Five big things for Vols as spring practice starts

How UT answers questions will be key

Tennessee begins one of the most anticipated spring practices in a long time today. With 10 new coaches and brand new schemes across the board, there's no shortage of questions about the 2009 football team. Here's five of the most important:

1. Who's throwing the ball?

The quarterback race got a lot more one-sided with the news that Nick Stephens will miss three to four weeks with a broken wrist. That opens the door for Jonathan Crompton to embrace the job with open arms and make it a lot tougher for Stephens to get back in the discussion.

Quarterback was UT's biggest problem last year, but Crompton, Stephens and B.J. Coleman will benefit from a new approach this season. We'll soon see how resilient they are, as well as how they fit in another re-tooled offense.

2. How much will the defense change?

Despite a 5-7 record, UT's defense finished tied for third in the nation in total defense. That group loses five starters, including two linebackers and its most productive defensive end. Add a new scheme and a new coordinator in Monte Kiffin, and the defense has plenty of questions to answer.

Still, Eric Berry remains, as do veterans Rico McCoy, Dennis Rogan, Demetrice Morley and Dan Williams. It's not entirely starting from scratch, but this could be a very different defense than it was last season.

3. Anybody seen a few tackles?

The last few years defensive tackle has been an issue. That's the case this spring, too, but there's an even bigger shortage of offensive tackles.

Chris Scott, who many think is better suited to play guard, has started 26 consecutive games and should be the choice at one spot. Meanwhile, William Brimfield, Aaron Douglas, Cody Pope and Dallas Thomas will all get a look. One will likely be a starter this fall. On defense, Montori Hughes, Donald Langley, Chase Nelson, Andre Mathis and Victor Thomas will battle for a starting spot.

4. Who's on the move?

Former tight ends Douglas (offensive tackle) and Brandon Warren (wide receiver) begin spring at new positions. Here's betting a few more Vols change addresses in the next six weeks. Gerald Williams starts at linebacker, but he could be better suited to defensive end.

Part of spring practice is making sure the right players are playing the right positions, but it's also a chance for contributors to become starters and bench warmers to become contributors. The Vols need players in both categories to step forward.

5. Will the players buy it?

Early accounts seem to indicate that Tennessee's players have bought into Lane Kiffin's approach. That's a positive first step - and a vital one if the Vols are going to have a productive spring. Players were skeptical of Dave Clawson's offense a year ago, which was more of a two-year project than many realized early on. UT's new offense under Kiffin and coordinator Jim Chaney is much less complicated and could be a welcome change for most. But change is coming to defense and special teams, too.

Across the board, Kiffin wants his players to believe and adopt some of the swagger he's shown in three months on the job. Rebuilding the confidence of a team that had almost none at the end of the season is going to be key.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 169

allntl1#565211 writes:

Second!!! yes.
That did not feel that good.
I can not imagine first feeling much better.
It will never happen again.

smashmouth98 writes:

I'm so pumped, Let's get this thing going!!!

hotrodvol writes:
teampenny#658108 writes:

As the QB's go so goes this team. Last year the lack of production at this position cost us several games. Hope LK hype and system improves their play. Go Vols

gohawks1 writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

Second!!! yes.
That did not feel that good.
I can not imagine first feeling much better.
It will never happen again.

That's funny right there!

orangebass writes:

Well Gatorzz sounds like he was just being honest.

Seriouslyorange writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GoTennessee writes:

This team will be improved. How much will depend on two important factors:
1-How does the O line and the D line play?
2-Can the players, that are needed to be on the field for us to win, stay healthy?

If we can have a winning season and show a lot of improvement over the 2008 season, the big time recruits will sign up next February! 2009 is important for recruiting!!!

bluetick writes:

Why do you idiots even respond to these dill weeds? Anyways, your bed, you sleep in it.

Voluvr writes:

in response to smashmouth98:

I'm so pumped, Let's get this thing going!!!

Okay now Mr. snotbubble, don't peak too early!!!

1974Vol writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think you're just afraid lil' Lane's gonna start coming to the Swamp and singing Rocky Top all night long!

hotrodvol writes:

Two things I like the best about this spring special teams will be better, and Crompton will have a make or break spring. If he proves himself in this new system we will have a starter. If he flops as he did last year he will be our highest rated senior to have ever carried a clip board. Of course Jim Bob Cooter was the most popular ever.

bhorton#213253 writes:

gatorzz....i'm getting sleepy....zz

Caspian writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get ready. We're coming.

jamesarobertson#633301 writes:

I keep reading what a great recruiting staff we have, yet it the same old story - Orson Charles, one of the nations top football prospects at tight end chose Georgia over UT and USC. All the top linemen, UT greatest need outside of a super quarterback, are evading UT like a plague. Who really believes the last top running back is coming to UT. You dreamers might as well wake up, 2009 is going to be a disaster!

99gator writes:

in response to jamesarobertson#633301:

I keep reading what a great recruiting staff we have, yet it the same old story - Orson Charles, one of the nations top football prospects at tight end chose Georgia over UT and USC. All the top linemen, UT greatest need outside of a super quarterback, are evading UT like a plague. Who really believes the last top running back is coming to UT. You dreamers might as well wake up, 2009 is going to be a disaster!

for sake of argument.....

if you are right and 2009 is a disaster, it won't all be kiffin's fault.

you can only play the hand you are dealt.

personnally, i don't think 2009 will be all that noteworthy because i don't think he's got the same level of talent as some other teams in the league.

give him time to bring in his recruits and give him more than six weeks to convince those recruits to come to tennessee.

maybe things will get better. maybe they won't. but, it is going to take time.....regardless of who they hired.

1974Vol writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, why would a girl feel threatened just because a 300 lb guy who's raped her three times get's on a bus with her? You guys don't need football players with better character, just more co-eds who know when to shut the hell up.

Oh by the way, us guys in the Hills never read Pravda either.

volstasis writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

As the QB's go so goes this team. Last year the lack of production at this position cost us several games. Hope LK hype and system improves their play. Go Vols

Maybe not. If you look at it in another prospective; if the other two flop or may get injured, Tennessee has to stick with one QB.

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to GoTennessee:

This team will be improved. How much will depend on two important factors:
1-How does the O line and the D line play?
2-Can the players, that are needed to be on the field for us to win, stay healthy?

If we can have a winning season and show a lot of improvement over the 2008 season, the big time recruits will sign up next February! 2009 is important for recruiting!!!

I believe this season will give us a hint of LK's coaching and judging of talent. He believes these three QB's can get the job done and he failed to sign on enough offensive players. Short on time is a weak excuse. Others were able to with less time. This is why we play the GAMES-to see how every one performs including the coaches. This week starts the walk-we will see. Go Vols

therazbo writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

lil-gay-zzzz

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know if I was somewhere that EVERYONE hated me I would probably leave. . . . (hint hint)

BIGEJ writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How would you know about Meyer's phone conversations? Do work at KNS and the UF office administration; make up your mind what you are trying to articulate....GO VOLS

hotrodvol writes:

in response to 99gator:

for sake of argument.....

if you are right and 2009 is a disaster, it won't all be kiffin's fault.

you can only play the hand you are dealt.

personnally, i don't think 2009 will be all that noteworthy because i don't think he's got the same level of talent as some other teams in the league.

give him time to bring in his recruits and give him more than six weeks to convince those recruits to come to tennessee.

maybe things will get better. maybe they won't. but, it is going to take time.....regardless of who they hired.

Good post 99, what do you think 6-7 wins with a bad Qb, 9-10 wins with a good Qb.

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thats because that urban weiner just cried about it to everyone. He should have been more concerned with why so many of his players have been arrested over his coaching time period at Florida. Sounds like he isn't too worried about setting a good example . . . . . . that tells us alot.

Vol_from_birth writes:

i would like to see more sacks, big plays or long sustained drives, better special teams play, and most importantly, a solid QB.

tnvolintheboro writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well we all know if Jeffrey and Wilson said something, its just gotta be true. Give me a break.

therewillbeorange writes:

in response to chuck0303#1342365:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree, the comment sounds bad. But we don't know what kind of relationship these two had developed. I think/hope Kiff was just messing with the kid when he realized he lost him. No way he said it in a spiteful manner. At least I want to believe he didn't

Regardless, the Kiffhaters will be all over this one.

VolunteerPassion writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah. It tells us that Urby can give, but can't take. It shows us that Urby can't take the teeth-gritted rivalries outside of the stadium or it hurts his wittle feelins. Don't forget to wear your nice tie tonight on your date with your mom.

GahLee writes:

Yeah, it says that we are rivals and I want to step on your throat. Just like the ol' ball coach making quips about...well everybody, no different. Lane has the b@lls to say what is on his mind, unlike so many of the other cliche talking fools. Urban only took the "high road" for apperance, if he has any b@lls at all he would have fought back, like a man would.

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you actually did GOD BLESS YOUR GREAT SOUL THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU lmfao

tnvolintheboro writes:

It is amazing that any florida fan would ever talk about "uncivil" comments from a coach. Your former coach "Steve the mouth" made more uncivil comments about other schools (including Tennessee) than any coach that I can remember. But, let CLK make a comment and florida fans start to cry (at least the ones on this site. Be big boys and take it as well as give it.

GahLee writes:

Assumptions, you have no ground to stand on, as usual Gatorzz. Nick could have broke his wrist any number of ways, a lot can happen when you get out of the house, of course you wouldn't know anything about that.

99gator writes:

in response to hotrodvol:

Good post 99, what do you think 6-7 wins with a bad Qb, 9-10 wins with a good Qb.

i don't know. because i don't know how much the rest of the league will improve or take a step back, etc.

but, for me, the BIG problem is the offensive and defensive line.

if there is slight improvement or no improvement from the qb position, it will be a struggle again, because i don't know how much help the qb will get from the uglies.

they will need (IMO) better than average play from the qb to compensate for the line.

but, i don't know how much kiffin and the staff will be able to make improvements at all of the position groups.

but, my gut tells me their is not much on the line to work with (either side)

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If he said somethng, no matter the time frame, ITS WHINING. Ut hasn't hid anything it's simple just not important. Players causes for injuries go unreported all the time, your simply trying to make something out of nothing because you enjoy coming on to a site that your not welcome on and trying to get everyone riled up. lil Lane as you have come to call him in the coming years is going to strike fear in the hearts of gators and their players that for some reason love to rape women.

murrayvol writes:

in response to DestinVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I didn't know anybody pumped gas anymore.

bobbytodd writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

For once I am actually on your side. You adult diaper wearing, trailer park living, cat owning, momma's boy. CLK is totally wrong because full service gas stations are no longer around. These guys will end up cleaning my room when I stay at the beach. Its sad when you have to put your wallet in a zip lock bag to go swimming. I do look good in my jorts though. Thanks for sharing your 2009 Jortopia catalog.

tnvolintheboro writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gatorzz,Jeffrey and Wilson said that they heard your mother broke Stephens wrist with her new spin move in her new $ex swing. They said it so it must be true.

By the way, why are you so concerned with why UT hired Kiffin. Just realize we did and the Gators will have a really tough road in the very near future.

GahLee writes:

If those teams knew what kind of staff he would assemble, that would have hired him in a heartbeat. I think people have a strong dislike for Lane because of his take-no-prisoners attitude, and he is a bit abrasive, or so it seems. He is the kind of man that you dislike if he isn't on your side, fortunately for US, he is on ours. No one cares who didn't hire him, only who was smart enough to hire him.

murrayvol writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It doesn't take long to write a column UTfan.

hotrodvol writes:

in response to murrayvol:

It doesn't take long to write a column UTfan.

BINGO!!!

Go4Two writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I hope coach didn't say this to a kid. My guess is no coach would be dumb enough to say that.

Ironcity writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gator quit responding to your self. Meyer is notorious for being one of the dirtiest recruiters in the country. Everyone knows it but hey, if he can live with himself, then more power to him. Personally I don't think their is anything thing coach Kiffin can do that would get himself in the sewer as deep as Meyer.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to 99gator:

i don't know. because i don't know how much the rest of the league will improve or take a step back, etc.

but, for me, the BIG problem is the offensive and defensive line.

if there is slight improvement or no improvement from the qb position, it will be a struggle again, because i don't know how much help the qb will get from the uglies.

they will need (IMO) better than average play from the qb to compensate for the line.

but, i don't know how much kiffin and the staff will be able to make improvements at all of the position groups.

but, my gut tells me their is not much on the line to work with (either side)

Not sold on the O-line not being solid.Two years ago they were an execelent O-line that got us to the seccg.Of course that was before the Clawfense disaster.I think the talent is there.Just hope Kiffin can erase all knowledge,or lack thereof,from last year.

The D-line?They were awfully good last year.Got some new blood there and talent,just not the #'s we would like.Alot I think will depend on injuries,without which,we should be fine.

tennezz writes:

I HAVEN`T BEEN THIS EXCITED SINCE THE florida, OLE MISS GAME!

gwbask writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Urban Meyer has racked up an impressive résumé at Florida, including two National Titles and a Heisman Trophy winner. While it is less publicized, Meyer is also looking to take the lead for active coaches in most arrested players under one head coach.

Offensive guard Carl Johnson became the 22nd player arrested since Urban Meyer became coach of the Gators, the fourth in the past 10 months. While Meyer may know a thing or two about coaching a football team, this all appears lost when teaching young men the game of life.

Apparently Johnson violated a domestic violence restraining order filed against him by an ex-girlfriend. While Johnson tips the scales at 330 pounds these days, he felt the need to see his ex up close and personal.

While players and young men in general getting into trouble here and there is part of growing up and can even be part of life experiences, what we have developing in Gainesville has gone beyond that and is now a trend.

While we rarely hear about these Gator arrests, they sure are out there. And as Urban Meyer has been known to use negative publicity against other teams for his own recruiting edge, he sure is giving all of the others around the country plenty of ammunition to bring with them into the living rooms of high school players all around the country.

Johnson joins ex-teammates Cam Newton (Felony Burglary), Jamar Hornsby (Felony Credit Card Theft), and Jacques Rickerson (Felony Battery) in the latest of Meyer players being brought to justice.

And the beat goes on at Criminal U.

Nuff said

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh please all those teams wanted him. And five games at oakland? In the state of that place is astonishing. Thats like a super bowl!!! And you are just plain ignorant if you think lane won't last more than three years. . . . . or scared.

tnvolintheboro writes:

in response to gwbask:

Urban Meyer has racked up an impressive résumé at Florida, including two National Titles and a Heisman Trophy winner. While it is less publicized, Meyer is also looking to take the lead for active coaches in most arrested players under one head coach.

Offensive guard Carl Johnson became the 22nd player arrested since Urban Meyer became coach of the Gators, the fourth in the past 10 months. While Meyer may know a thing or two about coaching a football team, this all appears lost when teaching young men the game of life.

Apparently Johnson violated a domestic violence restraining order filed against him by an ex-girlfriend. While Johnson tips the scales at 330 pounds these days, he felt the need to see his ex up close and personal.

While players and young men in general getting into trouble here and there is part of growing up and can even be part of life experiences, what we have developing in Gainesville has gone beyond that and is now a trend.

While we rarely hear about these Gator arrests, they sure are out there. And as Urban Meyer has been known to use negative publicity against other teams for his own recruiting edge, he sure is giving all of the others around the country plenty of ammunition to bring with them into the living rooms of high school players all around the country.

Johnson joins ex-teammates Cam Newton (Felony Burglary), Jamar Hornsby (Felony Credit Card Theft), and Jacques Rickerson (Felony Battery) in the latest of Meyer players being brought to justice.

And the beat goes on at Criminal U.

Nuff said

GREAT POST

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is s unbelievable of how jealous you are of first place!! Poor guy, that is the fifteenth time you have posted it. What a sore loser get over yourself.

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

in response to gwbask:

Urban Meyer has racked up an impressive résumé at Florida, including two National Titles and a Heisman Trophy winner. While it is less publicized, Meyer is also looking to take the lead for active coaches in most arrested players under one head coach.

Offensive guard Carl Johnson became the 22nd player arrested since Urban Meyer became coach of the Gators, the fourth in the past 10 months. While Meyer may know a thing or two about coaching a football team, this all appears lost when teaching young men the game of life.

Apparently Johnson violated a domestic violence restraining order filed against him by an ex-girlfriend. While Johnson tips the scales at 330 pounds these days, he felt the need to see his ex up close and personal.

While players and young men in general getting into trouble here and there is part of growing up and can even be part of life experiences, what we have developing in Gainesville has gone beyond that and is now a trend.

While we rarely hear about these Gator arrests, they sure are out there. And as Urban Meyer has been known to use negative publicity against other teams for his own recruiting edge, he sure is giving all of the others around the country plenty of ammunition to bring with them into the living rooms of high school players all around the country.

Johnson joins ex-teammates Cam Newton (Felony Burglary), Jamar Hornsby (Felony Credit Card Theft), and Jacques Rickerson (Felony Battery) in the latest of Meyer players being brought to justice.

And the beat goes on at Criminal U.

Nuff said

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK GOD WHAT A GREAT POST. AND WITH THAT IM OUT. Good night great volunteer fans everywhere! VOLS>GATORS

tnvolintheboro writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Imagine that....A florida DA dropping the charges against a "star" florida football player. I smell a cover-up. NCAA is watching.

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