Tennessee center James Stone has left snapping problems in the past

Vols center has left snapping woes in the past

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) looks for a receiver with blocking from linesman James Stone (64) during first half action against Akron Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) looks for a receiver with blocking from linesman James Stone (64) during first half action against Akron Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Dooley on Tennessee's pass-rush and Wildcat formation

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The snap from James Stone sailed over Tyler Bray's head, bounced on the turf and started to roll.

Tennessee recovered the football, but the 15-yard loss helped extinguish the Vols' momentum in their game against Georgia one year ago. Tennessee was forced to punt from deep in its own territory, the Bulldogs quickly answered with a touchdown and a game that had been close started to get away.

The Vols lost that game, 20-12. Soon after, Stone lost his job.

A year later, Stone is back at center, and his season of snapping miscues — too high, too low, with left hand and right — seems a distant memory.

The Vols (3-1, 0-1 SEC) play No. 5 Georgia (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday (TV: 3:30 p.m., WVLT) at Sanford Stadium.

Stone's path back to the starting job — and flawless snapping — seemed unlikely only a few months ago.

Stone and Alex Bullard shared the center job for the rest of 2011, but coaches decided to hand the job to Bullard permanently in the spring.

But Bullard missed time this summer due to personal issues and coaches began to reconsider Stone's role on the line.

So he grabbed a ball and started snapping, spending extra time with Bray and regaining lost confidence in the most essential job of a center — transferring the ball to the quarterback.

By the time camp began in August, the job was Stone's to lose. He seized it.

Peppered with questions about his snapping technique all summer, Stone hasn't had to endure any questions once the games started because there have been no problems to analyze. The center-to-quarterback transfer, whether shotgun or under center, has been perfect.

"I'm a lot more comfortable now," Stone said. "I've been doing it all through the offseason and through four games this season."

The junior from Nashville's Maplewood High School might have searched for wood to knock on, had it been available. Instead he just added, "It's something you can't take for granted. But it's really good that we haven't had any mishaps with it."

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he's been pleased with Stone's progress.

"He's been good. He's been a real steady hand for us in there," Dooley said. "But he has a heck of a challenge this week."

The challenge comes from 358-pound senior nose guard John Jenkins, who came to Georgia last year after a stint at junior college.

After a slow start, Jenkins has emerged as one of the Bulldogs' most valuable defensive players and a potential early NFL draft pick in April.

"That sucker is a pretty good nose guard, and he is big," Dooley said.

Last year, Tennessee caught the Bulldogs as they were recovering from an 0-2 start. This year, the Bulldogs have hit their stride early and are overwhelming favorites to win on Saturday.

"I feel like we're a different team and they're a different team," Stone said. "We feel like we can go head-to-head with anybody in the league. I'm not really thinking about last year. We just want to remember the mistakes we made and not repeat them."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 11

FEARinSEC writes:

Go Vols!!! Beat JawJa!!!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Hope he didn't just jinx him

CroKev writes:

It's a snap...

I think the Vols are going to be very fortunate to win one of the next four but I do believe one of the big 3 (UGA, Bama, USC) is going to come down to the wire.

Classof72 writes:

Stone said, "We feel like we can go head-to-head with anybody in the league...."

Hold on to that feeling.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

We can win 'em all.

SouthPaVol writes:

You failed to mention the "reason" for Stone's fumbles last year: dumb, stupid, and ignorant coaching. They made Stone, a natural lefty, snap the shotgun right handed. The coaches backed Bray who said it's awkward catching the ball since it's spinning backward and forced Stone to snap the ball with his off hand. The better move would have been to tell Bray to get used to the awkward spin, since Stone has been snapping lefty all his life. This year, Stone snaps the shotgun lefty and under-center with the right hand, which seems to work for both center and QB.

My left-handed comment: If we recruit a left-handed center, left the boy snap lefty. Go Vols!

theoldbear writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

You failed to mention the "reason" for Stone's fumbles last year: dumb, stupid, and ignorant coaching. They made Stone, a natural lefty, snap the shotgun right handed. The coaches backed Bray who said it's awkward catching the ball since it's spinning backward and forced Stone to snap the ball with his off hand. The better move would have been to tell Bray to get used to the awkward spin, since Stone has been snapping lefty all his life. This year, Stone snaps the shotgun lefty and under-center with the right hand, which seems to work for both center and QB.

My left-handed comment: If we recruit a left-handed center, left the boy snap lefty. Go Vols!

As a former left-handed center, I made exactly the same comment last year. Yes, the ball comes out different. No, it isn't "wrong". Getting the ball to the qb, punter, holder quickly and accurately is an art, a science, a craft, a gift. And I don't think we've had a bad snap all year. Oh no, I just jinxed us!

WoodshedVol writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

You failed to mention the "reason" for Stone's fumbles last year: dumb, stupid, and ignorant coaching. They made Stone, a natural lefty, snap the shotgun right handed. The coaches backed Bray who said it's awkward catching the ball since it's spinning backward and forced Stone to snap the ball with his off hand. The better move would have been to tell Bray to get used to the awkward spin, since Stone has been snapping lefty all his life. This year, Stone snaps the shotgun lefty and under-center with the right hand, which seems to work for both center and QB.

My left-handed comment: If we recruit a left-handed center, left the boy snap lefty. Go Vols!

I could not believe they made him snap with his weaker hand. You said it best.

Vol86 writes:

I have mentioned before that our kicking woes might be due to having left handed kickers. We get used to certain ways things happen since 6 years old playing on the play ground. Coaches really need to consider everything.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

You failed to mention the "reason" for Stone's fumbles last year: dumb, stupid, and ignorant coaching. They made Stone, a natural lefty, snap the shotgun right handed. The coaches backed Bray who said it's awkward catching the ball since it's spinning backward and forced Stone to snap the ball with his off hand. The better move would have been to tell Bray to get used to the awkward spin, since Stone has been snapping lefty all his life. This year, Stone snaps the shotgun lefty and under-center with the right hand, which seems to work for both center and QB.

My left-handed comment: If we recruit a left-handed center, left the boy snap lefty. Go Vols!

Stone was never a Center in high school jughead, he was a Tackle.

When Stone got to UT we were so short of O linemen that we could barely put a O line on the field and backup depth was hardly existant.

CDD had hardly any options and since Stone is very strong and extremely smart CDD made the best decision he could to put the best O line available on the field so he started training Stone to be a center.

Ar first Stone snapped everything left handed but Bray whined and cried so Stone was told to start working on snapping with his right hand to pacify Bray.

Stone did pretty well until 1 game where alot of mistakes happened.

Bray had to learn to take snaps in the shotgun from Stone snapping left handed which is really no big deal.

Under center the laces face differently when snapped left handed so since the D can get to the QB alot faster when he's under center Stone snaps right handed so Bray gets the laces facing the right direction and can throw a pass quicker.

Don't make ignorant comments until you actually do learn something about football jughead.

VFL...GBO!!!

arkansasvol1975 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

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