NOXVILLE - Tennessee wrapped up early during its “final” practice of fall camp Tuesday morning at Haslam Field.
had a really good, spirited practice and finished early,” head coach
Derek Dooley said. “(We had) good tempo and a lot of plays being made
on both sides of the ball so that was always encouraging. We end it
with a mock game tomorrow which is really more game administration than
it is practice. I’m real pleased with how we’re finishing up and I know
everybody is going to be excited to get to game week.”
The Vols will get together again tomorrow evening for a mock game, which will focus on all aspects of a typical game day.
really more about substitution issues, getting in and out of the
huddle, game administration and all those things that just drive you
nuts and that really look bad from a fans’ perspective, which we have
to get all of those things right,” Dooley said. “The pregame has to
look good. How we do alerts on special teams, subbing in rabid
personnel, this personnel. A lot of substitutions. We have not been on
the same sideline ever since camp started. That’s what people don’t
realize. When we scrimmage, offense gets on one side, defense on the
other. It will be the first time we’re all on the same sideline. It’s
like a game. We just need to get that work in.”
the mock game, the Vols will break camp for a few days before
regrouping for their first game week of the year, leading up to the
Sept. 3 season opener vs. Montana at Neyland Stadium.
the freshmen are more fried than anybody,” Dooley said. “(For) the
upperclassmen, it’s really not that hard. You really see it in the
younger guys, but you also see them come out of it. I’ve seen a lot of
the freshmen have some good days here. Everybody needs the recovery.
I’m real big on two days off. It’s about 10 times what you get in one
day off. You get one day off, it feels good. But when you get two days
off back-to-back, it’s a real big recovery mentally and physically.
We’ll be ready to go.”
Overall, Dooley has been satisfied with the team’s progress through August.
don’t like to give grades. I’ve been very pleased with the body of work
of the team this camp. We asked them to come here with the right
mindset every day and get better every day. I feel like for the most
part we have. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to an opponent and
see what all of this hard work has done and where we are.”
OFFENSE ON PACE
just 11 days until kickoff, Tennessee’s offense isn’t necessarily ahead
of where it’s supposed to be. But it certainly isn’t behind. According
to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, it’s right where it should be.
not comfortable yet, but I won’t be,” Chaney said. “If you asked me the
day before the game, I won’t be comfortable. I feel like we’re probably
on pace. I always like to stay in front of the pace. We’re doing what
we need to do.”
lot of staying on pace has to do with everyone understanding and
fulfilling their individual roles, starting with sophomore quarterback
talking about maturity of a unit,” Chaney said. “It’s just the reality
of it. The quarterback needs to play well and then everybody else plays
a little bit better. We need people to step up and play better. It’s
performance-based and I keep telling them that. Do your job. Just do
your job to the best of your ability and everybody benefits from that.”
While a lot goes into doing that ‘job’ successfully, it all starts with one word on the field: performance.
worried about performance,” Chaney said. “I think if young men think
about performing well and doing their job to the best of their ability,
all that other stuff takes care of itself. So much of it is in that
innate ability of leadership. They just have it or they don’t have it
in my opinion a lot of times. I just worry about them playing well. If
they play well, a lot of good things happen. Concentrate on
performance, changing the things and controlling the things they have
MORE OPTIONS DEFENSIVELY
his second season as the Vols’ defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox
feels the defense has made great progress and UT has more depth for
2011. That has allowed the team to implement more of Wilcox’s defense.
definitely have more (plays) in,” said Wilcox. “You don’t want to make
it confusing, but gives you a little more versatility to match up
coverage-wise in certain situations. Overall, I think we have improved.
I don’t think we are where we need to be by any means. But I definitely
think we have improved as a club from the front to the linebackers to
the secondary. So that’s what is encouraging. You just have to continue
that curve. No one is going to line up and say, ‘That guy is a
freshman, let’s take it easy on him.’ It doesn’t matter what grade you
are when you go and play on Saturday.”
The secondary is the area with perhaps the most depth, but Wilcox is still undetermined on some of the starters.
name a starter at our second corner spot or the nickel is still up in
the air,” he said. “But at the same time, all those guys,
(Justin) Coleman, (Marsalis) Teague, Art Evans, those guys have all
improved. It’s a good thing. We will feel good about the guys that are
out there. We just haven’t been settled on it. There’s more
competition, each rep counts more in practice and you like it to be
of the big positives of preseason camp has been the play of freshman
linebackers A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt. Wilcox see both of them
being heavily involved right from the start of the season.
will play early,” said Wilcox. “They have both earned it through their
play and how they have prepared. Curt’s a guy that we are going to use
a couple of different ways and A.J. Is playing base downs right now.
Those guys will have a large role.”
Wilcox hasn’t been able to put his entire strategy in play, but is working with the skill sets of the Vols that are here.
got a certain personality on what they want to do, but at the same
time, we are going to try and take a square peg and jam it into a round
hole,” he relayed. “We want to figure out what our strengths are
and cater to what our players do best. That’s any coach’s job.”
Head coach Derek Dooley
(On the difference between game day and practice)
need to see them under the lights. It’s game day. It’s just different.
A lot of these guys, we have an idea of how they’re going to play, but
you never know until you get out there. Some guys elevate their game
and some guys, they don’t. We’re about at that point.”
(On the state of the special teams)
better but it’s not where it needs to be. We’re obviously real thin at
linebacker and that hurts us on special teams. We’re thin at safety and
that hurts us on special teams. We don’t have a deep running back corps
and that hurts us on special teams. We’re deeper than we were a year
ago, but we’re not a deep, talented football team.”
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney
(On whether the team will be better in short-yardage rushing situations)
have to believe we have to be. We should be. They’re (the offensive
line) a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger and a little more
mature. If you add everything up, it walks like a duck. I hope we will.”
(On who has impressed him)
“Marlin Lane in blitz protection and things like that. I think Marlin has a calm about him that most freshmen don’t have.”
(On the team growing up)
have conversations daily with these guys. There’s no secret wand we
wave in front of Tyler. It’s all young kids growing up. Sometimes it
sticks, sometimes it doesn’t. I hope if we continue to visit with him,
he’ll continue to wise up to that. I’m hoping so. It’s a maturity thing
with most young football players. They figure out, ‘When I concentrate
more, I play better.’ That’s what we’re after.”
(On sophomore wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers)
has his moments that he’s very good and sometimes, he’s not around very
often. We’re looking for Da’Rick to become a more consistent performer.
He flashes his physical abilities quite often, but we need him to be
consistently doing that. That’s what we’re looking for from him.”
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray
(On what the offense has most improved on this fall)
the ball. The line made a lot of improvements with their blocks and
schemes. Tauren (Poole) exploded in workouts this summer. He’s
done a lot.”
(On getting closer to kickoff)
“We’re almost there. By game time, we’ll be all oiled up.”
(On offensive chemistry)
is starting to mesh and get that gel. They’re starting to know where
they’re going to be at, where I’m going to be at and where I’m going to
throw the ball so it’s starting to click.”
(On helping the newcomer receivers progress)
have to know who is out on the field to which formation of play it is.
The young guys I try to help them out a little bit. I might tell them,
‘Hey, move out a little bit and run it this way,’ or ‘Scoot in and run
it the other way.’ It just depends on who is in there.”