Fundamentals first for new-look Vols
Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 7:00 pm
KNOXVILLE — During his inaugural press conference as UT’s head football coach, Butch Jones said, “We’ll be working to be champions each and every day. We will be a champion in everything we do.”
Every day. Every snap. Every rep. Every play.
Demanding perfection. Demanding excellence.
Jones has demonstrated this mentality on the practice field, in part, with the installation of his new offensive and defensive schemes.
The team learns the fundamental plays early, then it builds from there. But the key here: the players must effectively master the plays they have before they can move on.
This strategy is likely most important for the long-term development of the most critical position on the team: the quarterbacks. They don’t have much experience, so let’s start deliberately.
“It is a little slow right now but it is good that it is slow,” redshirt-freshman Nathan Peterman said. “We really need to master things and that is what we are focusing on — mastering these basic concepts. These coaches are very into coaching the details and very little things. It makes you the best player you can be.”
“They haven’t installed too much because they want us to get perfect,” Peterman added. “We have to keep watching film, get better and work hard.”
Fellow quarterback junior Justin Worley, the lone QB with any real snaps under his belt, explained that it’s been a more progressive installation rather than the all-at-once strategy employed by the previous coaching staff.
“We have been installing different protections and pass plays just about every day,” Worley said. “So I’m not totally surprised by that and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m glad they aren’t throwing the whole offense on us in four days where we are out there trying to tread water.”
Jones’ insistence on making the uncomfortable comfortable, or “changing venues,” has been a theme in practices so far and helps the players sharp. Jones said he was pleased with the offense’s retention, despite the influx of new material and the unfamiliar setting.
“Obviously we threw a lot at them today with installation,” Jones said. “Doing some different trades and shifts and motions, different personnel groupings with our defense and things like that. Some different things in practice and structure. It is only the second time that we have been out there on our grass practice field so the environment changed. I like changing venues. I like changing environments. It goes hand and hand with being a good road football team.”
LINE’S VOICE: There is a new presence on the defensive line. Sometimes he can be heard yelling about technique. Other times his presence is felt as he silently takes in practice.
He is associate head coach and defensive line coach Steve Stripling and though he has only been at Tennessee for just three months, he has already made a big impact on his athletes.
“Coach Strip, I love him,” said senior Marlon Walls. “He’s the type that is going to get in your face and he’s going to call you out. He isn’t going to sugarcoat nothing. If you weren’t playing to the standard that it takes to play a Tennessee defense, myself included, he’s going to call you out on it.”
This in-your-face coaching style is just what the defensive line wants and needs.
But coach Stripling isn’t just about on-the-field coaching, he has also taken the time off the field to build relationships with each and every one of the line.
“We have a good relationship,” said senior Daniel McCullers.
Published in The WCP 4.4.13