'Test of maturity' coming on how UT football players used their spring break

Emphasis on back end of spring practice

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones talks with  his offensive linemen during spring NCAA college football practice at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, March 16, 2013. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones talks with his offensive linemen during spring NCAA college football practice at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, March 16, 2013. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)

The cruises and beach trips are finished. Campus is open and classes are back in session.

Tennessee football players who enjoyed too much fun and sun over the last week could face a difficult test on their first day back.

The Vols return to the practice fields this morning after a 10-day spring break that came in the middle of Butch Jones’ first spring practice with UT.

“It’s going to be a test of the maturity of our football team,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek before the players left. “If they go on spring break and they continue to work out and train and make that a priority for them, then we know we’ve got something to be excited about. If not, then we’ve got to continue to educate them.”

Tennessee has six practices in the books. Nine sessions, including the Orange and White Game on April 20.

Jones has put an emphasis on the back end of the spring practice schedule. The first two practices weren’t in full pads, and much of the first week was an acclimation process for new players.

In the second part of Jones’ first spring in Knoxville, there will be plenty of time for hitting, scrimmaging and evaluating players.

“For us to take strides this year with this football team we have to be a much more physical football team, both mentally and physically, and you have to live that way every day,” Jones said. “We aren’t anywhere we need to be to compete in the SEC, but we’re making strides.”

What will coaches be watching for in the next three weeks?

The quarterback race will attract the most attention, but there are position battles going on at just about every spot except perhaps offensive line — where there is an experienced group of returning starters — and

running back — where there appear to be few options beyond Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane.

Beyond that, when coaches say no one’s job is safe, that’s not just lip service.

Alarmed by a lack of speed, poor fundamentals and overall confusion in last year’s defense, Jancek and Jones have started building the new defense block by block. Moving veteran safety Brent Brewer to linebacker helped a bit in the speed, but the back seven is still much slower than the new staff would prefer.

On offense, the conventional wisdom is that junior Justin Worley may have a slight edge on redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman early in their competition, if only because Worley has done a better job of limiting turnovers. But it would be surprising if coaches name a final No. 1 before August.

The receivers race will benefit from an influx of bodies this summer, but until then, coaches are pushing the young group of challengers hard. We’ll find out today if freshman Paul Harris has earned back the No. 1 jersey that was stripped from him before the break.

Tennessee’s practices go at a breakneck pace, and the receivers might do more running than any other unit.

“If you don’t (work),” receivers coach Zach Azzanni said last week, “we’ll be able to tell.”

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

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Comments » 33

DavidWebb writes:

I believe Brent Brewer was moved to linebacker, not Byron Moore.

ewoodbery writes:

You are correct. Good catch. It has been fixed and the update should go through shortly.
Thanks, Evan

DavidWebb writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

You are correct. Good catch. It has been fixed and the update should go through shortly.
Thanks, Evan

No problem

rockypop writes:

God help the "student athletes" who dared have fun during the Spring break. After all, football players really aren't "students" as much as they are "athletes." What if their academic professors demanded as much of them as their "athletic professors?"

SeaBassHauling writes:

I thought it was Brent Brewer that moved to lb.?

OTPVol writes:

Commitment demands sacrifice.

rb4346 writes:

in response to rockypop:

God help the "student athletes" who dared have fun during the Spring break. After all, football players really aren't "students" as much as they are "athletes." What if their academic professors demanded as much of them as their "athletic professors?"

I feel like this is part of CBJ's overall plan, the dedicated players will come back looking like there has been no spring break. There was plenty of time for the players to work out and have fun time IMO. To get the program back to where it was will take dedication.

nocleats writes:

"but the back seven is still much slower than the new staff would prefer"
There IS the problem... You cant teach speed, you have to recruit it. I would say the coaches were SHOCKED at the lack of speed would be more accurate. Schemes cant fix that problem, neither can technique or heart.It is going to take time, solid recruiting and some luck.

DukeDeLuca2 writes:

Who's our coach this week? I lose track.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca2:

Who's our coach this week? I lose track.

Not to worry, we would like to forget how many negative posts
And screen names you have

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Here's a new writer term "the back seven is still much slower than the new staff would prefer".

I've heard of the back 40 (acres), I guess this is the linebackers and Def backs 3+4=7.

I would have written "The Entire Defense is slow with bad fundamentals and even the fat boys up front are afraid to take a hit for the VOLS"

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

Nocleats, part of your statement is not all true. You can't teach speed. In fact you can teach speed or help a kid get faster. The workouts that need to be done have to focus on that aspect. Foot strike, leg power and body mechanics will help a players develop needed speed. Some athletes just weren't taught the proper techniques in middle school or high school for that matter. They may seem fast then because they are running against slower kids in those divisions. Theres plenty of articles and documented cases that you can improve speed. We can do it, it just doesn't happen over night. I'm glad your comment wasn't negative though, we have enough trolls that will come on here and read your comment and feed off of it. GBO Is it football time in Tennessee yet.

6972 writes:

Coach Jancek and Coach Jones, we share your concern about the defensive problems we had last year. We lived through the pain of it all. We are hoping that you can fix some of that.

Nighthawk writes:

Lack of speed was our undoing the past 3 years. Year 0 and 1(Dooley's count)we played our DBs off the line and everybody completed passes underneath, then ran by us.

Last year in the "more aggressive defense"(Dooley's description), the Dbs played at the line and the wideouts blew by us and completed passes.

Lack of speed...yuh think, last year they couldn't catch a cold.

I believe CBJ and staff will improve our DBs in technique, quickness and speed. GBO

askjeff writes:

You can't question the maturity of Marlon Walls and Byron Moore. They visited Katelyn at the hospital in her dying days and it evidently made a huge impact. Walls then took some of his teammates to a walkathon in Campbell County after the little girl had passed. I will always hold these guys in high regard for these acts of kindness.

UTvols33 writes:

Did any players get arrested over spring break?

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to Nighthawk:

Lack of speed was our undoing the past 3 years. Year 0 and 1(Dooley's count)we played our DBs off the line and everybody completed passes underneath, then ran by us.

Last year in the "more aggressive defense"(Dooley's description), the Dbs played at the line and the wideouts blew by us and completed passes.

Lack of speed...yuh think, last year they couldn't catch a cold.

I believe CBJ and staff will improve our DBs in technique, quickness and speed. GBO

I hope so.

I find it difficult to believe the issue was talent (speed) but that the guys were always out of postion, clueless on what to do, and fearful of doing things wrong.

At least, let me think that.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

when making tackles show up with a very very bad attitude

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca2:

Who's our coach this week? I lose track.

the almighty Walmart window licker has spoken

62vol writes:

in response to rb4346:

I feel like this is part of CBJ's overall plan, the dedicated players will come back looking like there has been no spring break. There was plenty of time for the players to work out and have fun time IMO. To get the program back to where it was will take dedication.

I think we all understand the message that they are sending. Staying in shape is a basic fundamental of football that is taught starting around 9th grade. It is how the staff is wording it that makes it sound more like a threat than good sound coaching psychology.
Maybe something like this would work.

"Guys, go have fun and come back ready to pick up where we left off."

CoverOrange writes:

in response to UTvols33:

Did any players get arrested over spring break?

Only your development.

VolzsFan writes:

I for one am really enjoying the change. Retro back to pre 1990 UT football. So nice. Thanks Hammy!!! You da man.

hikerdude writes:

Our defense will be much improved, even if we start nothing but walk-ons. Dooley and Sunseri were clueless about defensive schemes. Kids were constanly put in bad positions.

tovolny writes:

in response to rockypop:

God help the "student athletes" who dared have fun during the Spring break. After all, football players really aren't "students" as much as they are "athletes." What if their academic professors demanded as much of them as their "athletic professors?"

Get up on that stump and point some fingers. Tell Butch Jones and his staff they should not be expecting the guys to train and keep in shape over the break. C'MON MAN! They can have fun without wreaking their bodies. The message I got from the assistant coaches was a request for moderation, and a request for the guys to keep up their conditioning. I did not see or interpret a message warning them not to have a good time. Yes, stay away from drugs and alcohol ("no brainer here")...but a simple request for them to stay healthy and in shape is expected. Most likely we both have the same opinion, but just looked at the news a little differently. Anyway, GO BIG ORANGE...I bet we both agree on that.

bUTch_please writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Only your development.

Burn cream, aisle 3.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca2:

Who's our coach this week? I lose track.

I bet you forget a lot of things. Of course, the list of things you never knew in the first place is very long.

UTvols33 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Only your development.

I was really asking, I wasn't trying to make a joke. I'm not one of these trolls from other schools. You can't say that we don't have a history of players getting into trouble. It was a "test of maturity" as they said and I'm just trying to see if they passed. Don't be so quick to judge, you can look at my history of posts and see that I'm a Vol fan.

UTvols33 writes:

in response to bUTch_please:

Burn cream, aisle 3.

You failed the test of maturity.

rb4346 writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

Here's a new writer term "the back seven is still much slower than the new staff would prefer".

I've heard of the back 40 (acres), I guess this is the linebackers and Def backs 3+4=7.

I would have written "The Entire Defense is slow with bad fundamentals and even the fat boys up front are afraid to take a hit for the VOLS"

I would agree with you that the defense is not as quick as CBJ would prefer but the time is coming. You might go up to one of the lineman (you call them fat boys) and spew your garbage, then see if they will take a hit for the Vols. I would bet that you would take a hit and also become a permanent part of Henley Street Bridge. Grow up you d@m TROLL!

bUTch_please writes:

in response to UTvols33:

You failed the test of maturity.

Seriously? You ask that question? On a KNS page?

Did you see any mug shots? Ongoing pictures of a black charger in an impound lot for 6 days running? Cynical columns about rebuilding?

Any of our guys toss a beer bottle, moon a chick, punch out a Hyundai and it's a three inch headline for a week!

Not to mention cheeseburgers taken by force, baby-blue Prius getaway cars and brawls.

Good grief Sparky, you ask that question, here, and not expect to get b!t(h slapped?

rb4346 writes:

in response to UTvols33:

Did any players get arrested over spring break?

Just Alabummer and Kentacky players.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

I for one am really enjoying the change. Retro back to pre 1990 UT football. So nice. Thanks Hammy!!! You da man.

What does Hammy have to do with CBJ?

CoverOrange writes:

in response to UTvols33:

I was really asking, I wasn't trying to make a joke. I'm not one of these trolls from other schools. You can't say that we don't have a history of players getting into trouble. It was a "test of maturity" as they said and I'm just trying to see if they passed. Don't be so quick to judge, you can look at my history of posts and see that I'm a Vol fan.

Sorry, it was an easy shot and I took it. Should have put jk at the end to show I was being lighthearted.

One thing about Jones and Dooley, the rate of perp walks have decidedly decreased since they came in.

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