Vol Football Report: Intensity Up, Smith Out

Thursday, August 8, 2013 - by special report to chattanoogan.com

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced Wednesday night that senior defensive end Jacques Smith suffered a fractured right hand in Tuesday practice and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.


On the field on Wednesday -- the Vols' second consecutive night practice on Haslam Field -- Jones was pleased with the team's intensity.


"I wanted to see our overall intensity level," said Jones. "Can we sustain the physicality and the intensity level that we require throughout the course of practice? That lends itself to winning games in the fourth quarter. I think the big thing still that is missing is details, and just overall consistency."


In addition to Smith's injury, Jones announced that freshman defensive lineman Corey Vereen is undergoing a MRI on his knee right. "We'll know more tomorrow," said Jones. "We have some veterans at that position. Corey Miller and Marlon Walls have played a lot of football here. I've talked about depth, and individuals have to step up."


Jones continues to point out several freshmen for their performances through six practices.


"(I am) very encouraged by our two freshman quarterbacks," said Jones. "They continue to progress. We put them in some stressful situations tonight, I really like the way they are developing.


"The two freshman corners, Cam Sutton and Malik Foreman, very encouraged by what I see in them. I think right now they are gaining a lot of confidence as we continue to progress throughout training camp."


Saturday the Vols will go through their first scrimmage of the preseason. That will take place in the evening as Saturday will also be the first day of the team's double sessions this camp.


"Saturday will be our first two-a-day," he said. "The thing that we have to do is to have them understand the preparation, in the training room, nutritionally, and then finishing summer school the right way as we head into the following week of training camp."




Being away from the team this past spring was one of the toughest things that Marlin Lane has gone through in his football career.


As Butch Jones was bringing Team 117 together, Marlin Lane was apart from them. And felt like he was missing his family.


"It was very difficult, because the whole team became a family," said Lane. "Being separate from them was like being alone and not with my family. I just learned to appreciate what I got."


During the time apart from the team, however, he kept in touch with his coach every day.


"Coach Jones was with me every day," said Lane. "He talked to me every day. Coach G [Gillespie], he stuck with me every day. And Mr. [David] Blackburn. I talked with them through my ups and downs and they helped lift my head up."


"They just told me `what you give is what you get,'" said Lane "And `hold your head up high no matter what goes on.' Never tell them a fib and speak the truth to them and they will help you out. Buy in what they are saying and we are going to be successful."


Lane has responded well since rejoining the Vols this summer. He has put in his best effort in the weight room, on the field and in the classroom.


"I am just out there showing [Coach Jones] that I care for the game," said Lane. "That is how I feel. In meetings, class, and anything that I do I hold myself to high standards to show them that I am all about ball right now."


"I am just trying to show that I have passion for the game," continued Lane. "63-4. Six seconds, three strains, for our team."


Like the rest of his teammates, the grueling practices and lifts the Vols go through every day have Lane tired and hurting. But he knows that in the long run, it's all worth it.


"I wake up," said Lane. "I don't feel like getting up but I motivate myself because I see everybody else getting up. They are going through the same thing I am going through out here and we are working to get better."


"We pressure each other," said Lane. "We are all working to compete with each other and push each other forward. When one does good, we all do good."


Lane has learned from his hiatus away from Team 117. And is putting it all on the line each and every day.


"I live my life like it is fourth and inches every day," said Lane. "It could be taken from me any second. I just go out there and give it my all."




Coach Jones is known for calling out both players and coaches on the microphone in the middle of practice.


Some of them are described as soft. Others aren't hustling hard enough.


But Woody Quinn doesn't hear his name much.


That's not because he's doing everything correctly. Jones just likes to call him by different names.


"I haven't paid much attention to it, but it definitely wasn't Woody yesterday," said Quinn. "I don't know if my name was on the mic as much today, so that's good, although, I didn't feel like I had a great practice. I have a lot to improve on."


Quinn doesn't mind the ribbing. Like any new player, he knows he has to earn the right.


"Yes, it's Wally or something," said Quinn. "It's something different, so I have to earn my name, earn my stripe, and it's just a motivator for me."




With the first instrasquad scrimmage of training camp approaching on Saturday, Coach Jones will look to hone in on the Vols' specialists, as he continues to apply the pressure and force consistency out of the Orange and White.


"We'll have a big day on Saturday," Jones said. "We'll do a lot of special teams scrimmage situations. The next few days in the development of this football team are going to be critical. We're working towards getting game ready. Saturday is gameday for a lot of individuals. I'm really interested to see our special teams, and that's going to be a big day for us Saturday.


"Every day is important. There are no off days. Your mental effort, your mental intensity, your mental focus, your toughness, you have to live it every single day. To be where we need to be, we have to have a very high level of consistency."


Senior Michael Palardy, who is currently listed as the starting punter, placekicker and kickoff man, knows that Saturday will be a big test, but says he enjoys those pressure moments.


"That's something that [Coach Jones] emphasizes, and that's part of my game," said Palardy. "That is my game. My game is special teams, my game is consistency, my game is going out there and having the pressure put on me. I embrace all of that. I embrace Coach Jones putting the pressure on me and the whole specialists group."


As for the group, that's who Palardy claims he leans on in those nervy moments.


"As a group, we're knit tight," Palardy said. "When we go into those pressure situations, we have each other and we have each other's backs. When that kind of stuff happens, we're there for each other."




If you look at Brian Randolph you wouldn't know that less than a year ago he went down with a season-ending knee injury.


The now-redshirt sophomore, who injured his knee during the Florida game, is back out and feeling good during this fall camp.


"It is feeling good. It does not bother me at all," said Randolph. "When we are outside I do not even think about it, it is like I just bumped my head."


Randolph was slightly worried that he wouldn't be able to play to his potential after the injury.


"That was my worst fear," said Randolph. "I thought I would be timid, I thought I would be scared, I thought that would be the number one thing on my mind. But so far it has not bothered me at all."


The only thing that has bothered Randolph is rewatching the play. But he has put that part of his life behind him and is looking forward to 2013.


"I am good, and I am very thankful and blessed that I am able to go out at 100 percent," said Randolph. "When I get out on the field there is no doubt in my mind about my knee. I'm 100 percent, so I just think about the play."




On Tuesday, defensive line coach Steve Stripling seemed rather pleased with the leadership, responsibility and progress that his players were taking so far and on Wednesday, defensive players La'Troy Lewis and Corey Miller voiced their coaching staff's expectations.


The defense line knows that much is expected of them this season and across the line one can see the seriousness in bettering Team 117.


After sitting out last season with a knee injury, Lewis is back and pressing through the pain for playing time.


"Some days I may be sore but that is the nature of the beast," Lewis said. " I shake it off and I keep it going. That is what they need me to do."


Stripling has urged the redshirt freshman and the defensive line to keep "plugging away" and work on getting better each day.


"Coach Strip, from day one, let us know that we were his point of emphasis and that he was going to do everything to get us better," said Lewis. "Day-by-day, every day, he pushes us forward. And he pushes us to become better and you can see that we are because of it."


Miller has noticed the team's progression from day one to day six.


"I feel like understanding the concepts of the defenses," Miller said. "We meet all the time. So we have a lot of opportunities to learn new things about our defense, and learn things that we haven't known back in the spring. So, now I feel like it's a lot better on our side on understanding."


Not only does Stripling urge his players to get better day-by-day, he has also been adamant about his individual communication, such as Lewis' footwork.


"He always gets on me about my first step," said Lewis. "He always says, `LaTroy you're stepping out, LaTroy it is not long enough.' Every day my first step is getting better. My footwork is improving every day because he preaches it and it is working."


Along with Stripling, the coaching staff has become more technical by pinpointing small details in their players.


"Everything is technique, technique, technique," said Miller. At the end of the day, if you don't have technique you're going to fail."


Both Lewis and Miller realize that the Volunteers coaching staff expect no down time on the practice field.


"We know what the coaches expect now," Lewis said. "From spring to the first few days of camp, we picked up right where we left off and are playing with a lot of intensity and a sense of urgency."




Freshman tight end Greg Tisho has been added to the Vols' training camp roster, wearing No. 89. Tisho stands 6-2 and weighs 232 pounds. A native of Cherokee, N.C., Tisho played at Swain County High School. He finished his senior season with 66 catches for 1,441 yards, a school record. He also set the North Carolina championship game records with 13 catches for 261 yards in the 2012 1AA championship game, the 13 catches is also a Swain school record


Freshman offensive lineman Brett Dockery of Farragut and senior defensive back Naz Oliver have left the program.




The Vols will open the 2013 campaign against Austin Peay on Aug. 31. To purchase season tickets, go to UTTix.com.


For more information about Tennessee football, visit UTSports.com/football, follow @Vol_Football on Twitter or like the Vols at Facebook.com/VolFootball.




Here are sound bites from the coaching staff on players after the sixth day of practice:




»(On the day off tomorrow)


"Well, there are no days off. We just don't practice. First of all, it is academics with Friday being the last day of summer school. We will have a full day of lifting and meetings. Really get caught up on the installation, you can really benefit from having a lot of walk throughs. Meeting time, get caught up on the film and really teach. I look forward to tomorrow because it is an opportunity to really teach and to get stronger and continue to develop our football team in the weight room."


»(On the foundation of the team)


"A mentality. A workmanlike mentality each and every day. A passion, a desire to get better every day. If you do that you will improve. I think what comes with that is accountability. Also I think in that foundational piece is a pride of who we are, who they are representing on a day-to-day basis. It is the mental focus, the intensity that it takes to play at a championship level. You look at every championship team, you look at every great player, they are different, they have an edge about themselves, the way they approach the day, the way they approach practice, they are wired differently. That is what we expect here."


»(On the freshmen handling camp)


"The installation continues to grow and your body is tired, that is where that mental conditioning kicks in. Mental and physical toughness. You have to continue to demand, you have to want to be out there. It has to be important to you and this is where you develop. The way the freshmen quarterbacks have handled it, we have put them in pressure situations tonight, I thought they did a good job for the most part."




»(On night practices)


"Actually, I'm enjoying it you know. I love football, I love being around all my brothers all my teammates you know, its fun coming in here knowing that we're doing something that a lot of other people can't do. I'm enjoying it probably more this year than I have just because I feel like we have something really special going and I'm really excited."


»(On Coach Jones tracking grades)


"I mean he has us on lock-down. I think this past semester we've had the best semester that we've had in a long, long time. I think the first summer semester was the best grades we've had during the summer semester in UT history. So, the team is really buying in and Coach Jones is really enforcing it. I mean, it's just the way he does things. We're different in every way and he's really just pounding that in our brain. I think the guys are really buying into it."


»(On Dan McCullers)


"Big Dan has just really stepped it up as wanting to become better you know. I think the other day Coach Jones said something about him just walking up to him saying, 'Hey I need to get in better shape because I want to be a big part of this team this year', I don't think he would have ever done that last year. I think a big part of that is the offseason, Coach Lawson getting him right in the offseason, pushing him beyond where he thought he could be pushed. I think now he's got it in his mind that he can do more than he ever thought he could do."




»(On running behind the veteran offensive line)


"There is a whole bunch of potential. I am going into my third year and since day one, they have worked and gotten better each and every day. I see that out of them and try and bring the same mentality they do every day."


»(On looking forward)


"Looking forward. Never stare in the past, if you stare in the past you are going to be brought down. I would rather keep going forward. That is going to push me and motivate me for everybody on the coaching staff, in the community and on the team."


»(On the 2013 Vols)


"To me I just look at it as new faces here. If we all buy in, we are going to get it done. It doesn't matter if you are a freshman or a fifth-year senior. We are all going to look alike on the field."




»(On the 1-on-1 battles)


"It's the game of football. It's competitive. We go out there every single day and have to show it's you versus your man. You have to beat your man on the other side of the ball. Whether it's a wide receiver and a defensive back, a kicker against another kicker, or a linebacker against a running back, whatever it is, Coach Jones loves it. He loves doing "Circle of Life" too, where you get two guys in the middle and just go at it. That gets us amped up and ready for practice."



»(On handling adversity)


"We had a meeting today about having adversity happen in any type of situation, third and long, fourth and two at the goal line, making a big stop, having the offense overturn and having to get back on defense. Adversity is going to strike at any given time so we are always going to be prepared for that. They set it up for us every single day, whether it is in meetings or whether it is practice situations."


»(On losing Vereen and Smith)


"We have six seniors, we have a lot more guys that are ready to contribute at any given time. Coach Stripling had us in meetings all day preparing for those types of situations. These guys are ready, we are ready."




»(On team retention of defense)


"This defense works off of itself. So once you learn one thing you can apply it to the next coverage they put in. So the things they taught us week one are able to stick with us more because we are constantly reusing it in the coverages."


»(On the other guys at safety)


"Max Arnold, I have seen his drive. He has a very hard drive. He is always the one busting himself in the sprints, he is always the one throwing up. He goes until he can't go anymore. I feel like he is a good person to have back there. He is someone who will give his all for Tennessee. Also, Lemond Johnson is coming along. He is starting to get his nose into tackles more. He is starting to get more physical. Jalen knows the playbook well. So we are starting to get five or six good safeties."


»(On the safeties communication)


"I just think that we all have a good relationship, so we are accustomed to talking to each other. We can talk to each other off the field, on the field, so that relays into the practice atmosphere and also the game atmosphere. Our communication is good all around; I believe anyone can get it done. They just need to raise their voice and be confident in what they are doing."




»(On Coach Jones' intensity)


"It lets us know where his mind is and puts our mind where his is. It shows us that competition is everything. It is the game of football, that is what it's all about."


»(On who stands out on defense)


"On our defense, Dontavis Sapp has been doing a tremendous job. We pretty much expected it coming from the spring and the things that he did all summer, all of the extra work, it is paying off for him."


»(On the defense)


"We knew from the start that we had to have a lot of intensity and a sense of urgency going into camp. We are just pushing at it every day and grinding."




»(On dropped balls)


"Too many. As far as in skelly and stuff, a couple. You know, one is way too many for me, so I'm trying to improve that. You know, I feel like more than anything for me, is focusing on going fast and not you know, Coach Jones said one day I was kind of walking on egg shells trying to do every little thing right, and I just have to run, get to where I'm supposed to be, turn around and catch the ball."


»(On where he's getting reps)


"I'd say mostly twos and threes and a little bit at the ones. Every rep for me is like I'm going with the ones. It's top town in the nation here, so I'm just trying to battle and extend my roles."

(E-mail Stan Crawley at wscrawley@earthlink.net)

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