Tennessee Football reports to training camp - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Football reports to training camp

Posted: Updated:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UTSports.com)– Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones held his first press conference of the fall on Friday in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio.

After leading the program to its third consecutive bowl victory and second straight nine-win season in 2016, Jones talked about the excitement among the players and coaches to get this year’s fall camp underway.

“Wow, football time in Tennessee, it’s hard to believe. As you can imagine, everybody’s excited to get going and there is a little bit of bounce in everyone’s step,” Jones said to open his afternoon press conference.

UT players officially report for camp this afternoon and will have their first practice of the fall on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Vols will begin preparations for their Sept. 4 season opener against Georgia Tech at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which kicks off a stretch of three games over 13 days for the Big Orange.

Jones also touched on injuries, citing four players who will be out/limited to begin fall camp: junior offensive lineman Chance Hall, sophomore linebacker Daniel Bituli, junior linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and junior defensive tackle Shy Tuttle.

The fifth-year head coach of the Vols also gave a recap on the impressive gains made in the weight room this summer during offseason conditioning under first-year director of strength and conditioning Rock Gullickson. Jones said 21 players can power clean 300+ pounds and 10 players can squat 500+ pounds, while 64 different players' names will be added to the team record board, including 15 true freshmen.

“(We have made) significant progress during the summer months from a strength standpoint, a power standpoint and a muscular size standpoint but also from a confidence standpoint as well,” Jones said. “We gave our players two days off the last two days and they’re still in the weight room. That comes from confidence that they have. They can feel their bodies changing, your body is your asset. They really feel good about where they’re at.

“Our true freshmen have come in and elevated the level of competition. But I’ve really been excited to see the level of leadership that’s formed from our older players that are developing our freshmen into our culture and into our style and expectations.”

More Quotes from Jones’ Season-Opening Press Conference

(Opening Statement)?
“Wow, football time in Tennessee, it’s hard to believe. As you can imagine, everybody’s excited to get going and there is a little bit of bounce in everyone’s step. Energy, players coming in, they actually report around 2:30 p.m. today. Just again, I’m excited to get going and much discussion and dialogue about the new format for college and training camp with no two-a-days and one day off per week. That really doesn’t affect us too much. We want to take full advantage of the waiver to start early. However, it is a buildup process going from practice one throughout the course of training camp. Coupled with our mandatory one day off a week, we’ll still also incorporate what we’ve done for a number of years now. There will be a day during the week also that we won’t practice and it’ll be more of a mental day -- a day in the weight room so we can continue to make the gains in the weight room that we need to make. We’re making sure that we are taking full advantage of our practice opportunities, but for the most time we will practice five out of seven days and we’re going to go for three days and then take a mental break and do what we need to do. We have to make sure that we get everything that we need to get accomplished every time we step on the grass and on the practice field.

“The other thing when I talk about the buildup is we have to start fast and have our health and be game-ready, game one. Having three games in 13 days, I don’t know if that’s ever been done. If it has, it hasn’t been done quite often. We’ve tried to research everything from the Canadian Football League -- how do they handle time off during the course of the week. Getting your players back mentally, physically from what will be a very taxing 13 days, so we’ve really put a lot of emphasis on that.

“In terms of the offseason, you all have spoken about it, we’re really looking forward to taking the offseason to the practice field in the gains that we have made in the weight room. It should be the most competitive camp that we’ve had. As you all know, the greatest motivator is that of playing time, so we’re excited about that. It’s not just the quarterback battle that’ll be extremely competitive. It’s nine position groups around the board that should be extremely competitive. To give you a recap on our strength and our summer, significant progress during the summer months from a strength standpoint, a power standpoint and a muscular size standpoint but also from a confidence standpoint as well. We gave our players two days off the last two days and they’re still in the weight room. That comes from confidence that they have. They can feel their bodies changing, your body is your asset. They really feel good about where they’re at. We have 21 players on our team that can power clean 300 plus pounds, which we’ve never had that before. We have 10 players on our team that have squatted 500 pounds or more, and the exciting thing is that we have team records in the weight room. We have 64 different players whose names will be on that board, and of those 64 different players, 15 of those will be true freshmen, so that’s exciting as well. Our true freshmen have come in and elevated the level of competition. But I’ve really been excited to see the level of leadership that’s formed from our older players that are developing our freshmen into our culture and into our style and expectations.”

(On developing more depth)
"First of all, it starts in recruiting. You're always going to bring in a certain amount of players at every position, and you're always looking for competitive depth. I think it starts in the recruiting process, and you can't really underestimate the value of being able to redshirt an individual. Look at Darrell Taylor and what he was able to do. Look at Kendal Vickers now being a redshirt senior. When you look at the successful long haul of programs, it's about developing players. Some of our individuals have really aided from being older and being able to redshirt. Some develop more than others. The big thing is the competitive depth that Coach Shoop talks about. That starts in recruiting and development. It's every player understanding that their opportunity will come, but you never know when it will present itself. You have to treat yourself like a starter even when you're getting limited reps in practice because you never know when you're time is going to come. When it does, you have to take advantage of it. That will be a constant theme throughout training camp and the course of the season."

(On players who will be limited or out at the start of fall camp)
"Chance Hall is getting a second opinion on his knee, so he will be limited. I'll probably know a little bit more by the end of the weekend. Daniel Bituli and Darrin Kirkland Jr. will be extremely limited starting off. That will be an opportunity for individuals at the linebacker position to get quality reps early in camp. We have talked a lot about Shy Tuttle. The encouraging thing is that he will be available for individual drills and some different things with bag and movement drills. For us, we have to address his progress each and every day and make sure we don't put too much on him. Those are the four individuals right now who will be very limited. Everyone else is full go."

(On the MIKE linebacker position going into camp with Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Daniel Bituli limited)
"Obviously, we've had a lot of individuals who have played football there. Cortez McDowell has really done a good job of changing his body. He looks like a completely different person. He has dedicated himself to eating the right things and getting in the weight room. Colton Jumper has played a lot of football for us. Having Quart'e Sapp back is going to be important. Elliott Berry also returns from injury. That should be a very competitive battle, and every rep is going to be critical for them. Dillon Bates will be back as well. They will have a great opportunity with some of the individuals out at the start of camp."

(On the depth along the offensive line)
"Competitiveness brings out the best in individuals. All of our position groups have done a great job of embracing the competitive spirit. Again, you're responsible for what you create on a daily basis. To me, it's not who runs with the first team, second team or third team. It's all about reps. We will have a rep count on every single player in our program. It's not just about the team reps, but it's the individual reps that are being looked at meetings, retention of information and style of play. To me, the biggest thing is the consistency in your performance. Are you the same person every day? 

"On the offensive front, we have a number of individuals who have played. For us, it's finding the five that are ready. As we know, I don't look at it as a starting five. I look at it as a starting 10. We will mix around some starting combinations and lineups and see which one works well for us. Another thing is getting the health back on our defensive line. We have to be able to block Kahlil McKenzie and Kendal Vickers. That will help out a lot. Trey Smith needs to block Kahlil. When you look at the competitive structure of your football team, it's not just on each side of the ball; it's inter-positional as well."

(On areas of focus for the team during camp)
"The first thing we talk about is consistency. It's easy to be excited about Practice No. 1 and Practice No. 2, but how is this football team and its leadership going to be when you get to the grind of training camp and it's Practice No. 18 and you need your leadership? You're tired mentally and physically and that's where your toughness comes into play. I think the overall level of consistency day in and day out and getting back to what we have focused on since the inception of this football team which are details, accountability and toughness are important. One of the things we talk about is simplifying the message. We've really tried to define those things for our football team and what the two or three elements of each that we're looking for. 

"I think with consistency comes competitive depth and we'll see which freshmen are going to be able to help us. When you have three games in 13 days, you're going to have to rely on the depth of your football team. Also, special teams performance is important. We take great pride in playing great special teams around here and two years ago we were top five in the country in just about every aspect. Last year, we weren't quite as proficient as we needed to be, so we're going to get back to playing great special teams here as well."

(On the team's preparation for Georgia Tech)
"In terms of Georgia Tech, they present a great challenge. They are a very talented football team. I believe they have the best o-line that they've had since they've been there. We all know the many issues and edge that they have and which they play with. 

"We're going to have to play complimentary football. Our offensive players have to know that they're probably going to have 40 snaps in a game. That's it. We're used to getting 40 snaps in a half and now, we're going to get 40-45 snaps in an entire game. I think not just for the defense, I think it's for all three phases of understanding complimentary football and how that is going to work in this game. That's the biggest thing.

Powered by Frankly