it with the coaches up in the box. With different people I talk to and speak to on the phones and that overall communication. What happens and the speed of the game we have, for instance we even practiced 10 men on the field for an extra point/field goal. What do you do, do you take a delay of game or do you take a timeout. Now in the game situations, I always like to have a timeout in my back pocket at the end of the game because of the 10-second run off rule. I don't like to waste my timeouts. Teaching your players how many timeouts you have in a one minute drill and if you take a sack do you take the timeout there. All the little game management things that go into it. And we worked very extensively on that throughout the course of training camp. When the pressure goes up and there are people in the stands, a lot of times individuals act differently. That is why we try to practice the way we have. But I will know more about this football team Saturday night."

(On the team's football IQ)
"I think we have come a long way, but I still think we are a work in progress. We still have a long ways to go. Again it's the why. We do this because of this. This is why we do it. And then they are understanding it and taking the teaching to the field. Most everyone has been to our practices so over the course of training camp you saw the amount of teaching that went into the game management situations. Little things like one -minute offense and all you need is a first down and then you can take a knee and run the clock out. We have a down call. If that running back gets that first down, he takes a knee, he doesn't score. We are in victory formation and in my first year at Central Michigan, we were up and we were on the road and all we needed to do was run the clock out. Our running back kept running and almost fumbled the ball. That is where that was created. We now have a down call. You learn from your past experiences. All those things you practice, at some point in time throughout the course of the year, those will all come into play. "

(On pass rush)
"They have all been out at some point of time, but the standard and expectation never change. It doesn't matter whether it is number one, two or three, the standard and expectation about the way that we are going to play football here will never change. So it is what it is. We have to continue to develop our pass rush, there are so many things about hands, hand-to-hand combat. Using your feet. Working the edges of the defender. Keeping your points on the quarterback with your rush lanes. We will continue to develop that. Does it hurt us with a few of those individuals out, yes. But the way I look at it, it is an opportunity for everyone else. It is a great opportunity for Corey Miller. A senior. Now is your time. Take advantage of it in terms of opportunities for everyone. Jordan Williams is another individual. He has worked extremely hard in the offseason in training camp. Now is your time, go assert yourself. Go take advantage of all of your hard work. I look at it like that."

(On the Tennessee Traditions)
"It is the pride of who we are. That is Tennessee. Running Through the T is Tennessee. The Vol Walk is Tennessee. We can't lose sight of the task at hand and that is Austin Peay. Those traditions are who we are. At the end of the day it is about performing and winning football games. And playing football and understanding what it takes to play winning football. That is why this week of preparation is critical. These players will understand. They will get presented today the Big Three to winning. They will understand the Big Three. We will talk about it all week long. Again, the greatest teams I have been around, their week of preparation is unmatched. Position groups getting together, watching film study together, talking about the game, living the game. You got to live it. Every day. That is a big part of the evolution of our football team. In teaching the older players, this is our standard and expectation in taking pride in our performance off the field in terms of your preparation."

 

 

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