In full-pads practice, Vols crank up intensity

Tennessee’s Eric Gordon, left, beats his man during a drill on the Vols’ first day of practice in pads at their indoor practice field on Thursday. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2013

Tennessee’s Eric Gordon, left, beats his man during a drill on the Vols’ first day of practice in pads at their indoor practice field on Thursday. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Evan Woodbery on the Vols' third practice of the spring

The first crack of the pads, and the first sign that Thursday’s practice might be a little different, came before it had even begun.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones gathered his team in a circle at the 50-yard line of the indoor practice facility and proceeded to shout his lungs out. The exact words were muffled by the shouts of the players, who engaged in some motivational shoving and then a few mid-circle one-on-one drills.

The practice itself contained plenty of one-on-one blocking drills, and score was kept. Coaches also unveiled a big stoplight. The lights represented the types of contact allowable — ranging from full tackling to “thud” tackles that don’t take a ball carrier to the ground to non-contact drills.

“I think we’re a poor tackling team right now,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek. “There are a lot of things we need to get cleaned up.”

***

Receivers coach Zach Azzanni said his young unit had a “long way to go” to handle the pace of Tennessee’s offense.

“It’s not a habit yet,” he said. “It’s not like brushing your teeth.”

The route-running skills in his current crop of receivers are “well below average,” he said. “There’s no foundation there ... There’s a lot of raw guys out there.”

The good news? He gets to mold them from scratch.

“They’re coming back for more. They’re living in my office. They’re living in the meeting room. They’re trying to get better, and I can appreciate that.”

Azzanni said running-back-turned-receiver Devrin Young had done well and was eager to learn.

“I had to kick him out of the office last night,” Azzanni joked. “I was ready to go home.”

***

Tennessee returns four of five starting offensive linemen, and although offensive line coach Don Mahoney has emphasized that no one is guaranteed a job, his group has some of the fewest questions on the roster.

But while coaches often focus only on the present, Mahoney admitted he thinks about 2014 “always.” That’s when Tennessee could have nearly 100 percent turnover on its starting line.

He sat down with second-teamers Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson, Alan Posey and Marques Pair and asked, “What kind of discussion are we going to have a year from now?”

The battle for those 2014 spots, Mahoney said, starts “now. The urgency has to be there.”

***

Mahoney said he believed many linemen were carrying unneeded extra weight when the new staff arrived. He said he wants offensive linemen to be “functional, powerful and violent.”

He cited Ja’Wuan James, who dropped from 337 pounds to 317.

“We don’t have to win with 337,” Mahoney said.

***

All of Tennessee’s 2012 seniors who are pursuing a pro football career and the four early entrants — quarterback Tyler Bray, receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and defensive linemen Darrington Sentimore — are expected to work out at the university’s pro day on Wednesday.

The session is closed to the public but will be open to the media.

Additionally, former players Da’Rick Rogers and Montori Hughes have been invited to attend.

Rogers, a wide receiver, was dismissed last August after what he acknowledged were multiple failed drug tests. He finished his career at Tennessee Tech.

Hughes, a defensive tackle, was dismissed after the 2010 season amid drug and academic problems, he said. He finished his career at UT-Martin.

***

Tennessee confirmed that recruiting assistant Keith Pantling has left the program. Pantling had served as director of recruiting operations under Butch Jones at Cincinnati.

When he came to Tennessee, Jones hired J.R. Sandlin to be director of recruiting. Sandlin spent the last three seasons at Alabama.

Pantling was scheduled to make $50,000 annually at Tennessee. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

***

Jason Carr, a defensive line signee from Memphis, watched Thursday’s practice ... In addition to linebacker Curt Maggitt (knee) and safety Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder), tight end Justin Meredith missed Thursday’s practice due to an undisclosed injury.

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

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Comments » 87

VolsUpsetYetAnother writes:

As much as I am looking forward to a fast paced offense; I am equally looking forward to a fast paced defense. Whip em in shape coaches!! Go Vols!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

I was watching the vid on the Tennessee drill the other day...
really disappointed that only one defensive player shed his block and smacked the runner.

These guys have a long ways to go to learn leverage and using the blockers "push" to guide the blocker out of the way.
Hell, it ain't easy...but let's hope by next fall we see some guys shedding blocks and thumping runners.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Thought for a team-building psychology ploy:
every player gets a "Jones cut". The deal is that no one can grow long hair until the team wins 9 or 10 games.

I remember Nebraska had a black-shirt defense, then a black-watch defense....sometimes stuff like that resonates with players.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

It's time to get busy. Work hard guys. The reward is worth it!

Fight on you Mighty Vols!

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I was watching the vid on the Tennessee drill the other day...
really disappointed that only one defensive player shed his block and smacked the runner.

These guys have a long ways to go to learn leverage and using the blockers "push" to guide the blocker out of the way.
Hell, it ain't easy...but let's hope by next fall we see some guys shedding blocks and thumping runners.

George Cafego gives comment from the grave. BEAT VANDY!!

Orange_Power_T writes:

Refreshing to see an honest appraisal of players skills. We never got that from CDD. "A lack of fundamentals- weak foundation" says it all. I am really starting to like CBJ!

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did someone pee in your O's Vegas? some validity in what he is saying....one must admit....it definately couldn't hurt anything.

Prostar writes:

How long have we been saying that UT needs to get much better on tackling skills and route-running? We have been a poor team on fundametals for a long time. I'm glad some coaches finally put it in print. Now, Fix it

6972 writes:

We need to thank DD and his staff for leaving us with a "lot of raw guys" who "have a long way to go" and with a "lot of things to be cleaned up". Not a lot of bang for the buck! Let's hope this staff can "git ur dun". At this point, I like the attitude of the team and coaches. Go Orange.

dragon18 writes:

Wow! Is it just me or does it feel like we actually have a group of coaches that "coach" football? I wasn't a Dooley hater, but in retrospect I have to wonder if the focus was in the right place. I love/hate comments like "we are a poor tackling team right now." Love it because it means it will be addressed finally. Hate it because.... well because we are a poor tackling team. Guys, I get more excited everyday with this group of COACHES!

BTW- That pic of CBJ is awesome! That is an intense individual and he looks like he would rather be in pads than coaching.

RockyTop1_old writes:

What a difference already! Identify (weakness), Solidify (strength), and Multiply (READINESS)....As I OFTEN last year,...JUST HIT SOMEBODY!!!!! I don't think THAT (HITTING)will be a problem this year!! GBO!!!

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

Did someone pee in your O's Vegas? some validity in what he is saying....one must admit....it definately couldn't hurt anything.

Right. What could it hurt? Only the long haired 5-star recruit who comes for a visit and finds out he has to get a crew cut. Also, what motivation are you giving the guys who prefer short hair?

"We're going to take away your individuality, and return it once you have been forced to conform to our ways".

No, I can't see a downside at all to this plan.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

Right. What could it hurt? Only the long haired 5-star recruit who comes for a visit and finds out he has to get a crew cut. Also, what motivation are you giving the guys who prefer short hair?

"We're going to take away your individuality, and return it once you have been forced to conform to our ways".

No, I can't see a downside at all to this plan.

@lizard
well, gee,let's see...he cares more about his hair than buying in to the team???

Maybe he's not a a five-star.

Then again, I was watching as UF nearly murdered their coach in this last bowl game....

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, the idea of a "shared experience" is tried and proven in virtually every team-building effort that's ever been.....

However, not too surprising that escapes you.

SummerfieldVol writes:

Looks like we have some coaches who know how to do their job, this is always a very good sign of things to come. #1 conditioning,#2 fundamentals,#3 self-esteem. Now it is just a matter of learning the plays,everyone on the same page and the same line. We will know how well the players have learned their positions come September. The proof is in the pudding.

Coach_K writes:

Intensity and heart win over skill almost always in the long run. I will take a less talented team that means it when they touch the "give your all for Tennessee today" sign. Diamonds aren't pretty when the come out of the ground, it takes a skilled craftsman to mold them into something every1 wants. Keep up the good work CBJ and staff! Is it a coincidence that life jackets are orange? We have been drowning to long....now it is time to #risetothetop!

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to dragon18:

Wow! Is it just me or does it feel like we actually have a group of coaches that "coach" football? I wasn't a Dooley hater, but in retrospect I have to wonder if the focus was in the right place. I love/hate comments like "we are a poor tackling team right now." Love it because it means it will be addressed finally. Hate it because.... well because we are a poor tackling team. Guys, I get more excited everyday with this group of COACHES!

BTW- That pic of CBJ is awesome! That is an intense individual and he looks like he would rather be in pads than coaching.

It's just you. These coaches and just as sophomoric as the last bunch.

suggest_removal_4_all_troll_posts writes:

“I think we’re a poor tackling team right now,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek.

Unless tucking the arms and lunging is good technique, I don't think we've every been a fundamentally good tackling team ever. Even in our glory days we had more talent than technique.

Need to get some wrestlers on the team.

Vol43 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

It's just you. These coaches and just as sophomoric as the last bunch.

11:12 am and gatorboy is on GV. That's funny. What do your fellow Gators think about you?

VolinCalif writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You may just have something there Knox.
Think about it for a minute. The instant weight lost could kick up the team speed average .005 in the 40. that should really help our Def.
But there is a reverse side the lost of weigh would hurt our Off. Oh well one can't have everything. So You call it.

dragon18 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

It's just you. These coaches and just as sophomoric as the last bunch.

Haha!!! you're an idiot! Thanks for the post though!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to suggest_removal_4_all_troll_posts:

“I think we’re a poor tackling team right now,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek.

Unless tucking the arms and lunging is good technique, I don't think we've every been a fundamentally good tackling team ever. Even in our glory days we had more talent than technique.

Need to get some wrestlers on the team.

A lot of tenn's tackling problems in the past came from trying to make the big hit that got all the crowd noise.

The interesting thing: the really good teams, and the NFL, would rather you stand a runner up when possible to gang tackle and strip the ball.

However, the crowd loves smackdowns, so the players play to the crowd at UT.

PUL4VOLS writes:

An intense head coach will filter into the other coaches and players. Then the results will be seen on the field. That will be obvious. Let's give it time and see how unraw Coach Jones and Co. can make this bunch left by the former coaches. I'm hoping we will like what we see though knowing it will take a year for us to see a big rise from the shadows. I am so ready for that to begin.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

On the flip side (in the tenn drill), the blockers maintained blocks similar to how Alabama does.

I used to be more for "block and release" to get to the next level of defenders, but in watching Bama, they lock down for a good 3-4 seconds prior to releasing a block. This let's the RB not only pick a hole but shift angles IN the hole.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

Right. What could it hurt? Only the long haired 5-star recruit who comes for a visit and finds out he has to get a crew cut. Also, what motivation are you giving the guys who prefer short hair?

"We're going to take away your individuality, and return it once you have been forced to conform to our ways".

No, I can't see a downside at all to this plan.

Never spent any time in the military, didja. Seek out a Seal or Ranger, or any military dude and ask him about team work and motivation techniques. Or maybe watching Stripes is more your speed.

Pompey writes:

...I have always thought that the Dooley story is a sad one. The man had so much going for him it was hard to see how he could have failed.
Jones on the other hand is dreaming that he has died and gone to heaven...it's now up to him to make that dream real.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Never spent any time in the military, didja. Seek out a Seal or Ranger, or any military dude and ask him about team work and motivation techniques. Or maybe watching Stripes is more your speed.

@cover
It's interesting to see who "gets it" and who does not.

Notice it's the blowhards and trolls who don't, the steady and serious who do.

Pretty much a mirror of life.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Calm down little one.

You're just all eaten up with hate and envy.

It does suck to be you, I feel sorry for you.

This will be the last response of any type you get from me. People don't read these boards for that stuff.

You can rant all you want, or you can grow up.

Either way, don't care.

SewaneeVolFan writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good grief -- lighten up.

It's a suggestion for a ploy to build team unity, and it's not any crazier than holding up a fist for getting to fourth down, the victory cane (or whatever they called it), or the orange dog.

Perhaps not deserving of the Nobel prize, but so far, I don't see any motivational ploy creators winning it.

Thanks for trying to think originally to help the Vols, emailnodata.

VolGrad writes:

CBJ reeled in another top recruit, Treyvon Paulk. It seems to be snowballing...

Go Vols!!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to emailnodata:

A lot of tenn's tackling problems in the past came from trying to make the big hit that got all the crowd noise.

The interesting thing: the really good teams, and the NFL, would rather you stand a runner up when possible to gang tackle and strip the ball.

However, the crowd loves smackdowns, so the players play to the crowd at UT.

Good point, big hits are a reason the game has changed..However, with rule changes those types of hits are being flagged now and it's very possible we'll see straight shoulder hits without wrapping up being outlawed in years to come. So, it's best to tackle properly and remove any doubt about intentions and most importantly make the tackle.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to VolGrad:

CBJ reeled in another top recruit, Treyvon Paulk. It seems to be snowballing...

Go Vols!!!

Wow, the hits keep coming..GBO!!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point, big hits are a reason the game has changed..However, with rule changes those types of hits are being flagged now and it's very possible we'll see straight shoulder hits without wrapping up being outlawed in years to come. So, it's best to tackle properly and remove any doubt about intentions and most importantly make the tackle.

@Bivy....
Remember, too, for years and years it was all about gang-tackling. I can easily remember Fulmer and Chavis going on about having 11 players around the ball.

Btu, even for them, the players got away from good wrap-up technique.

yeah, great point on the rules changes.

Coach_K writes:

beare and email, I also long for the days of old when the stop would be made by "a whole host of Vols!". Something tells me this staffs focus on fundamentals will show great improvement in tackling and a host of other techniques.

VolGrad writes:

2014 early commit Vic Wharton tweeting, "I hope Vol Nation is ready for a fantastic weekend! If you know what I mean :)"

He and Todd Kelly, Jr are recruiting others hard to commit here. Jalen Hurd and now Treyvon Paulk are just a start according to them.

Well, if these recruits are excited..., I guess I should be as well.

Looking forward to hearing from the Bates and Berrys....

Go Vols!

VolGrad writes:

Some other tweets out of BOC--

Riyahd Jones: Rocky Top! this class we're piecing together is so playa "we are TENNESSEE there's no other place like it man" *coach jones voice*

Corey Miller: Why not come play football for UT?! Do you not notice the change in our current players' attitudes? THE PROOF IS IN THE ORANGE PUDDING! #VFL

VolGrad writes:

S/O to Dillon Bates from Corey Miller: Yo @dillonbates I know you know! You see what I see! The door is open! #FutureVolFriday

@sabanocchio: Dominique Booth will be a Vol soon too. He'll be here on the 6th and again for the O&W game.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Coach_K:

beare and email, I also long for the days of old when the stop would be made by "a whole host of Vols!". Something tells me this staffs focus on fundamentals will show great improvement in tackling and a host of other techniques.

I grew up modeling my tackling from the old NFL players like Doug Atkins, Leroy Jordan as well as Bob Lilly and Chuck Howley. If properly applied you can make some serious pop of the pads and of course secure the tackle. But, I mostly remember the great game announcers at UT announcing the ball carrier was taken down by a "Host of Volunteers"!!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

If I'm the parent of a player looking for a high-profile op....

I look at Dooley as the "fall guy". You know, every program has a fall guy (Mike Shula, Ray Goff) after the legend leaves.

I then look at CBJ as a serious hire: he's got a D1 resume', I can talk to the parents of kids who've played for him, I can search his record.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Now, If I'm a PLAYER looking at UT....
-SEC school, on nasty tv 12 times per year
-a chance to make a name playing AGAINST the best players in college football
-less competition in terms of veteran players returning

A serious player wants 3 things, at this level, and you have to respect that:
-to play well personally, for pride and for a future in football
-to play on a good team. No one wants to be dogged for being on a bad team
-early playing time. No one wants to sit.

UT offers early playing time, a chance for you to excel against the best, and, by extension, create a good football team.

Recruits by and large aren't stupid, they know who is up and who is down and why.

Vol43 writes:

"James Franklin wants to you think about your life choices if you don’t pick Vandy."

One of these days ole Jimmy is gonna put his foot so deep down his throat, he's gonna choke. Get used to it Jimmy, Coach Jones is your daddy.

Coach_K writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I grew up modeling my tackling from the old NFL players like Doug Atkins, Leroy Jordan as well as Bob Lilly and Chuck Howley. If properly applied you can make some serious pop of the pads and of course secure the tackle. But, I mostly remember the great game announcers at UT announcing the ball carrier was taken down by a "Host of Volunteers"!!

I teach my players to drop their base "bite" the football and explode up through the ball carrier. The lick the bc takes as he lands on his back is much more effective than a pop shot. Priorities for my def players are as follows: stop the ball carrier, separate him from the ball, recover and score! Who said the off gets all the points? There are still some of us who teach the game the way we learned it and at the same time learning more and more everyday! I am excited to have a football coach back on the hill. Trying to stay realistic, but it's been a long since we have had a snowball rolling that's not yellow! GBO!

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to dragon18:

Wow! Is it just me or does it feel like we actually have a group of coaches that "coach" football? I wasn't a Dooley hater, but in retrospect I have to wonder if the focus was in the right place. I love/hate comments like "we are a poor tackling team right now." Love it because it means it will be addressed finally. Hate it because.... well because we are a poor tackling team. Guys, I get more excited everyday with this group of COACHES!

BTW- That pic of CBJ is awesome! That is an intense individual and he looks like he would rather be in pads than coaching.

And you think he's a great coach because of his Cincinnatti resume'?

Derek Dooley made him look incompetent, what does that tell you?

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

What football comes down to....

Every vol fan of an age remembers Dale Carters great INT vs the Gators.

Those same fans remember Julian Battles drop of an INT right in his wheel-house.

If you can somehow find the essence that separates two similar players and their results, you've got the difference between "woulda, coulda, shoulda" and "win".

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to emailnodata:

What football comes down to....

Every vol fan of an age remembers Dale Carters great INT vs the Gators.

Those same fans remember Julian Battles drop of an INT right in his wheel-house.

If you can somehow find the essence that separates two similar players and their results, you've got the difference between "woulda, coulda, shoulda" and "win".

ah, dammit, meant Deon Grant, hit "submit" before the edit was complete.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you think he's a great coach because of his Cincinnatti resume'?

Derek Dooley made him look incompetent, what does that tell you?

Is this truly the old DC??

You and the other gator guy used to make some good posts. Cannot remember his name.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Vol43:

"James Franklin wants to you think about your life choices if you don’t pick Vandy."

One of these days ole Jimmy is gonna put his foot so deep down his throat, he's gonna choke. Get used to it Jimmy, Coach Jones is your daddy.

Yeah, Franklin is a charlatan town crier type personality. No matter what he does or who he coaches they will never ever play for a SEC championship. I'm certain he doesn't point that out to his recruits, or he may be that delusional to believe he will win an SEC crown..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you think he's a great coach because of his Cincinnatti resume'?

Derek Dooley made him look incompetent, what does that tell you?

This is so inane I can't believe it was posted..So now you're admitting Cuonzo Martin being 3&0 against Eddie Munster means he's a superior coach??

dragon18 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you think he's a great coach because of his Cincinnatti resume'?

Derek Dooley made him look incompetent, what does that tell you?

That UT has some great talent. Better talent than Cincy. You're comparing apple and orange programs. There is no question that even lower tier teams in the SEC should beat Big East programs. That's not a coaching issue, it's a talent issue.

BTW- You're still an idiot, made even more so by your last ridiculous argument. But thanks for playing!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

This is so inane I can't believe it was posted..So now you're admitting Cuonzo Martin being 3&0 against Eddie Munster means he's a superior coach??

HA!
Do I see a begrudging liking for Billy D??

I like him too, he's a good foe...maybe because at times we beat him, but mostly he's run a good program.

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