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Development of Pope, Thomas key for Vols’ line

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Cody Pope has lost count of the moves that have put him at center.

The Tennessee junior has an exact number in mind that could help him stay there though.

Heading into the summer, Pope has one critical homework assignment from new Vols coach Derek Dooley. And considering all the struggles UT had simply getting the ball to the quarterback this spring, the latest favorite to win the starting job in the middle of a completely rebuilt offensive line hasn’t questioned it at all.

“Coach gave us the best words of encouragement, to both (Victor Thomas) and I,” Pope said. “If we’re not snapping every day, getting 100 snaps every day, we’re working for Florida or we’re working for Alabama, that’s the bottom line. I think that’s a big thing. I see where they’re coming from.

“This is serious right now. This is SEC football, and we are a little behind with where we are at center. I’ve never got snaps at center in an SEC game and neither has Vic, so we’re a little behind there. So if we’re not getting snaps every day, at least 100 or whatever it is, we’re basically kicking ourselves in the butt.”

The Vols may have some work to do all over the field to keep opponents from kicking them around as well, but the load is undoubtedly heaviest on the offensive line.

UT didn’t get a true evaluation up front with the unit split into two for Saturday’s Orange and White Game, but the constant pressure on the quarterback and lack of consistency in the running game provided another reminder that the biggest concern at the start of Dooley’s first spring is the same at the end. And while Dallas Thomas and Ja’Wuan James have shown great ability at tackle, JerQuari Schofield and Jerrod Shaw have emerged as viable options at guard and Pope may have finally settled into a role at center, the tinkering up front is nowhere near done.

“On the offensive line, it’s hard to say it could have been much better given the situation,” Dooley said. “I think we have some very talented young linemen. Our biggest concern upfront was center position, and it still is. Cody Pope has really persevered through the spring, we’ve played him at guard, we’ve moved him to tackle and then we’ve moved him inside, and I think he’s ended up being a good, steady hand and he and Vic will battle it out at center.

“Now the big concern is depth, and we’ve got some young cats behind them, but I feel good about that first five.”

That was perhaps the theme of spring for the Vols, who could offer that same sort of assessment at nearly every position.

The starting rotation at defensive line and in the secondary is clearly talented, though there’s not a whole lot in reserve. UT has great potential at linebacker, but that’s contingent on a handful of players returning from brutal injuries and surgeries.

The Vols are well-stocked at receiver and they appear to have an every-down, SEC-caliber rusher in Tauren Poole.

But the passing game will be reliant on a new starter, and before Poole can take a handoff, the quarterback has to have a successful exchange from the center.

Which, obviously, Pope was made well aware of before the offseason even began.

“At one time I went to the coaches and was like, ‘Hey, are you going to keep moving me around or what’s the deal?’” Pope said. “They said it was a big positive, that they think I can be moved around and be very versatile. At the end of the day I was just happy to maybe find a home at center.”

And he’s more than willing to start counting snaps this summer if he doesn’t have to do it for position changes again.

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Comments » 37

KJVol writes:

Nice, substantive article by Ward. The O-line may not be as bad as feared if we can just develop some depth in the fall. We'll be young, but a good healthy dose of three-step drops for our QB's and a good running game (Poole) may work wonders for the team's confidence. It does look like we'll at least have a full contingent of SEC-type bodies, unlike last year when the boy wonder played the twins and left some big bodies on the bench.

Denvervol4life writes:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

ThaiVolFan writes:

We need to have one of them emerge as a real leader for our young line. If the center position can get taken care of I think the rest of the puzzle will come together and make for an adequate O line. I like what Dooley said, he feels it's the running back that makes the line and not vice-versa. I think we have the backs with the ability to create. Go Vols!

RoadTrip writes:

Now go win the job, Cody, and make your name among the great Vol and SEC centers. We need someone to take charge in the middle of the line with all of the young 'uns coming in.

Ironcity writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

Your post was hard to read.

Titan writes:

Why no mention of Thomas' knee injury yesterday? Maybe they don't know extent yet but Austin could have at least said that!!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

Was naysayer land with some dash of realism. Of course ,this was a spring game remember? Some help on the way in the summer and fall. That being said, the last sentence was uncalled for and very juvenile. Grade the coach on a full body of work at his present job. How long has he been here? Article was about the center position so on TOPIC it will be hard,but we have some coaches who have been around some talented players. Ya know they just might scheme it where we make it work so that the line can learn and grow with limited pains/mistakes. Optimist and realist trusting coaches with NFL resumes just might know a thing or two. Just need willing disciples to listen ,learn, and apply.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

You know what else is horrible? Your grammar.

PureOrange writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

Not sure you are from Alabama or Mississippi. Regardless, I am glad you are not one of us. Our Vols will be just fine.

Now you can go back to your team.

TNvalleyVOL writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

well u aint no reel fan cuz a reel fan would never mbaras his univ wit a post lik dat...am jus keepn it reel

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Your post was hard to read.

Just guessing but that maybe because he either didn't or couldn't write it.

cumberlandVOL writes:

haha, reading all the bickering on the comments is about as entertaining as the article!

VolGrad writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

It you some issues have for there ain't but none to understand what for you saying all this about. And what the MAC-PAC-SunBelt-WAC you give the dog a cadillac and go all Jimmie crack corn and you don't care about that?

Man, it is tough to write like that. How do you do it?

Denvervol4life writes:

I'm doin all this on a phone grammar police. Point is stop drinking the kool aid te same jerks on here posting how great Dooley is and he doin the right thing keppin traditions bla bla. Will be the same people callin in the radio show questioning him and wanting him fired after the Oregon game. When ky ends the streak this yr there will be mattresses burnt. Point is stop drinking the kool aid it's about 2 b rough 4 awhile.

SEC1 writes:

Smart man!!!

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to SEC1:

Smart man!!!

And you're stupid. Any questions?

TNvalleyVOL writes:

in response to VolGrad:

It you some issues have for there ain't but none to understand what for you saying all this about. And what the MAC-PAC-SunBelt-WAC you give the dog a cadillac and go all Jimmie crack corn and you don't care about that?

Man, it is tough to write like that. How do you do it?

you elevated Denver grade text phone literacy to a high art form!

TNvalleyVOL writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

I'm doin all this on a phone grammar police. Point is stop drinking the kool aid te same jerks on here posting how great Dooley is and he doin the right thing keppin traditions bla bla. Will be the same people callin in the radio show questioning him and wanting him fired after the Oregon game. When ky ends the streak this yr there will be mattresses burnt. Point is stop drinking the kool aid it's about 2 b rough 4 awhile.

dude i salute you as a drivin-while-texting vol-man, I just hope you don't get pulled over....we need you back on here soon...love the burning mattress image...hahaha...now hang up and drive

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

in response to SEC1:

Smart man!!!

Yes he is. I'm sure he's a Florida U English professor. Swamp Scum. GO VOLS!

CroKev writes:

in response to VolGrad:

It you some issues have for there ain't but none to understand what for you saying all this about. And what the MAC-PAC-SunBelt-WAC you give the dog a cadillac and go all Jimmie crack corn and you don't care about that?

Man, it is tough to write like that. How do you do it?

Man, that was pretty funny!

bigvol662004 writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

It's bout 2 b a real long yr. Simms is horrible, prolly start a freshman qb and no o line. All u orange kool aid drinkers thinking 8 wins put the kool aid down asap. Before 1 of u jerks say u bashin the vols u ain't no real vol fan I'm just keepin it real. They looked horrible Saturday except for a few bright spots Jackson, williams and a few others. We looking for a center we hurting end of story. Then Derek Dooley this jerk a middle of the pack WAC coach good grief, it's bout to b a long yr.

You're using a PHONE to post that drivel? Why not step up to a laptop and post "like a man" rather than someone who has more phone than MOST ANYONE would ever need? Granted, things will be tough, but say it like you have a pair, rather than a high school sophomore texting his girlfriend!

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

in response to bigvol662004:

You're using a PHONE to post that drivel? Why not step up to a laptop and post "like a man" rather than someone who has more phone than MOST ANYONE would ever need? Granted, things will be tough, but say it like you have a pair, rather than a high school sophomore texting his girlfriend!

OUCH!

99gator writes:

folks, this article starts by basically implying that the snap from center is an adventure.

i don't know what other clues need to be given to shine a light as to what the season is going to be like.

grab a bottle of something strong and a thick bible.

Carlitovol writes:

in response to 99gator:

folks, this article starts by basically implying that the snap from center is an adventure.

i don't know what other clues need to be given to shine a light as to what the season is going to be like.

grab a bottle of something strong and a thick bible.

99, your point is taken. HOWEVER, I was at the game on Saturday and didn't see ONE fumbled (or mishandled) exchange from Center to QB - and that is pretty impressive considering our O line was split between the 2 teams.

I believe there was a false start or 2, but that's to be expected even for the most veteran group.

Look, I don't think we're going to win a lot of games in 2010 - but I think we've got the talent/bodies to be able to at least have a serviceable line.

Do you realize we had 2 undersized walk-ons (Sullins bros) playing on the line last year? And they performed better than anyone thought they would.

With the front-loaded schedule we have, it's going to be brutal early no doubt. But (barring injuries), as the experience and chemistry are forged throughout the year, I think we'll be OK. Not great, but OK.

GBO!

VOLsince68 writes:

in response to TNvalleyVOL:

well u aint no reel fan cuz a reel fan would never mbaras his univ wit a post lik dat...am jus keepn it reel

Now that's funny.......

It's hard to take anything serious from someone that can't spell 4 letter words......

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to 99gator:

folks, this article starts by basically implying that the snap from center is an adventure.

i don't know what other clues need to be given to shine a light as to what the season is going to be like.

grab a bottle of something strong and a thick bible.

No doubt it’s going to be a tough year, but knowing the personnel and coaches we currently have, and the optimism that we’ll continue to recruit individuals who will fit well within the system, I’m positive things will get back on track.

However, this upcoming season I will be sure to have a 5th of Jack by me at all times! :-)

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

I am glad to see Cody in the hunt for a position, he has been looked at for lots of positions while at UT. CP it is time to get nasty and leave the Cali Bro thing on the sidelines. The only downer is that he is not snapping to his his good friend Nick Stephens.

richvol writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

I'm doin all this on a phone grammar police. Point is stop drinking the kool aid te same jerks on here posting how great Dooley is and he doin the right thing keppin traditions bla bla. Will be the same people callin in the radio show questioning him and wanting him fired after the Oregon game. When ky ends the streak this yr there will be mattresses burnt. Point is stop drinking the kool aid it's about 2 b rough 4 awhile.

The problems with this team started years ago with Fulmer. Dooley cannot be expected to fix them in 4 months and a lack of enough players. Don't be a fool or an impatient little child.

tnaseevol writes:

Hey all you grammar police! I hope you are raggin' on this poster in fun. Most of you are not too fluent in English. Some examples: the use of there for they're or their, the use of your for you're. Using threw for through. So before you throw stones check what you have written.
Are you so out of touch that you cannot read texting? Also twitter only allows 140 characters so one tweeting has to use short cuts.
Get with the program, and unless you majored in English, keep your smart@ss remarks to yourself. If making a few grammatical errors is the only wrong thing one does, one is in really good shape!
As I said, unless it's in fun, and the poster knows this; it's really uncalled for!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to tnaseevol:

Hey all you grammar police! I hope you are raggin' on this poster in fun. Most of you are not too fluent in English. Some examples: the use of there for they're or their, the use of your for you're. Using threw for through. So before you throw stones check what you have written.
Are you so out of touch that you cannot read texting? Also twitter only allows 140 characters so one tweeting has to use short cuts.
Get with the program, and unless you majored in English, keep your smart@ss remarks to yourself. If making a few grammatical errors is the only wrong thing one does, one is in really good shape!
As I said, unless it's in fun, and the poster knows this; it's really uncalled for!

You know, typically I stay out of the grammar arguments on blogs, however there’s a difference between making a couple of minor grammatical errors vs. writing so poorly that your message is dangerously close to incoherent.

tnaseevol writes:

in response to FearTheVols1252:

You know, typically I stay out of the grammar arguments on blogs, however there’s a difference between making a couple of minor grammatical errors vs. writing so poorly that your message is dangerously close to incoherent.

I don't think I've ever called anyone out on their spelling and grammar. I know I or anyone else would not call someone out on how they spoke or mangled the English language in a conversation. That would be the height on rudeness and crudeness. Why hide behind a keyboard and do it, just because you are hidden gives no one the right to be so crass as to call someone out on their posting, correct spelling, grammar or whatever! I can see that if someone does this in public, then I would have to excuse that person as an ignoramus who has never been taught manners, or just has no class; but I am almost sure that person would not do that in conversation. So that begs the question: why do they do it on posting. Does it make that person feel superior to be condenscending to another? Have we lost all courtesy and good manners?

tnaseevol writes:

in response to TNvalleyVOL:

well u aint no reel fan cuz a reel fan would never mbaras his univ wit a post lik dat...am jus keepn it reel

I hate to say this, but here goes:
I'm not from TN, but live here about 5-6 months out of the year.
Looking at this spelling does seem bad, but people, most of you talk like this in E TN. Most do not realize they speak this way, because most others speak the same. But to someone who does not live in this area all the time can really tell the difference! But the colloquism of E TN is very unique!
And it only takes me a few days to get back to understanding this speak-ese.
I know the man is tweeting, so it's not like he speaks this way......but I believe he does not live in TN.

voloffaith writes:

Interesting that no one called out an early poster for calling Coach Dooley "a jerk from the WAC." I suggested removal ,but I guess being defamatory was OK in this instance... On TOPIC, line will be decent. A poster said in O & W game line looked good. Yes, but no blitzes etc. QB in green jersey's knowing no big hits. Oh yes lineman knowing if they blow an assignment they will hear about ,but Qb getting blindsided would not happen also plays into it .

volfan53 writes:

in response to Denvervol4life:

I'm doin all this on a phone grammar police. Point is stop drinking the kool aid te same jerks on here posting how great Dooley is and he doin the right thing keppin traditions bla bla. Will be the same people callin in the radio show questioning him and wanting him fired after the Oregon game. When ky ends the streak this yr there will be mattresses burnt. Point is stop drinking the kool aid it's about 2 b rough 4 awhile.

I didn't know using a phone to write a post makes you all of a sudden stupid. I use my phone to send lots of messages and I can still spell and speak as if I went past the 5th grade. You sound just like the other idiots who think a coach should come in and win right away. If you don't give a coach at least 4 years to get the program on track with the kind of players he wants then you don't know football. Period. Get off coach DD's back. He has forgotten more about football then you will ever know.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to 99gator:

folks, this article starts by basically implying that the snap from center is an adventure.

i don't know what other clues need to be given to shine a light as to what the season is going to be like.

grab a bottle of something strong and a thick bible.

I know! You are right. I mean I love the Vols and stuff, but they shouldn't even play the games this year. The words of a Gay-tur fan and what he thinks matters in the Grand Scheme of things and I humbly bow before thy words! Like the 50+ azz-whupping EVERYONE promised last year UT shouldn't even show up!!!!!!!!

vols2#227315 writes:

Simms need to transfer, he is not a good SEC quarterback. Bray is the quarterback.

volfan53 writes:

in response to tnaseevol:

I don't think I've ever called anyone out on their spelling and grammar. I know I or anyone else would not call someone out on how they spoke or mangled the English language in a conversation. That would be the height on rudeness and crudeness. Why hide behind a keyboard and do it, just because you are hidden gives no one the right to be so crass as to call someone out on their posting, correct spelling, grammar or whatever! I can see that if someone does this in public, then I would have to excuse that person as an ignoramus who has never been taught manners, or just has no class; but I am almost sure that person would not do that in conversation. So that begs the question: why do they do it on posting. Does it make that person feel superior to be condenscending to another? Have we lost all courtesy and good manners?

For someone who thinks it is wrong to point out that a post needs to be at least written well enough to be able to understand it and then accuse the ones of doing it of hiding behind their keyboards I have one question. Why don't you post your name and address or do you need to hide behind your keyboard? Most people mentioned his spelling and grammar because he said some stupid things and made a really stupid remark about the coach.

You on the other hand just make stupid remarks. Go hide behind your keyboard and act superior. You are really good at it but, you still don't know what you are talking about.

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