Tennessee’s practice Thursday inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center marked the final time that the Vols will work out on the field before taking part in their first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
“You see things in practice, but when you get to scrimmage time, some of the things that maybe you didn’t see show up, and some of the things that looked good don’t look so good,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “It is important and I told the team that. You only really have two hardcore ones in the spring because the spring game is a little different. They’re all important and this one certainly is too. It’s a good early barometer of where we are.”
The Vols used Thursday’s practice to install their two-minute packages.
“We all know how important the last two minutes of the game are,” Dooley said. “We certainly found ourselves in some two-minute situations that we didn’t finish last year so we have to get a lot better. I was really proud of the defense today. They got after the offense from start to finish.”
CATCHING UP WITH THE COORDINATORS
Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, along with other assistant coaches, met with the media following Thursday’s practice for the first time this spring. Below are some of the comments that Chaney and Wilcox shared.
Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney on...
...quarterback Tyler Bray’s development:
“You’re calling plays now and he understands what they are. He’s seeing the big picture better and he’s throwing the ball accurate like he always does. We’re real pleased with his development and he’s doing fine. He’s growing up the way he’s supposed to.”
...trying to replace UT’s three leading receivers from 2010 (Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore and Luke Stocker):
“That will go on for the complete season. Filling those three seniors’ roles is going to be difficult. They left a pretty good legacy here at Tennessee. We hope that those kids behind them will be able to do it but they’re good and will be missed.”
...sophomore wide receivers Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter:
“Da’Rick has had a wonderful spring and Justin is coming around right now. The last few practices he’s been doing a lot better.”
Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox on...
...the differences between this spring and last:
“I don’t know if comfortable is the word. I think they’re definitely ahead of where they were last spring because everything was brand new. We have a much better base to start from. I think the sense of urgency is always the same. We’re not where we need to be by any stretch but I think our foundation of what the guys know and what’s expected of them is much better than a year ago.”
...the development of the Vols’ defense:
“I think they’ve done a good job. Conceptually, they have been better and they have a better understanding of what all the concepts mean. We don’t always execute them right and we’re probably never going to be 100 percent but we’re ahead of the game of where we were a year ago. We just need to continually, every day, make those small improvements. Over the course of spring, summer and into the fall, that will make us that much better.”
...making the defense more complex:
“It’s a fine line that you’re always going to ride. You want those guys to play fast. We’re going to expect some of these guys that played for us last year and maybe some new guys to play for us. You have to ride that line of where you want them playing fast but you want to give the offense enough to make it complicated for them. We’re always going to ride that line and make sure that we have enough in our arsenal but also aren’t slowing our own guys down.”
-UT’s practice was its first full session inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center this spring. The Vols worked inside the complex for parts of last Wednesday’s practice due to thunderstorms.
-Both Dooley and Chaney had high regards for freshman quarterback Justin Worley and are pleased with the early enrollee’s progress.
-The Vols have installed about 90 percent of the offense with Bray, which is about 50 percent more than last year, according to Chaney.