KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — While Tennessee continues preparations for Nebraska in the Music City Bowl, the Vols have mostly focused on fundamentals and player development during the initial bowl workouts.
True game-planning for the Cornhuskers will start later this week, so the early practices have been invaluable for younger players hoping to carve out a role on the team next season.
All eyes have been on quaterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady, but freshman wideouts Marquez Callaway, LaTrell Williams and Brandon Johnson have received plenty of attention, too.
The same could be said for many of the freshman offensive linemen headed for a redshirt season.
“These practices means everything,” offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said Wednesday.
“I think you have to go back and kind of reteach the temperament that you want. Some of the guys have been down on the scout team. Sometimes their technique can get a little sloppy, finishing their blocks can get sloppy, things like that. I thought the first day some of the guys were hit-and-miss. They’d have a good play and then they wouldn’t. After practice I said, ‘Hey. We don’t need that. If you guys are going to compete for jobs you have to bring it everyday, every play.’
“These last few practices have been really good in that way. You’re teaching them a lot of things. Not just technique stuff.”
With no school right now, players — particularly important for underclassmen — can focus solely on football, allowing them to really dive into the playbook or study film.
Ideally, they can take their added knowledge to the practice field and the extra reps could serve as a launching pad for 2017.
“Reps are always so important,” DeBord said.
“I don’t care what you do in the offseason, running around and all that. But when you’re out there with the pads on, contact, that’s when football is played. Those extra reps help them with their development.”