WR coach Darin Hinshaw: Everybody needs to contribute
Darin Hinshaw has just as many years of experience coaching wide receivers on his resume as he does coaching quarterbacks.
Needless to say, there are more dramatic changes happening within the Tennessee football program than the one Hinshaw is currently experiencing.
Hinshaw has passed his title of quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and is taking over for the departed Charlie Baggett as the Vols' wide receivers coach. He's literally putting himself on the opposite end of the pass-catch connection, but he won't need to cover much distance to get up to pace with the personnel he'll be supervising.
"I've coached every skill position there is on offense," Hinshaw, who did his time as a running backs coach during a five-year stint at Middle Tennessee 2001-05, said Wednesday during a media opportunity for assistant coaches.
"That's the background everyone comes through. I've coached a lot of good ones. I've been blessed."
In his first year at Memphis, where he served as a wide receivers coach under Tommy West 2007-09, Hinshaw led a unit that had three players notch more than 600 yards receiving.
In his final season, he saw Duke Calhoun finish with 68 catches for 923 yards and Carlos Singleton chip in with 507 yards, but no other receiver finished with more than 241.
Hinshaw's plan with UT's receiving corps is to recreate his successful first year with the Tigers and forget about a 2011 season that was more like his final year at Memphis.
"Everybody's got to contribute, everybody's got to have a role," Hinshaw said. "We've got to be in a position where everybody can produce also."
Justin Hunter's season-ending knee injury shook up an already-thin receiving corps just three games into the 2011 season, and the Vols never adjusted. Da'Rick Rogers finished with some of the best numbers in UT history (67 catches, 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns), but the rest of the group was unreliable.
That will have to change in 2012, Hinshaw said. Additional depth provided by five-star junior-college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson and three other incoming freshman receivers makes that seem like a realistic possibility.
"They've got to learn to continue to get better and more accountable and be able to be ready to go play," Hinshaw said. "That's why the depth at wide receiver is going to be so big for us."
The relationship Hinshaw has built with starting quarterback Tyler Bray and backups Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman, both of whom he had a major hand with their respective recruitments, won't go to waste. Chaney joked that every time Bray throws an interception, "it will be Hinshaw's fault."
"Darin has a great background in that, and he'll work a lot with me when I need help with that, no question about it," Chaney said. "He'll be involved with the quarterbacks still."
Progress Report: Hunter, who is five months removed from tearing an anterior cruciate ligament, likely won't be cleared for any kind of contact this spring, but will be able to run routes and participate in most non-contact activities, Hinshaw said.
"We'll incorporate him into a little bit more of the cutting and all those kinds of things as we go through spring," Hinshaw said. "Hopefully by the end of spring, he'll be able to do everything on air that he does at wide receiver. We're not going to put him in any position where he's going to have any contact or could tweak that knee."
Hunter's strength levels are up and he has implemented more running, leaping and bounding into his workouts, Hinshaw said.
"We're real pleased with where he's at right now," Hinshaw said.
Kick Flipped: New tight ends/special teams coach Charlie Coiner has talked enough with Derek Dooley to get a feeling for how seriously the coach is about special teams, but he's yet to discover just how much he'll be working with UT's punters and kickers.
Coiner worked heavily with punters and kickers during his two seasons as a special teams assistant with the Chicago Bears. He also had a heavy hand in the development of kicker David Akers, a long-established NFL veteran, at Louisville and had complete control of the unit at LSU in 1999.
"I guarantee you that just from what I've seen, and I'm talking about the detail of the plans whether it be spring or whether it be fall, Coach Dooley is a very detailed guy," Coiner said. "There will be somebody coaching them at all times."
Kicker Michael Palardy and punter Matt Darr each had their fair share of struggles in 2011. West High's George Bullock is expected to provide competition to both players when he enrolls this summer.
"I don't know what our structure will be," Coiner said. "As far as our day-to-day, off-field things, I'm keeping up with them."
Secondary Matters: Terry Joseph said he'll be learning just as much from new defensive assistant Derrick Ansley as the 31-year-old Ansley will be learning from him.
Joseph, UT's defensive backs coach for the past two seasons, will work specifically with the safeties in 2012 while Ansley will handle the cornerbacks.
The Vols' anticipated implementation of more multiple packages on defense will be somewhat new to Joseph, but for Ansley, a graduate assistant at Alabama alongside new UT defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri for the past two seasons, it will be more of the same.
"He knows the terminology, he knows the adjustments on defense, it's going to help the learning curve with all the back end in general," Joseph said. "We just felt like that was the best move going into probably our biggest spring since we've been here."