Dec. 20, 2012
Tennessee's defensive coaches and Director of Strength and Conditioning Dave Lawson met with the media on Wednesday. Check out the best of what they had to say or watch their entire media session.
Defensive Coordinator John Jancek
(On his transition to Tennessee)
"It was pretty clean for me. When coach Jones called me and said he was going to bring me on as a coordinator, there was no real decision on whether I should coach the bowl, recruiting in these conferences are a major priority, it is our lifeline to our success and there was no way we could miss a week of recruiting for me to be the defensive coordinator in the bowl. I said that I had to go, get on board at Tennessee and start recruiting for the Vols."
(On his role in the coaching staff)
"I am going to be a walk-around coach. Tommy Thigpen is going to coach the linebackers and I am going to walk-around coordinator and pick and choose different positions to work with. A lot of times during the special teams periods I will grab a couple guys and drill them and do those things."
(On the defensive scheme)
"We are going to base out of the four-man front and get back to that. Obviously that affects our recruiting so we have to make sure that we are identifying those guys right now so we can target them for the home stretch in recruiting."
(On the current athletes)
"I can't really say to be honest with you. I haven't watched a lot of film, just a couple games. We have some work to do. It is going to be a great challenge. Certainly an opportunity for myself and the defensive coaching staff. It is exciting. We are at a great place. We have great people around us and all the support that we need so we are going to roll up our sleeves and get to work."
(On gathering a defensive staff with SEC experience)
"That was by design. We have guys that know the league and understand the intensity and level of recruiting and have played in these venues before. They know what to expect when you walk into a place like Tennessee. We identify this as a great home field advantage and when we go on the road our opponents will have an electric atmosphere so that was part of it. It was by design."
(On his defensive style)
"If I could have my perfect style. I would want to describe it as a defense that plays with great effort. That plays with great intensity, that doesn't beat itself. Players are in position to make plays and be an exciting group to watch. Part of that style is tackling. To be great tacklers and be physical and when people play Tennessee, they know that they are in for a long game. That is my ideal style. Are we at that point right now, I can't answer that, I haven't worked with the guys yet. That is the model and the philosophy that we will constantly be working towards."
(On the coaching staff already being familiar with one another)
"Continuity is huge in a coaching staff. You don't want to bring new guys in every year. You want to have continuity, and you want to be familiar with each other and know the day-to-day operations. There is a level of comfort. I think that comfort level around the coaches transcends to the players. So when you have a consistent coaching staff, it can only be a positive thing for the football program."
Secondary Coach Willie Martinez
(On his knowledge of Tennessee Football)
"A lot because I am from the south. I know people don't want to say Florida is the south but growing up in south Florida, when I was a kid there wasn't really Miami, Florida, or Florida State, the powers of college football at that time. But it was the Southeastern Conference. I am very familiar with it because I grew up in the south. I am very familiar with the Southeastern Conference. I know the tradition. It goes back to Coach Majors and what he did when he was here. That is the first recollection I got. First hand notice of that was when we played them in the sugar bowl when I was at Miami. It wasn't good for us. I just got a good feel for the fans, how passionate they were. It goes back."
(On recruits' reaction to Coach Jones)
"Instant respect for the accomplishments of what he has done in his last two stops as far as being a head football coach. Being in the MAAC early in my career, it is a really good conference, there is a lot of good coaching that is involved in that conference. To be able to win to MAAC championships. That is what the talk about, you can see the success. How was it when you got there? How was it when you left? That is how you measure a lot of things. He has done a great job and is well respected."
(On why he came here)
"Coach Jones and Tennessee, enough said. Tennessee is a great university, great tradition. I think the world of coach. Those two things, that is real easy."
(On the players struggle with having multiple coaches in multiple years)
"It is not easy. I went through that in my career, it is one of the toughest things. I can relate to that because it happened to me when I was a player, junior to senior year. The way I faced it is, `Look, these guys coming in are good coaches. We have to step it up as players.' We have to try and instill that in them. Try to get a team that is a player driven team and not a coach driven team. We are always going to be coaching, that is what we love to do. But teaching them that and trying to get the right chemistry will be very important."
Linebackers Coach Tommy Thigpen
(On the difference of coaching in the SEC)
"Coaching is coaching. It is the same thing with all of them, you have to get players. They understand that, Butch understands that.
(On Jay Graham)
"Jay has been valuable, especially with a lot of the relationships with some of the kids we already have here. He had a lot of contact with the guys so it was easy for him to pass the phone around. Then when you say the name Jay Graham, he played here, a lot of guys know him, know of him. It was a really good transition for him to be part of our staff."
(On playing in the SEC)
"Every single week, it is the game of the week. Even now with Vanderbilt up, you are playing the Vanderbilt's, you are playing the South Carolina's, you are playing the Florida's, you are playing the Georgia's, there is no down game. So every week you have to put your `A' game on. You got out to practice with your construction hat on and be ready to go. There are no let downs in this conference, any week, anyone can beat you. That is what Butch understands. Everywhere he has gone he has kept the intensity high and understands you have to play like it is the national championship."
(On goals for this program)
"I don't think there is such a thing as a quick fix in this conference. Our goal is to get better and to see the improvement every single week. We aren't looking to jump from whatever we were ranked last year to number one or number two but what we need to make sure that happens is that there is a steady improvement every single week and every day they come to work."
Director of Strength and Conditioning Dave Lawson
(On head coach Butch Jones)
"He's consistent. I think he has a certain level of expectations that he wants from us as coaches, which trickles down to the athletes. So there is consistency within the whole program."
(On if being in the SEC changes things)
"Speed is very important - regardless of where you're playing. Speed is vital in this game - you've got to be able to run. The agility, the quickness, the changing direction and then strength is the basis of it. We've got to be working on strength.
"They've got to be strong and that's another thing that builds the mental toughness. The stronger you are the more physical you're going to be. It's the most competitive conference in the United States. The intensity of the series has got to be at a very high level all of the time."
(On the willingness of the players to get in the weight room)
"We've had guys coming in. It's been very good. I haven't met a lot of the guys - more local - because obviously school is out. But guys have been coming in; they're very interested and want to get busy. I'm the same way... I want to get this stuff done and get to my job."
(On the new facility)
"It's very nice. Whoever designed it and put it in did a great job with it."
Note, assistant head coach/defensive line coach Steve Stripling is serving as the interim head coach at Cincinnati and is not in Knoxville yet.