Keeping score making UT practices competitive

Happen by Haslam Field on Tuesday night and chances are you’ll hear plenty of noise.

When the Tennessee football team resumes spring practice after last week’s spring break, there will be plenty of pads popping. If UT’s first three practices are any indication, you’ll hear some hoots and hollers, too.

By the time players reach the team portion of practice, they’ve already been at it for close to 21⁄2 hours. That’s some 150 minutes of work — 25 minutes shy of the running time for “The Godfather” — with little wasted motion. So to help maintain intensity during the team period, UT coach Lane Kiffin is keeping score.

And that’s more than just grading film at the end of the day.

During 11-on-11 work, the offense and defense can score points based on their performance against each other in the last practice period of the day. Players are kept abreast of the score, and as the clock winds down on the day’s workout, the shouts grow louder.

“It starts to feel like a game,” safety Eric Berry says. “That just makes the games that are going to come in the fall easier to deal with. We’re always running to the ball, running down the field 30 yards after we already tagged the guy off, so we’re just going to be in so much better shape and ready to play this fall.”

There’s a method to the approach beyond just having fun.

Since arriving at Tennessee, Kiffin has promised to foster competition. So far this spring, the Vols have been receptive.

“Every spring the same thing’s going to be told to our payers, just what’s been told to these guys: This is their chance to shine,” Kiffin said.

That approach helped spark a resurgence at Southern California under head coach Pete Carroll. Two of the masons in that rebuilding effort — Kiffin and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron — have brought the same mentality to Tennessee.

“We make every drill competitive so they know the score of the drill,” Kiffin said. “It creates more energy about it. Instead of just going to your 24th play of the day, you have a new phase, you have a new thing you’re going to and you have a new way to keep score.”

And, if you’re on the defensive side of the ball, a winning streak to protect.

“It’s bragging rights for us a little bit,” said defensive end Chris Walker, who said UT’s defense is 3-0 this spring. “We get to go in the locker room and tell them we won again. It’s something fun that we do, but it’s also really serious to help our team get better.”

Count quarterback Jonathan Crompton among those who like to keep score.

“I think that’s pretty cool, because it makes it more competitive and more fun,” he said.

And, so far at least, the Vols have found that work and fun aren’t always mutually exclusive.

“We don’t see anybody who’s like, ‘Man, we’ve been out here three hours,’ ” Walker said. “It’s just going through work. Competition makes everything fun, so we just let the time fly by.”

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

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 167

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I imagine that D should be 3-0.

Coach 'em up, HCLK and find us a QB.

snafu14u#241639 writes:

Offense won't be much different than last year. Same QB's. I like the approach though. bonzaivol

asleep#212036 writes:

Competition for playing time may have been the biggest missing piece of the puzzle the last few seasons of the Fulmer era. I always wondered why he was so loyal to upperclassmen who couldn't or wouldn't perform on game day. Even with our [purported] decrease in overall talent versus our major conference rivals, I have felt for years we had too many potential stars sitting on the bench "learning how to play at the SEC level". Putting your best 22 on the field every game would seem to be the shortest path to success at any given level of talent and/or experience. Not that I would change a thing regarding our coaching situation, but it is a little sad if a guy as successful as ole' Phil lost his job because he couldn't understand a concept as simple as that. I, for one, am darn glad that Lane gets it!! Go Vols!!!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

football is one of the most fun sports to play...when you play. I know when I was practicing, I hated grass drills, running, pushing sleds.

However, when it came to 1-v-1, or 4 on 3, or scrimmaging, those where great times I remember to this day.

My favorite, which you guys might call the Tennessee drill??
you have pads define a lane. you have an offensive and defensive player, one to block, one to tackle. you have a running back. It was SO much fun to shed the blocker and whack some RB...especially when you looked down the field and they (rb's) where on one knee while you (linemen) where pushing the sled :)

smokyredbone writes:

1..2..3 Waitin on the trolls, sounds a little different from the way CPF ran spring ball! Very little game like action and even less full speed contact and no score keeping!!Yeah, Here we come Tebow!!

FlaVol2 writes:

Keep having competitive fun Vols. You will end up big winners.

NorthwestVol writes:

Could they maybe interview someone besides Crompton?

SignalMtnVol writes:

just got my tickets for the O&W game today. I hope they put on a spectacular show. Who else is going?

SLOBBER_knocker_U writes:

Gosh Darnit! Now thats what I like to hear, they are workin like heck!

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gator, Fulmer had his time and place. Even you have to admit that during his peak, he was one of the most dominating coaches in CFB. Unfortunately, the program went downhill, and it was his time to go. I hope that Coach Kiffin meets and exceeds the expectations and standards that Coach Fulmer set here.

Greer_Vol_22 writes:

everyone has missed a key point here, EB said a mouthful......."so we’re just going to be in so much better shape and ready to play this fall.”

an admission that our only starter was not in the best possible shape last year. I'm sorry, but you can be down on talent and have a new offensive scheme and a QB with dodo brains, but in the SEC there is no reason to be out of shape.

TommyJack writes:

in response to NorthwestVol:

Could they maybe interview someone besides Crompton?

Amen, brother.

volstasis writes:

I just read an article on ESPN, and the gator players are spouting off about Kiffin's commits.

belayvol writes:

Man, i have not been this excited since we hired......uh, what was his name again?

txsvol#372416 writes:

In 11th paragraph, I hope the writer meant 'p(l)ayers,' not 'payers.' SAVol

Waldorf writes:

This, my friends, is change that I can believe in!

belayvol writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So what get's you through the night? Drugs? Alcohol? Both? It must be a harsh lesson to look in the mirror every day and realize that you are 30+ years old, have zero life, spend most of your time on here, and your girlfriend left you when you bit her on the rear and she flew out the window.

OrangeMan_86 writes:

in response to snafu14u#241639:

Offense won't be much different than last year. Same QB's. I like the approach though. bonzaivol

The offense will be way different... Crompton, Stephens and Colemon weren't recruited for the spread. The spread is now gone. Look at Michigans offense since Rich Rod got there. Like Tennessee, they don't have mobile quarterbacks. Crompton can scramble but I wouldn't consider him mobile. Same goes for Threet. You need a Pat White, Tim Tebow etc. Granted they are good anyways... Tennessee and Michigan's quarterbacks don't have anywhere near the mobility required for the spread. That is why Fulmer/Clawson recruited Tajh Boyd and that is also why he doesn't fit Kiffin's offense. Not only that but one year isn't enough to learn an entire system. It's back to a normal offense. The offense will look way better this year than it did last year.

Voluvr writes:

in response to SignalMtnVol:

just got my tickets for the O&W game today. I hope they put on a spectacular show. Who else is going?

I hear that media day will be in the indoor practice field and as people go through they will assemble for the years first VOL WALK down to the stadium for the game.

Down_The_Field writes:

i like the sound of this.

if we keep this up, i'll be able to enjoy that 14 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive against an sec team on the road. oh, all rushes too.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to SignalMtnVol:

just got my tickets for the O&W game today. I hope they put on a spectacular show. Who else is going?

i'll be there and it'll start down the "w" road for me. you?

OrangeMan_86 writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

robow writes:

in response to volstasis:

I just read an article on ESPN, and the gator players are spouting off about Kiffin's commits.

Kiffen said he is looking forward to singing Rocky Top, all night long..my name is robow and I approve of this message.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to Voluvr:

I hear that media day will be in the indoor practice field and as people go through they will assemble for the years first VOL WALK down to the stadium for the game.

better spend the night if you want to shake captain eric berry's hand.

Voluvr writes:

We don't have to be the best this year. I just look forward to some "during the game" on field adjustments in our schemes. Chavis was decent, but ie. Cal...started dumping underneath and we never pulled up. Years of that stuff.

Rockford writes:

Go Vols! The football program is awesome right now. KNS: Please use spell-check before you post content. This isn't a UGA site. We have a rep to keep up.

OrangeMan_86 writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The next great pro safety that will be blowing up that next bum of a tight end in the NFL.

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to NorthwestVol:

Could they maybe interview someone besides Crompton?

Agree he talks well plays like a woman!

OrangeMan_86 writes:

I'm off for the night fellow Vol fans. Please stop entertaining the interlopers. If we stop talking to the loser trolls, they'll go away. That or they'll continue to sit in their parents basement posting messages to themselves. Either way we win and they are still pathetic.

Voluvr writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eric the one who keeps you up all night on this site.

UTandETSUfan writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ask your messiah Tebow. He wears Eric Berry pajamas.

Voluvr writes:

in response to OrangeMan_86:

I'm off for the night fellow Vol fans. Please stop entertaining the interlopers. If we stop talking to the loser trolls, they'll go away. That or they'll continue to sit in their parents basement posting messages to themselves. Either way we win and they are still pathetic.

So true. Okay. Ignore the interlopers. Spread the word.

appalachianvol writes:

Thanks for the article,
I needed a football fix. Give us somthing everyday if possible. Any news about 2010 signees?

Voluvr writes:

I am so proud of these guys. I'm proud of the new work ethic. I'm proud of the great recruiting job they've done, coaches and players. I'm proud of the high quality and character of the new recruits they've brought in like Bryce Brown.

Every day, there's something new to be proud of out of our great University. I'm proud to be a Tennessee Vol.

belayvol writes:

Turn Rod Wilks loose on Teabow! Nothing but blood and bits of gore left!

GahLee writes:

I think that opening all starting positions[excluding Berry, of course] will give all the incentive that these boys need...I hated when guys would start because of seniority...always thought that was one of Fulmer's greatest faults. Come fall these boys will be ready to play, and may the best man for the job, get the job.

GahLee writes:

Thought that Rod Wilks was a receiver? Actually thought that he was our highest rated recruit of a few years back...could have swore he was a receiver, maybe he changed positions, UT has been known to do that a time or two.

GahLee writes:

Either way...Clemson seems to be happy with their choice...and UT is ecstatic about theirs...Go Vols!!!

invisiblekid writes:

in response to GahLee:

Thought that Rod Wilks was a receiver? Actually thought that he was our highest rated recruit of a few years back...could have swore he was a receiver, maybe he changed positions, UT has been known to do that a time or two.

Wilks also worked to carve a hitter's frame. The 6-foot, 220-pounder who shuffled through three positions -- wideout, safety and linebacker -- last fall said Tennessee's new coaching staff helped him settle into the defensive backfield.

"Coach (Lane) Kiffin moved me back at safety. I kind of dropped my weight and got some of my speed back, so they moved back from linebacker to safety," said the former Tennessee Class 5A Mr. Football. "I'm excited to be back there."

invisiblekid writes:

in response to Greer_Vol_22:

everyone has missed a key point here, EB said a mouthful......."so we’re just going to be in so much better shape and ready to play this fall.”

an admission that our only starter was not in the best possible shape last year. I'm sorry, but you can be down on talent and have a new offensive scheme and a QB with dodo brains, but in the SEC there is no reason to be out of shape.

Astute observation.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to SignalMtnVol:

just got my tickets for the O&W game today. I hope they put on a spectacular show. Who else is going?

I'll be there signal and can't wait to drive up from Gulf Breeze, Fl.
GO VOLS

StroVol writes:

"I think that's pretty cool". Crompton needs to shut up and learn how to play the game. How about " I need to recognize a blitz." or " I need to get a first down with my legs to keep drives alive." We are all stocked up on COOL.

therazbo writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

lil-gay-zzzz3333

txvolsfan writes:

in response to gatorz3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your wrong loser gurl, CLK told these schools that he was going to wait on UT and if they couldn't wait then they should move on!!!
Get your facts straight before you run your little gurl mouth!!!
or cry like your coach

txvolsfan writes:

This is the year that the Gators phooey the bed!!!
I think they lose 2 games this year and are a Citrus
bowl bunch!!!!

belayvol writes:

in response to GahLee:

Thought that Rod Wilks was a receiver? Actually thought that he was our highest rated recruit of a few years back...could have swore he was a receiver, maybe he changed positions, UT has been known to do that a time or two.

Nooooo, Rod wilks is the mastermind of the infamous 1-1 defense. Rod Wilks plays middle linebacker and E.B. takes everything deep. You rest your other 9 defensive players for kickoff coverages. It royally screws up the head of opposing offenses.

http://tennesseevols.wikia.com/wiki/R...

acolvol#632266 writes:

Hey all vols fans, got an idea. Let's all get orange and white bumper stickers with our Go Vols Xtra usernames on them. When we see them we will know who we have been talking with all these many months.

pms151 writes:

CFP was near the top of the coaching game in his time but he made the same mistaske CJM did. He let his personal success and thus the ego that goes with it pass him by. Given that the game bypassed him. Both had great success. Let's not forget it. CLK and crew are near the top of the game now. If the more traditional fans and the dissenting trustees will leave them alone they will succeed.

FLVol writes:

in response to snafu14u#241639:

Offense won't be much different than last year. Same QB's. I like the approach though. bonzaivol

The offense will be much different as it was when Cutcliffe took over for Randy Sanders.

GahLee writes:

Eric Berry is the best defensive player in all of college football...bar none. He is a hybrid mix of Ed Reed [ the ball-hawker, int machine, return skills and vision ] and Bob Sanders [ the run stopper and the clock cleaner ]. Those guys are arguably the 2 best defensive players in the NFL, Eric will be right there with them. He has near elite speed, exceptional vision, amazing instincts, the size, the will, the brains.....I could go on and on...simply stated...Eric is the best thing since sliced bread.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features