With spring break looming, UT coaches say much work still to be done

Zach  Azzani

Zach Azzani

UT practice, March 21, 2013

For Tennessee football players planning to head to the beach for spring break, receivers Zach Azzanni has good news.

Beaches offer plenty of room to run.

As Tennessee wrapped up the spring’s sixth practice session on Thursday, departing players were left with a stern admonition by Azzanni and other coaches: If you don’t make it off the couch during spring break, it will be obvious when practice resumes 10 days from now.

“It’s going to be a test of the maturity of our football team,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek. “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.”

Azzanni said he was training his young players on being “pros” for whom a 10-day break without worrying about training or diet is unthinkable.

“On (April 2), we’ll be able to tell, who was on spring break, and who was on a spring break,” Azzanni said.

The Vols break with six practices in the books, exactly 40 percent of the 15 allotted spring sessions. The good news, said offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, is that the progress has been steady, if slow.

“We always show them the good and bad (from practice), and we’re finally getting to the point where we have more good than bad,” Bajakian said.

Coach Butch Jones set the tone for Thursday’s practice early, yelling into the mic, “The soft guys will get exposed!” as players did stretching.

Jones was active on the mic, calling out and challenging players — sometimes playfully, sometimes not.

“We’re fighting for blades of grass today,” he said several times.

Freshman receiver Paul

Harris was one of the players challenged. He found his jersey switched from No. 1 to No. 91.

Azzanni said he’d have to earn the right to wear No. 1.

“It’s a little bit of a jab at him,” Azzanni said, but hastened to add, “He’s a great kid. He’s going to be just fine.”

Jones also spent time trying to heap added pressure on kicker Michael Palardy. The senior hit four field goals in a row, which Jones announced to the practice field before adding, “Uh-oh, it’s on the left hash now, Palardy.”

Palardy nailed the kick.

Azzanni was less thrilled with his receivers, who he said appeared to “hit a wall” on Thursday.

For his part, Jancek bemoaned the team’s poor tackling.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with our tackling,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious for anybody that was out here. We’re missing a lot of tackles.”

That’s why Jancek said he was more concerned about the basics right now than the installation of his system.

“It doesn’t do you any good to have a bunch of calls if they don’t know how to tackle, run to the ball, or do the things that are necessary to play great defense,” he said. “I want them to learn how to play the game with the tempo and passion that we want to have on defense. Once we establish that, we can get into plays.”

On the other side of the ball, Azzanni said the same.

“It’s never going to be about scheme with us,” he said. “It’s going to be about us playing harder, more physical and wearing an opponent out.”

Even after a 10-day break.

“I can’t baby-sit you,” Azzanni said. “If you don’t (work), we’ll be able to tell.”

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

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Comments » 20

volunteerintexas writes:

Has anyone heard anything regarding Gunner Kiel transferring to Tennessee?

Seems to me this is a no brainer. Kid may be looking for a home, and CBJ's style may settle him down a bit. This is a kid who last year was the top ranked, 5-star QB in the country... it's worth the risk to bring him on board, insulate him, and spend his "bench year" to develop him.

I know there will be nay-sayers. However, in my mind, the upside is worth the risk.

mountainbrook writes:

Commited to Indiana...then committed to LSU...then went to Notre Dame and quit there because of competition. No thanks.

jimvolfan writes:

For his part, Jancek bemoaned the team’s poor tackling.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with our tackling,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious for anybody that was out here. We’re missing a lot of tackles.”

That’s why Jancek said he was more concerned about the basics right now than the installation of his system.

Tackling has been a problem at UT for years. Too many attempts at arm tackling and not wrapping up the opponent. I hope that Jancek can get the guys to go back to basics and learn how to tackle properly.

laraccoon writes:

"It doesn’t do you any good to have a bunch of calls if they don’t know how to tackle, run to the ball, or do the things that are necessary to play great defense,” i am so glad to hear Jancek say this. we have had a poor tackling team far to long .

volnbig11land writes:

I know talk is cheap, but dang, it's hard not to get excited about the future of this team.

I'll be in the motherland in a few hours, can't wait to just drive through the campus.

Go Vols!

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to jimvolfan:

For his part, Jancek bemoaned the team’s poor tackling.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with our tackling,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious for anybody that was out here. We’re missing a lot of tackles.”

That’s why Jancek said he was more concerned about the basics right now than the installation of his system.

Tackling has been a problem at UT for years. Too many attempts at arm tackling and not wrapping up the opponent. I hope that Jancek can get the guys to go back to basics and learn how to tackle properly.

Please don't remind me: Any person remaining at that school that was involved in the decision to hire Sal Sunseri at the salary level they did should be relieved of their duties by the close of business TODAY.

And while I'm at it (CHANGE OF TOPIC) -- If it took a public outcry for Jimmy Cheek to withdraw public funds for SEX WEEK (for which the school has now become a NATIONAL LAUGHING STOCK) he needs to be gone from The University Of Tennessee IMMEDIATELY.

DC82_Vol writes:

What the heck was Dooley's staff doing for the last three years? He obviously didn't recruit well. He didn't have the team in shape, physically or mentally. It sounds like our fundamentals are severely lacking. I don't get it. I am amazed you can be on the University of TN FB team and you don't know fundamentals.

We can only go upward. I am excited about these coaches. Apparently, the coaches that left Dooley understood how bad the program had become and apparently felt they did not have the skill to coach winning FB.

borovol1956 writes:

in response to DC82_Vol:

What the heck was Dooley's staff doing for the last three years? He obviously didn't recruit well. He didn't have the team in shape, physically or mentally. It sounds like our fundamentals are severely lacking. I don't get it. I am amazed you can be on the University of TN FB team and you don't know fundamentals.

We can only go upward. I am excited about these coaches. Apparently, the coaches that left Dooley understood how bad the program had become and apparently felt they did not have the skill to coach winning FB.

It was painfully obvious they were not doing enough. That is why they are gone.

IndyVolFan writes:

in response to volunteerintexas:

Has anyone heard anything regarding Gunner Kiel transferring to Tennessee?

Seems to me this is a no brainer. Kid may be looking for a home, and CBJ's style may settle him down a bit. This is a kid who last year was the top ranked, 5-star QB in the country... it's worth the risk to bring him on board, insulate him, and spend his "bench year" to develop him.

I know there will be nay-sayers. However, in my mind, the upside is worth the risk.

I thought when he left LSU, he didn't want the competition. I've seen him play here in Indy, and while he was good, he didn't amaze me (could've been the team they were playing). He supposedly lit up the camps though.

He would have been more impressive if he'd played in the MIC conference. It's the equivalent of Oak Ridge, Alcoa, CAK, Dobbyns Bennett, Maryville, etc ... in one conference. Was the 2nd toughest conference in the nation a few years back.

I tried like he11 to get Dooley to come up here and recruit. These kids want big time FB and they have IU, Purdue, ND, and OSU to choose from (2 out of 4 ain't bad, I guess). Many want something else. I think Coach Davis will rectify that. I've already heard he's after a few kids here.

IndyVolFan writes:

in response to IndyVolFan:

I thought when he left LSU, he didn't want the competition. I've seen him play here in Indy, and while he was good, he didn't amaze me (could've been the team they were playing). He supposedly lit up the camps though.

He would have been more impressive if he'd played in the MIC conference. It's the equivalent of Oak Ridge, Alcoa, CAK, Dobbyns Bennett, Maryville, etc ... in one conference. Was the 2nd toughest conference in the nation a few years back.

I tried like he11 to get Dooley to come up here and recruit. These kids want big time FB and they have IU, Purdue, ND, and OSU to choose from (2 out of 4 ain't bad, I guess). Many want something else. I think Coach Davis will rectify that. I've already heard he's after a few kids here.

Coach Jones...not sure where the Davis thing came from.

formervol1950s writes:

in response to volnbig11land:

I know talk is cheap, but dang, it's hard not to get excited about the future of this team.

I'll be in the motherland in a few hours, can't wait to just drive through the campus.

Go Vols!

A spirit like yours is exceptional this day and time . Keep on keeping on !

bUTch_please writes:

in response to laraccoon:

"It doesn’t do you any good to have a bunch of calls if they don’t know how to tackle, run to the ball, or do the things that are necessary to play great defense,” i am so glad to hear Jancek say this. we have had a poor tackling team far to long .

No Doubt.

How many times in the past years has one of our defensive players walked back to the huddle shaking his helmet in disbelief that the other teams player didn't fall down with shoulder contact? Set me off in a frothing fit every time.

But you know, could be another side to that. How many times did you see our runners and receivers fall down when they saw a shadow? If our defense was knocking our guys down with a half-thump, why would they expect the other team to run through tackles? I so hope Coach Jones and Co. can fix both of these issues.

SummerfieldVol writes:

The team that blocks and tackles the best usually wins the ball game. These are the two fundamentals that have to be done well to win. You don't have the fastest team on the field but your team does not miss a tackle or miss a block you will be in the ballgame or most likely win the game.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to jimvolfan:

For his part, Jancek bemoaned the team’s poor tackling.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with our tackling,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious for anybody that was out here. We’re missing a lot of tackles.”

That’s why Jancek said he was more concerned about the basics right now than the installation of his system.

Tackling has been a problem at UT for years. Too many attempts at arm tackling and not wrapping up the opponent. I hope that Jancek can get the guys to go back to basics and learn how to tackle properly.

Worse than arm tackling, IMHO, was the tendency to go for the knockout blow with the shoulder rather than breaking down and wrapping up. You had BETTER have your arms involved in tackling; you just don't want to have to be grabbing at them as they go by. I like what I'm hearing about the way these coaches are starting with the fundamentals and building from there. You can't assume anything about fundamentals when you are seeing players live for the first time. All the game film from the last few years should have been enough in itself to show that MUCH work on fundamentals was necessary.

kevininaugustageorgia writes:

in response to jimvolfan:

For his part, Jancek bemoaned the team’s poor tackling.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with our tackling,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious for anybody that was out here. We’re missing a lot of tackles.”

That’s why Jancek said he was more concerned about the basics right now than the installation of his system.

Tackling has been a problem at UT for years. Too many attempts at arm tackling and not wrapping up the opponent. I hope that Jancek can get the guys to go back to basics and learn how to tackle properly.

Nail on the head. Doesn't matter what the system or if a guy is in place or not if he doesn't know how to tackle.

As a group, UT hasn't tackled well the past couple of years.

At least this defensive staff seems to recognize the importance of wraping up and making the tackle.

lknvol writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Please don't remind me: Any person remaining at that school that was involved in the decision to hire Sal Sunseri at the salary level they did should be relieved of their duties by the close of business TODAY.

And while I'm at it (CHANGE OF TOPIC) -- If it took a public outcry for Jimmy Cheek to withdraw public funds for SEX WEEK (for which the school has now become a NATIONAL LAUGHING STOCK) he needs to be gone from The University Of Tennessee IMMEDIATELY.

Agreed!!! Cheek has to go!!!!! Sooner than later!!!

Snapshot writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

Commited to Indiana...then committed to LSU...then went to Notre Dame and quit there because of competition. No thanks.

Exactly, appears he doesn't know what he wants, or where he wants to be.

iowavol writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Please don't remind me: Any person remaining at that school that was involved in the decision to hire Sal Sunseri at the salary level they did should be relieved of their duties by the close of business TODAY.

And while I'm at it (CHANGE OF TOPIC) -- If it took a public outcry for Jimmy Cheek to withdraw public funds for SEX WEEK (for which the school has now become a NATIONAL LAUGHING STOCK) he needs to be gone from The University Of Tennessee IMMEDIATELY.

Are you really saying that Sunseri would have been a good decision at a lower salary? Not in my opinion. Hiring Sunseri was a bad decision even if he paid UT. The ripples of his disaster will be felt for years.

One more question - what is Sex Week? I know I live in the Midwest, but never really heard of it or it's NATIONAL notoriety.

utnvolsr1 writes:

The db's wanted to be like Berry. His style of play was like that. But there was a big difference from other db's since Mr. Berry. When Berry hits you, you stay down. Berry had the talent and speed with toughness to make those plays. I seen him miss a hand full of tackles his whole career. Db's since miss that many in a game. Db's try to be Berry and bounce off the running back.

USNCorpsman writes:

in response to lknvol:

Agreed!!! Cheek has to go!!!!! Sooner than later!!!

Yeah... keep your politics out of football. Holy phooey.

I'm pleased to see the intensity of these practices. This year is still going to be a rough one, but I think all Vol fans should withhold serious judgement of Coach Jones until year 3.

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