Vols kick off first practice of fall camp
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones kicked off fall camp on Monday with a press conference at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.
KNOXVILLE (UTsports.com) ? - Tennessee head coach Butch Jones kicked off fall camp on Monday with a press conference at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.
Tennessee opens up camp with 31 days until the season opener against Appalachian State at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 1 in Neyland Stadium.
Monday marks the first official day of fall football for the Vols, who went 9-4 during the 2015 season, including a dominating 45-6 victory over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
"We're looking forward to starting our journey today" says Jones. "As we all know, it's a long journey. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon and every day is critical. We put a lot of work into this, a lot of work that really started since we walked off the field in Tampa, I believe 213 days ago.
"We've really challenged our football team, first and foremost, in the strength and conditioning area. We need to be a much more explosive football team. I think Mike Szerszen and his staff have done a great job from what we've been able to see in a very short period of time. I think our players have accomplished that goal and we'll be able to see more throughout the course of training camp. I think we've had a very, very productive offseason or work season as we call it. I know our players are eager to get out there.
"Really, we're starting all over today and that's the exciting thing about college football--about a third of your roster changes year in and year out. There's new opportunities in terms of roles on your football team, but also from a leadership standpoint as well. It's all about building your habits, your fundamentals, understanding what it takes to play winning football, for us also situational football and following our formula for winning.
"When you look back at last year, there are a lot of great teaching illustrations and teaching points following the formula for winning. We only turned the football over 12 times. We were fourth in the country, but our goal is to be number one in the country. That is our standard and expectation within our football program. We were top five in just about every special teams category. We were number one overall in special teams when you put all of the units together. There is so much more that we can do, and there is so much more room for improvement. When you look at it, our defense started on its side of the 50-yard line 12 times last season. When you look at the formula for winning games, our players did a great job with that.
"Now, how do we take that to the next level? We have talked about explosive plays and not giving any up. The big thing when you start training camp is that it's a building up process. It's building from helmets to shells to full pads. It's a process, and you can't put any one day more important than the other. It's all about following that process and being a better football team day in and day out.
"In terms of our injuries, everyone will be on the field today. We will have different stages of recovery going on, but everyone will be present and will participate at practice in some level today."