Sep 3, 2013
By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- 63.
It's not the number of an opponent, a play call, a ranking or even a nickname. But look around the Anderson Training Center, and it's everywhere.
The meaning behind '63' is fairly simple. Each football play takes an average of six seconds to complete. In that six seconds, Butch Jones wants three great efforts. It's not a new concept around the program, it's something that has been ingrained in the players from day one. But it became an emphasis once again on Tuesday, with 120 '63' decals placed all over the complex.
Assistant to the head coach Chris Spognardi placed all 120 decals around the complex, affixing them to a variety of items and in a variety of locations to reinforce the point behind '63.'
"It's a subliminal message to make sure that the guys know that everywhere they go its '63,'" Spognardi said of the strain. "It doesn't matter if you're in the bathroom, the locker room, at the training table, in the meeting rooms, it's a subliminal message that we've got to be thinking of `63' every single second of every single minute of every single day."
The emphasis carried over to the practice field as Jones took to the microphone for his usual direction of the session. He had the team chant '63' during team stretching and used the term every time he corrected a player by name over the speakers.
"That is our theme of the week," wide receiver Jason Croom said following the two-hour session. "Coach just wants us to have more effort in practice, and it will translate to the game. We did good last Saturday, but there were things we could have improved on."
Jones used the opportunity to remind players that the warm conditions on the practice field mimicked what they would see at Neyland Satdium on Saturday, with a 12:21 start time and a forecast of sunny skies and 90-degree temperatures. He said the conditions were all the more reason to play '63.'
"Every day we try our best to play '63,'" said junior defensive back Justin Coleman. "Some practices, he feels like we just play `41' (four seconds with one effort) but we try to come out and play a complete `63' for Coach."
In addition to being all over the complex this week, the '63' is also on the back of the team's workout shirts that have been worn since the start of training camp so that each player is reminded of it when they see a teammate. Croom said the subliminal messages referenced by Spognardi did indeed have the number and the concept behind it in his mind at all times.
"You are just constantly thinking about it," he said. "You have to push a little bit harder because it is going to help at the end of the day."