Sep 2, 2013
By Brian Rice KNOXVILLE, Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- Attention to detail has been one of the hallmarks of Butch Jones and his tenure at the University of Tennessee. The depth of that attention to detail has been seen in practices, through corrections to hands, feel, spacing, every physical attribute imaginable. But in the wake of Jones' first victory as Volunteer head coach, the evaluation of his team's performance in a 45-0 win revealed an even deeper level to that detail.
"We wanted a very clean game, and I thought for the most part, we had a clean game," Jones said of the penalty-free effort that resulted in the program's first shutout since 2010. "But no one in our football program should be satisfied with their performance. We have a long way to go, we have a lot of work to do. Now we've put our football identity on video. Now every team is studying us."
The one area of study and work Jones most reflects back on his own team wasn't in the physical positioning or the effort - It was all in the eyes.
"The thing that I wasn't particularly fond of or that we need to make great strides is our eye discipline," Jones said. "We had too many of what we call `eye violations,' peeking in the backfield, reading the eyes of the quarterback."
Big plays were held to a minimum on Saturday, as UT held APSU to just five plays of 10 yards or more. Jones said the longest play of the day, a 35-yard completion in the second quarter was a direct result of a breakdown in eye discipline.
"The wheel route they hit up the sideline, our corner was peeking in the backfield and got run by, so that was a mental error," he said, breaking down the play.
"Eye discipline is really important for the safeties," Byron Moore said of his position. "We're another quarterback of the defense. We've got to be able to read our keys and keep our eyes on where they're supposed to be and not take any bait and fall for any fakes."
Brent Brewer, making the transition for safety to linebacker agreed that the eye discipline was an important part of his transition, and picking up on the concept helped him grown into his position.
"I feel a lot better now than I did before," Brewer said. "See a little, see a lot. If you focus on your assignment, you'll see more, you'll see the things that the team is trying to do and you can react and make the play."
As the Vols prepare to face a Western Kentucky team that Jones said had "SEC talent" at Neyalnd stadium this Saturday, they now have a goal to train their eyes on - Literally and figuratively.
"Everything in the back end of your defense is about eye discipline," Jones said. "Especially in our younger players, you could see the lack of disciple at times in their eyes. We'll be emphasizing that all that much more this week."