KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Submitted) -- There was only one voice that spoke at the end of the fourth practice for Team 118.
Butch Jones addressed the media without the usual group of players going ahead after a session that he said didn't meet the expectation that he and the staff laid out for the team.
"Everything is based on merit and today I'll be the one speaking to the media," Jones said. "Our players are going to earn the right to talk to the media, it's an honor and a privilege to represent this great football program in the way we practice."
The second practice in shells was met by the hottest afternoon of camp thus far, something Jones knew was going to be a test of the young team's resolve. Jones admitted that he expected there would be days like this one from a mental standpoint, but said that couldn't be acceptable, particularly when the team's physical conditioning was up to the challenge.
"We have to stop using youth as a crutch and an excuse," Jones said. "It is what it is and opponents don't care. Everything is about a culture, an expectation."
Beyond earning the right to speak to the media, Jones wanted the team's focus to stay squarely on themselves and moving on to the next phases of camp, from team meetings to their physical recovery. Players are also in the final exam period of the second session of summer school.
"I told you our patience would be tried and our patience is being tried," Jones said. "I think our players are competing, we're just not there yet in our standard and expectations. We'll continue to work on that and develop that, but I want all their focus on that."
Jones reminded the team and the media of the challenge that awaits when Utah State comes to Neyland Stadium in just 27 days.
"We can't waste one single opportunity to improve this football team," Jones said. "We'll get better and work through it. This is a learning opportunity."
ROBERTSON FLIPS TO OFFENSE
Coming out of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Jashon Roberston was a two-way standout at defensive tackle and offensive guard. After three days on the defensive line in his college career, Robertson switched to the offensive of the ball on Monday, working at guard. As the Vols look for depth on the offensive line, the move gives Jones and offensive line coach Don Mahoney more options.
"Jashon Robertson we're trying right now at offensive line, so we moved his position to the offensive guard," said Jones. "He showed some things in practice that we liked, so we moved him to the offensive line. I tell you what, Jashon is one of those individuals. Love him to death. Always has a smile on his face. Loves the opportunity. He's tough. He's extremely competitive, and he's doing a great job for us."
Robertson was honored as a First-Team All-Midstate selection as a senior in 2013. He helped the Big Red to a 10-2 record with his play on the O-Line and D-Line with 74 tackles including 14 for a loss of yardage.
CARSON DEPARTS AS A GRADUATE
After three years in the program, defensive lineman Allan Carson has left the Vols. He earned his degree in Sociology this past May.
"He's graduated and moved on," Jones said of Carson on Monday.
In his career, Carson played in five games as a true freshman in 2011. The Oxford, Alabama native was one of 16 true freshmen to see action that season, playing in five of the last seven contests.
HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES
"Everything is based on merit and today I will be the one speaking to the media. Our players are going to earn the right to talk to the media, it is an honor and a privilege to represent this great football program in the way we practice. Right now we have to stop using youth as a crutch or as an excuse, it is what it is, it is where we are at in the program, nobody cares, our opponents don't care. Everything is about a culture and a standard and an expectation. I told you our patience is going to be tried and our patience is being tried. I think our players are competing but we are just not there yet in our standard and our expectations. We will continue to develop and work on that. I want all their focus on showering, getting up, eating dinner, working on their recovery and going right to meetings because we can't waste one single opportunity to improve this football team.
>>(On what he didn't like about practice)
"Just a standard and an expectation by which we are going to practice and you go through the highs and lows of training camp but what you want is a consistent approach and I really haven't seen that consistency in performance. A lot of it is players going through it for the first time but we can't allow that to be an excuse. They need to focus on football and academics and finishing school strong. But we are going to come out. When we step out on the grass, it is two hours of mental effort and mental intensity in everything that we do. That is the standard, that is the expectation, that is the way we coach and that is the way we are going to play around here. And when it doesn't meet up to those standards and expectations there is repercussions. We have to focus on getting better as a football team."
>>(On if he has done this at other schools)
"Every team is different but every team that we have coached has played with a hard edge, has had a mentality and it is a process, your practice habits, your consistency, but it is also leadership. Leadership is at a premium right now. We don't have very many leaders. We talk to our team about, do you invest your time or do you spend you time? You can come out here and just spend it or you are investing it. Then the next thing in the evolution of a team is, are you hearing yourself or are you talking to yourself. You have to control your mindset. It got a little hot out there today but again we are going to play in some heat games. Every team is different, has different dynamics, but all I am concerned about it what is going on here."
>>(On the player's approach to practice)
"I didn't like the approach yesterday, again, everything is a standard, from the minute we walk on the football field, we don't walk, we run. You look at Antonio Brown, one of the best wideouts in the National Football League, talked to the Steelers, he hits the ground, it is a standard and an expectation, you run from drill to drill. You get your extra work in. That is what is embedded in this football program and I just didn't like our overall approach and consistency and we have to set the tone. Our players understand, they are willing, they are trying to do everything at once and practice with a tempo. But you just have to continue to grind through. The biggest thing is just overall consistency.
>>(On if he is surprised at where the team is at)
"No. We're right where I expected. But like I said you can't allow these things to happen. But I said it in the introductory press conference, and maybe now you guys know what I was talking about, our patience is going to be tried and we have to show some patience. We have to be great teachers, and we have to continue to lead them. But our older players need to step up. I mean, this is what you do. You don't play football... You'd rather play football than strength and condition and train and all that. You do it to make yourself a better football player, and when you get a chance to actually play football, you should be excited each and every day because you get to play a great sport that not many people get that opportunity to play. The other thing is you get to represent the University of Tennessee. There isn't any better institution in the country, and when you've grown up in the division three ranks, division two ranks, the Mid-American Conference, when you get to a place like this, it makes you appreciate it that much more. I talked about Antonio Brown. At Central Michigan, we would meet in meeting rooms , cinder block rooms with no air conditioning, just fans. It'd be 110 degrees in there, and our offensive line would be losing weight. We had a fundraiser, a bake sale, so we could raise money. Our wives ran it so we could buy extra ice for cold tubs. And that's what I want our players to understand. What you have at the University of Tennessee is very special. Never take that for granted."
>>(On balancing patience with sense of urgency)
"That's a great question, and everything is a sense of urgency. We'll have patience. We'll go in. We'll teach off the film. We'll correct. We'll get it fixed. But I think today just exemplifies the sense of urgency that this team has to have because our margin of error is very, very small. And if you're a competitor, you get to prove people wrong. You get to prove... We should be hungry. We don't have an individual on this football team that has played in a bowl game. That should motivate you. You know, football should motivate you, and it does. These are the days of training camp but they're tremendous teaching opportunities."
>>(On if the team understands his standards)
"They want to do it. They just need to be taught how to do it. And they'll do it and they'll get it done. And they understand the sense of urgency. They better because we don't have much time. The clock is ticking until Utah State. Utah State is a fine, fine football team and a fine, fine football program, so we have to be game ready right off the bat."
>>(On Jashon Robertson)
"The other thing is that I thought you guys were waiting to ask me, Jashon Robertson we're trying right now at offensive line, so we moved his position to the offensive guard. He showed some things in practice that we liked, so we moved him to the offensive line. I tell you what, Jashon is one of those individuals. Love him to death. Always has a smile on his face. Loves the opportunity. He's tough. He's extremely competitive, and he's doing a great job for us.
>>(On Allan Carson)
"Yes. He's graduated and moved on."