Vols rusty, but focused in return from spring break - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Vols rusty, but focused in return from spring break

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT) -- Tennessee football was back on Haslam Field Tuesday as Butch Jones continues to build a new UT team, 'brick by brick.'

Tennessee returned to action after a week off for spring break, and Jones was happy with what he saw from the Orange & White.

"We wanted to see how our players would respond," said Jones. "We had a focused group of young men yesterday in our meetings. And today I liked our mental focus and I liked our mental effort. It is like building a building, you build it brick by brick.

"That is what we are building right now as this football program, this football team. We still have a long way to go. I also saw some individuals who really went on spring break and came back and they were in great shape. Overall, still a lot of work to do."

Jones continues to emphasis the physical nature of the game and is putting a significant focus on it each day.

"I think our overall physicality as a football team has to improve greatly," he said. "That is going to be the emphasis each and every day. We are going to get even more focused because obviously playing in this football conference we have to be a much more physical football team then what we showed today. It is all how you practice.

"The way you practice really tells you the culture of your football program. The thing I like about our players is they are here and they are willing but we still have a long way to go. But like I said earlier it is brick by brick."

Of his course of time as a coach, Jones has placed a major importance on the impact of leadership within his teams both on and off the field. It is no different at Tennessee and Jones continues to look for the men to lead Team 117.

"It is critical. Leadership is everything," said Jones. "We (coaches) aren't on the field with them, we aren't in there when they start their summer strength and conditioning program. We always talk about it, it is better to be a player-led team than a coach-led team, or a player-coached team then a coach-coached team."

Jones has pointed to several upperclassmen including Ja'Wuan James, A.J. Johnson and Jacques Smith, who have emerged as leaders. He also pointed to unheralded Raiques Crump as a player who is rising to the occasion.

"Ja'Wuan has done a great job, but we need more," said Jones. "I thought A.J. Johnson stepped up a little bit. For the first time I saw some energy, I saw a passion to get to the football, tackles for loss. Jacques Smith has been an individual who is bringing it in terms of his demeanor every day.

"Crump has been doing a great job. There is a number of individuals, Byron Moore, again we need more, we need more of a collective group effort."

Information provided by UT Sports Media Relations and UTSports.com.

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