Vols developing an 'appreciation for physicality' in run game

Sal Sunseri on family ties to Alabama

Tennessee has apparently made the mental adjustments necessary to run the ball better.

The results just show up physically.

If spring practice ended without another practice or Saturday's Orange and White Game to officially wrap up camp, Jim Chaney could still go into the offseason pleased with the progress of his rushing attack. And the evidence is piling up on the film the Vols offensive coordinator has been watching through the 13th workout on a rainy morning that kept the team inside on Wednesday.

"More physicality, an appreciation for physicality," Chaney said. "It's more of an attitude and a demeanor, that they understand that to run the ball we've got to hit people. I feel like we've accomplished that.

"Like you measure everything else, (it's on) our video. Are we hitting people, do we have a desire to hit people? Same damn thing you're looking for on Saturdays. Does somebody look like they want to hit somebody? You know, that's it in a nutshell. Everybody sees a guy that pulls away from contact. We're trying to avoid that, trying not to put those guys on the field."

It has certainly helped that the Vols seem to have more guys to choose from this spring, particularly on the offensive line where competition for first-team reps has been heated as the program sifts through a group that includes about nine options for playing time.

UT also has had a battle for work in the backfield that appears to include at least three viable contenders, including sophomore Devrin Young who has been challenged to use his undersized frame both as a rusher and as a blocker as part of that emphasis on embracing contact.

"I think you have to be conscious of any back who has to block a 260-pound end," Chaney said. "You know, in certain protections you're going to be concerned about that. But for the most part this spring, we haven't done anything that way. We just put them out there and let them play, and if they get stuck in a protection having to block a 260-pounder, so be it. Grow up, be a man. He's had to do that on several occasions, and we've been pleased with how he's performed.

"He has a lot of physical abilities and a lot of skill level and it's fun to watch him grow and mature and understand a little bit more."

For more on the media session for the assistants and Wednesday's practice, check back to http://www.govolsxtra.com, pick up Thursday's News Sentinel or follow@Vols_Beat on Twitter.

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Comments » 10

kcbigorngX writes:

Why would anyone with an aversion to contact want to play football? The freedom to hit someone (legaly) was the main attraction to me.

Playing middle linebacker and fullback, the few times I was actually handed the ball it always ended the same....coaches screaming at me to run for 'daylight'...I can still remember one of 'em in my face: "You don't have to try to run over EVERYBODY!!!" lol

Jugfish writes:

I like the attitude.

IndyVolFan writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're going to struggle offensively playing freshmen and sophomores against juniors and seniors...especially in the SEC. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out, but some on here act like they've never watched SEC football or forgotten what they did watch. The one thing in common with all great UT teams was a big, nasty, and UPPERCLASSMEN line.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Devein Young.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

"It's more of an attitude and a demeanor, that they understand that to run the ball we've got to hit people. I feel like we've accomplished that."

That's awesome Coach Chaney! I know some people might pick apart this statement and say, "Wow, that's just a bunch of non-sensical drivel and what the coach is avoiding saying is that our running backs are mediocre at best," or "Great, now they're mentally to the point where every SEC defense has been for the last five years," or "Didn't last seasons repeated tackles behind the line of scrimmage teach them that football is a physical game?"

Not me! I think it's awesome that we've finally convinced our running backs that getting hit and being physical is part of the game! SEC championship here we come!

Just like G.I. Joe says: "Demeanor is half the battle."

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Most kids coming into the SEC are actually stunned at first at how fast and physical the SEC really is and it takes time for them to get their bodies ready and to adopt the mental mindset and attitude that to become a really good SEC player they have to work longer, work harder, get stronger, tougher and really put the HIT to people and knock the other teams on their butts HARD and to consistently do it every play of every game to Win the SEC East or a SEC Championship or beyond.

Get ready boys and this season simply POUND em down to the ground every snap of the ball.


Tennfan4075 writes:

The Vols look tough against their teammates and the UT Martins of the world, but will this physicality hold up against the teams with SEC level athletes. I hope so but have my doubts.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think it was a simple matter of bodies: the more able bodies, the more competition for playing time, the more the coach can demand excellence and punish laziness or lack of execution. With [at least] nine guys capable of starting, we now have an SEC-level 2-deep rotation which allows more physical play as we can substitute freely and absorb injuries better. We all knew that Dooley took over a program with depleted talent. He's to the point on offense where that excuse is no longer viable. If Chaney and company don't finish in the Top 3 in total offense this year, there should be changes whether Dooley stays or not. And a big part of that offense will have to be a solid run game. Not necessarily stellar, but solid. If we are [again] no threat to run and can't push through on short yardage, then we are doomed, Bray and company notwithstanding. Here's hoping Chaney's newfound plethora of SEC caliber offensive linemen pays off in the fall. Go Vols!!!

KingDanno (Inactive) writes:

Bout Time! If we can run smashmouth, Bray will have some killer opportunities to go deep! GBO!

volcraze writes:

I am not worried about the Vols this year. This was a very young team last year. I have faith that this year we will see a huge improvement, especially in the running game.

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