Gran calls all of Vols' special teams shots

Tennessee’s kicking specialists shared some special thoughts about Eddie Gran this week.

“Really organized, definitely attention to detail, a huge energy guy,” placekicker Daniel Lincoln said when asked to describe UT’s special teams coach. “He’ll keep you awake in meetings, that’s for sure. It’s definitely a big deal for him to be a part of what we’re doing here.”

UT used several coaches to coach special teams in recent years. Now, Gran coordinates all special teams with contributions from a handful of coaches.

Punter Chad Cunningham appreciates the change.

“I think it’s definitely good,” the junior said. “Nobody is confused about who to go to to talk about things; everybody knows it’s coach Gran. I feel like it will be a little more organized.”

Just being the boss isn’t the only reason Gran is liked by the Vols. They appreciate his energy.

“He’s definitely really loud and really in your face. His coaching style is so different from anybody we’ve gotten used to,” Lincoln said. “There’s no also, ands or buts. Coach Gran is the special teams coordinator. He’s on top of things and there’s definitely an emphasis there.”

For Kicks: With Gran’s plan, there will be no spread punt formation like the Vols used last year. UT will return to a traditional tight punt formation.

“I’m excited about it,” Cunningham said. “It will definitely give me more confidence — just having that little tunnel to kick in and not worrying about anybody coming through will definitely be a confidence booster.”

Cunningham admitted he wasn’t much of a fan of UT’s spread punt formation, in which blockers spread out wide from each other in hopes of getting down field quicker to tackle the punt returner.

The approach can allow a opponent to come free to block a punt. UT had two punts blocked in 2008.

“I wasn’t a fan of it,” Cunningham said, “but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Cunningham said his leg strength has improved and he is consistently posting hang times of 4.5 seconds and longer.

S.I.D. McCoy: Linebacker Rico McCoy doesn’t hold back the praise when he describes safety Eric Berry.

“You can’t tell me you watched a Tennessee game and weren’t impressed by Eric Berry,” McCoy said. “You can’t tell me you saw a better DB.”

McCoy seemed to almost be simmering from the awards that Berry didn’t win following his record-setting sophomore season in 2008. Berry lost the Jim Thorpe Award to Malcolm Jenkins of Ohio State.

“We wish he could get all the awards,” McCoy said. “We thought he deserved all the DB awards last year.

“If you went by stats, it was a no-brainer. If you watched the games, it was a no-brainer.

“He didn’t get them but you would like for him to get them next year. He’s definitely a hard worker and he deserves all of them.”

As for McCoy’s expectations for Berry in 2009, how about another record-setting season like 2008? McCoy wouldn’t be surprised.

“Another eight picks? Another eight interceptions?” McCoy said. “That would be crazy to say that but you can expect that from a guy like that. Three hundred return yards? A hundred tackles? Just another great year for him.”

The Real McCoy: Ask McCoy what he’s improved on and he’ll admit that it’s his work ethic.

“Lift more than the next guy. Run more than the next guy. It’s a mental thing,” McCoy said. “That’s what I’ve picked up this offseason: get my mind right. I’ve got to go out and work harder than everybody.”

Most would think UT’s defense will have to carry much of the load this season after its offense struggled last season. McCoy isn’t so sure.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll have a good offense,” he said. “I’m not worried about them. I just know this defense needs to take the top in every category. We need to be No. 1.”

Recruiting Trail: Dexter Morant, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound defensive end from Manning (S.C.) High School, picked Georgia. He was also considering UT, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Defensive back Cody Riggs from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale is planning on taking his official visit to UT for the UCLA game Sept. 12.

Riggs has said publicly that Florida and Georgia lead for his services. However, he has had little contact with UT’s coaches meaning his official visit will be vital for UT’s chances.

Notre Dame is climbing Riggs’ list of prospective schools while Florida has slipped, according to a source close to his recruitment.

Volunteering: Berry and defensive end Ben Martin will visit with local youth during a summer camp hosted by the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office.

The summer program promotes fine arts and recreation for rising third through eighth graders. The free program takes place in July on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m.

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Comments » 31

mbradshaw1#655539 writes:

Is it just me or are our players investing more of their time this year than in previous years? I think we will be something to be reckoned with, just out of want to if nothing else .

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ROCKYTOP10ECVOL writes:

Wow, it definately sounds like THE VOLS are putting that work in. Keep it up, Kickoff is coming soon. Man I can't wait to move past last season and get back to winning Tennessee Football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bluetick writes:

I agree much more organized than before. As far as special teams are concerned... IT'S ABOUT TIME that we see some better production from our special teams and I know if Gran is in charge we will. How could it possibly be any worse than before. I HATED the fact the CPF team didn't put more coaching and emphasis into special teams than they did.

Regarding Riggs.. if you have the attitude that is anything like your brothers was (of I'm the best, but couldn't produce) then go somewhere else. If you have some game and want to be a team player, then bring it on.

mbradshaw1#655539 writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First wise words from you. No need to make things more difficult than they already are. Thanks gator.

invisiblekid writes:

In other words, Special Teams has been a complete cluster the past several years and now someone is actually in charge of it.

Take away the recruiting angle, take away whatever he makes with the RB's, the special teams improvement alone will be worth what they are paying Gran.

dvhill100 writes:

Finally the special teams have a coach dedicated to making them special again.

Mansonlamps writes:

Yet another story in which the players make the former regime sound like idiots in comparison to Kiffin & Co.

TommyJack writes:

in response to invisiblekid:

In other words, Special Teams has been a complete cluster the past several years and now someone is actually in charge of it.

Take away the recruiting angle, take away whatever he makes with the RB's, the special teams improvement alone will be worth what they are paying Gran.

What the Kid said.

teampenny#658108 writes:

Have needed a special teams coach for years. It will be interesting to see if the but the best athletes on this team. Go Vols

onevolfan99 writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

that will be hard considering he graduated, are florida fans as dumb as they are @$$'s.

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

McCoy seemed to almost be simmering from the awards that Berry didn’t win following his record-setting sophomore season in 2008. Berry lost the Jim Thorpe Award to Malcolm Jenkins of Ohio State.

“If you went by stats, it was a no-brainer. If you watched the games, it was a no-brainer"

Exactly. There was no one more deserving of that than EB. No DB impacted a game the way EB did last year. In my opinion they gave it to Malcolm Jenkins purely because he was a senior. The stats between the finalists Berry/Mays/Jenkins did not compare.

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

Malcolm Jenkins 57 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack and 3 interceptions for 7 yards

Taylor Mays 53 tackles no interceptions

Eric Berry 72 tackles, 3 sacks, and 7 interceptions for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Who was more deserving last year? Not the guy who got the award.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

With all due respect to CPF, the special teams have been terrible for years with the exception of the individual talent of a punter or kicker who could get it done. Glad to see it turn.

givehim6 writes:

Looking forward to seeing some fire on our special teams. Hope lincoln can get back to his fres. form.

txsvol#372416 writes:

in response to nicksjuzunk#646117:

With all due respect to CPF, the special teams have been terrible for years with the exception of the individual talent of a punter or kicker who could get it done. Glad to see it turn.

Totally agree. The lack of a special teams coach is one of the main reasons we went 5-7 and CPF, deservingly IMO, was replaced. Now, I expect CLK to give/direct to Coach Gran some of our best athletes to play special teams. I expect our special teams to rank in the top echelon in the SEC. One or two games this season may be won by the play of special athletes on special teams. It was frustrating that we all recognized CPF's blind spots, and we knew that we were going to find some way to lose games we were supposed to win. Well, guys, those days are over. Whether we win or lose, we won't be predictable in 2009. SAVol

Volguy1971 writes:

I think Brandon James is a Sr this year. I say kick it to him again and light him up for a change.

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to Volguy1971:

I think Brandon James is a Sr this year. I say kick it to him again and light him up for a change.

That I believe is what the GATORS hope we do. Was not a good idea than and is not one now. Much easier to talk a good game-we are short in player numbers and talent. All takes time. Go Vols

NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop writes:

Why have a ST coach at all? CFP didn't need one.

Orangebrewbasher writes:

I cursed special teams under fulmer the entire time he was at the helm. It can't get much worse but I definitely like what i'm reading.

CrankE writes:

"He’ll keep you awake in meetings, that’s for sure."

Many times last season, it didn't appear that they woke up for the games either. Staying awake during team meetings is good!

orangebloodgmc writes:

in response to invisiblekid:

In other words, Special Teams has been a complete cluster the past several years and now someone is actually in charge of it.

Take away the recruiting angle, take away whatever he makes with the RB's, the special teams improvement alone will be worth what they are paying Gran.

I agree 100%.

hotrodvol writes:

As a Cowboy fan also, I'll never forget when Jimmy Johnson came in and changed my team. The main thing he did was bring in speed on defense. But special teams were always a top priority. Offense, defense and special teams are three parts to the game. If you can win two out of three of these phases of the game you will win a lot of games. How many times over the years have we lost the special teams battle. I bet those days are gone as Coach Gran, has always had a very good special teams.

cc623 writes:

The simple fact teams never had reason to fear our special teams(other than our residents punters)and I expected to see the opposing team either run one all the way back or very close was maddening.Nice to hear there will be some accountability this season and I like what i'm hearing from the players about CG.

VolunteerLifer writes:

A great kicking game was once one of the hallmarks of UT football. Watching the kicking game spiral downward under Coach Fulmer helped turn me against him. In fact, the blocked punt against UCLA was the straw that broke this camel's back of support for CPF. A lousy kicking game is a direct indicator of lousy coaching. Period. I'm relieved to know this staff is trying to correct the situation.

luvorange writes:

I am so glad to read this. Seriously, thinking about that blocked punt against UCLA last year still makes me mad. Finally, some accountability in special teams. Now, lets put some points on the board from em.

CoachFulmer writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I second that. He's the best punt returner in the SEC and arguably the best in the college ranks. Hopefully we can contain that kid when we beat Florida this year.

GO VOLS!

arlvol writes:

Gran will improve the special teams play immediately. Honestly, I never saw an assistant coach engaged with the special teams players at practice or during pre game warm ups the past few years. Jim Bob Cooter and few of his buddies were running the special teams.

n2thecheckerboards2 writes:

Im really looking forward to a huge change in special teams this year. Whats got me pumped though is Palardy coming in next year. Our special teams are gonna be truly "special" then.

DC_Vol writes:

in response to PepperGrinder:

Malcolm Jenkins 57 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack and 3 interceptions for 7 yards

Taylor Mays 53 tackles no interceptions

Eric Berry 72 tackles, 3 sacks, and 7 interceptions for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Who was more deserving last year? Not the guy who got the award.

Wow the stats don't lie. Berry should have won the award. Reminds me of when Peyton Manning was swindled out of the Heisman by ESPN marketing for Charles Woodson of Michigan. Is Woodson even playing football anymore?

ThaiVolFan writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I completely agree, thanks for the advice :)

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

in response to mbradshaw1#655539:

Is it just me or are our players investing more of their time this year than in previous years? I think we will be something to be reckoned with, just out of want to if nothing else .

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe just respected would be a decent start. Give Florida and Alabama a game would be nice.

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