KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones opened the spring football season with a Monday press conference, at which he outlined plans for his fifth year in the program.
Jones addressed the pending quarterback competition, which will continue today with the first of 15 spring session practices culminating with the annual Orange and White game on April 22 at Neyland Stadium.
In short, Jones said there’s no timetable to pick a starter and outlined three keys.
But there was much more discussed, including these 5 things:
1. Tennessee Football ‘Competition’
It was the word of the day, as Jones said all of his players would have a fresh start and there would be open competition at each position.
That only makes sense when one considers that five position groups have new coaches overseeing them: defensive backs, defensive line, offensive line, receivers and quarterbacks.
2.Tennessee Football ‘Physicalness’
Jones has talked about it before, but now the head coach is committing to more physical drills, even with the team missing some players this spring.
Jones said there will be “half-line” drills as well as more one-on-ones, perhaps seeing how the physical bowl practices primed his team for the dominant 38-24 win over Nebraska.
This could be key if Jones gives the OK for his players to compete in 7-on-7 during the summer — something he has not always approved.
3.Tennessee Football ‘Injury Report’
Jones listed eight players that would be sidelined during spring drills: OL Brett Kendrick; WR Josh Smith; WR Brandon Johnson; DT Kendal Vickers; DT Shy Tuttle; DE Kyle Phillips; FS Micah Abernathy; SS Rashaan Gaulden.
That means OT Chance Hall, LB Quart’e Sapp and DB Stephen Griffin will be able to take part in some drills, even though they are coming off injuries.
4. Tennessee Football ‘Offensive Adjustments’
Jones said that while the Vols will operate out of the same base offense, he is working first-year with offensive coordinator Larry Scott to modify the scheme to take advantage of personnel.
UT is lacking proven playmakers on the perimeter, so this could mean a reduction in 3- and 4-receiver sets and heavier looks on the offensive line.
5.Tennessee Football ‘Monumental Impact’
Jones saved his greatest praise for new strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson, who was hired after last season to improve the Vols’ power and speed.
“Rock Gullickson has made a monumental impact on our football program,” Jones said. “It all starts in the weight room and Coach Rock has a unique way of challenging our players.
“I think tomorrow when you’re out there for a little bit of practice, you will see a much bigger much more explosive football team.”
Tennessee football coach Butch Jones opening spring press conference
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Insiders on Monday, March 20, 2017