- Defensive backs Anthony Anderson and Naz Oliver practiced with a new
unit Friday morning at Haslam Field, as both have switched to the wide
receiver position. As Tennessee bounced back with a strong workout,
Anderson and Oliver were catching passes from UT’s quarterbacks, rather
than trying to prevent them from being caught.
Anthony Anderson and Naz Oliver to wideout for several reasons,” head
coach Derek Dooley said. “Reason number one is we’re absolutely
depleted at wideout right now. We’re not deep as it is and we have
injuries. We have injuries with Zach (Rogers) and Deanthony (Arnett).
Little stuff. Not major. We don’t have a lot of guys. We have a lot of
guys in the secondary. Naturally, when you’re short in an area you say,
‘Who on that board has the skill sets to help us that we can afford to
With a wide receiver core that features primarily
sophomores, Anderson’s senior leadership was a major factor in his
“Anthony, in particular, has a lot of good
athleticism, he played (wide receiver) in high school, but he also
brings a nice senior presence into that room,” Dooley said. We have a
young room in there. Our oldest guy is Zach and he doesn’t talk. The
next oldest guys are true sophomores. I think Anthony will help us
athletically, give us more bodies, a little presence of leadership in
there and hopefully it will be a good move for everybody.”
The move will be aided by Anderson’s team-first mentality, something Dooley entertainingly classified as rare.
character, team football player and loves Tennessee,” Dooley said when
describing Anderson. “It’s easier said than done because we’re all
selfish by nature. We’re born selfish. When a baby is hungry, he cries
because all he’s thinking about is ‘I need some milk.’ When you take a
toy away from a baby, he cries and gets mad because he’s not thinking
about sharing. He’s thinking about ‘I want my toy.’ You have to beat
out that self-absorbed trait that we’re all born with and Anthony has
none of that.”
Anderson displayed his lack of selfishness when speaking to the media about switching jersey colors.
excited,” Anderson said. “It’s something new since high school, but I
felt really comfortable for the first day. (Coach Dooley) pulled me off
and gave me a few suggestions. I told him whatever is best for the
team. If I can help on offense, then I will. (The biggest adjustment)
is just knowing that I’m not looking at the orange side as a defensive
back. I’m looking at the white side and the orange side.”
In sync with Dooley, the Knoxville native knows his role.
guys look up to me just as a good guy on the team, somebody that works
hard and also as a senior and a leader,” Anderson said. “That’s a big
part of me moving over there just to let them know it is not about
individuals, it’s a team effort.”
With injuries limiting
freshmen Tom Smith and Devrin Young, Anderson is also in the mix at
punt returner, along with Justin Hunter, Janzen Jackson and Marlin Lane.
POLISHING UP The
Vols used Thursday’s practice to put the finishing touches on their
product for Saturday’s scrimmage at Neyland Stadium, much like they
would during a normal game week.
“It was a real good
attitude,” Dooley said. “I was pleased with it. It was good polish. It
was good tempo, and that’s not always an easy thing. We have our final
scrimmage tomorrow, hardcore scrimmage I mean. Hopefully, we’ll come
out here and show a little improvement.”
Tennessee will focus on multiple situations, including ‘end-of-the-game work,’ an area the Vols need more experience in.
saw it last week,” Dooley said. “Every time we do it, we’re a long way
away from being a real smart football team. It’s easy to sit there and
tell them, ‘This is how you handle it when the clock is running,
there’s 42 seconds and we don’t get the first down. Here’s what you
do.’ Until you get out there, every situation is unique. Knowing when
to hurry, knowing when to stay inbounds, when to get out of bounds and
what happens next after a penalty takes a lot. It takes a lot of
practice and a lot of teaching.”
SAPP IS BACK After
missing part of preseason camp with a fractured left finger, sophomore
linebacker Dontavis Sapp has returned to action with the Vols. You will
notice the club-like wrap on the hand to allow for healing, but that
hasn’t slowed him down.
“He’s back and we need him back,”
Dooley said. “He’s an important guy. He can’t extend his hands and take
on a block. He can tackle a little bit because you wrap. But (he’s
limited) when you have to use your hands and block on punt, take on a
block and shed blockers.” Sapp is getting used to playing with one hand for the time-being.
is kind of tough, but I am getting used to it now,” said Sapp,
who is being converted from the secondary to linebacker this year. “I’m
going out there, trying to make as many plays as I can. When I’m
tackling, it’s hard with one hand, but I’m coming with my other hand
just as strong.”
Sapp had the surgery to repair the finger on Aug. 9.
was real frustrating at first,” Sapp said in reference to when he
suffered the injury. “But, things like this happen in football. I just
told myself I wasn’t going to get down. I got all my mental rest. I
stayed into the playbook and film, and was attentive in meetings.”
QUOTABLE Head coach Derek Dooley (On the qualities he looks for in a good cornerback) “Production
so when they throw his way, they don’t complete the ball. It doesn’t
get any simpler than that. You certainly have to have a level of size
and speed to hold up. You have to have some instincts and then you have
to have some playmaking ability. If the ball is in the air and you’re
there, you have to make the play. There are a lot of good corners out
there who everything looks good but the guy makes the catch. At the end
of the day, you have to make the play. You’re going to get beat some.
They’re going to catch some balls. But you have to have some playmaking
Junior defensive back Marsalis Teague (On fine tuning) “We
are working on the little things. Working on little assignments as far
as technique. Tightening on certain areas to make sure we finish making
(On morning practice) “It’s pretty good. You
practice in the morning and you have class later on throughout the day.
You’re not going through class worrying about practice. It’s pretty
good so far.”
Senior wide receiver Anthony Anderson (On Naz Oliver joining him for the switch to WR) “It’s not just me going over there, so I know somebody from the other side is coming with me. That’s a big help.
(On how his experience as a DB will help him at WR) “I
can read the defenses better. I know from being on that side of the
ball what types of defenses to look for, where I can go, where I can’t
go, where the safety will be standing up high. That’s very much going
to help me.”
(On his first look at the offensive playbook) “Looking
at the (offensive) playbook, it looked like Japanese. I saw all those
zig-zags and everything, but they made it as simple as possible for the
(On battling to be the punt returner) “I
really want it bad, but whatever the coach’s decision is, I’m for it
100 percent. I’m still going to work hard at every position they have
my name listed at just because you never know when I’ll be back there.
I really want the position, but it is whatever coach wants.”
(On helping with Justin Coleman’s development) “I
tell him every day not to take this opportunity for granted. It can
easily be taken away with an injury or if they see somebody else moving
up the depth chart. He just has to be more consistent and stay physical
like he has been doing all camp.”
(On his confidence in his hands) “God gave them to me, so I’ve got to work with them.”