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Vols Camp Report: UT Inching Closer to Season Opener

by Freak on August 18, 2017

in Tennessee Vols Football

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 24-ranked Tennessee football team continued to build towards its season opener against Georgia Tech with a spirited practice at Haslam Field on a hot Friday afternoon.

Head coach Butch Jones and three student-athletes answered questions from the media after practice.

Freshman Shamburger Continues to Impress in Secondary

One of reoccurring themes over the past few weeks has been the early success of freshman defensive back Shawn Shamburger. The Moultrie, Ga., native had his black stripe removed after an impressive showing at the team’s scrimmage on Wednesday evening.

“He’s an individual who’s really stepped up,” Jones said. “In the last few practices he’s really made his presence known at the cornerback position.”

Juinior defensive back Michah Abernathy added that he has been impressed with the work ethic on and off the field from Shamburger and fellow freshman DB Cheyenne Labruzza.

“They’re hard workers on and off the field, in the classroom, film room and anything like that,” Abernathy said. “They’re always trying to get ahead of the older guys, so they’ll both be good.”

Tatum, Offensive Line Coming Together

Despite battling some injuries throughout fall camp, the Tennessee offensive line is starting to take shape and build some continuity.

“The first scrimmage is always a huge learning (experience) for some of the freshmen,” Kendrick said. “We got some numbers back and we got to see what we can do versus the defense just out there playing football in a controlled scrimmage. It was good. We had a lot of fun.”

The redshirt senior also praised the development of sophomore offensive lineman Marcus Tatum, stating that he’s looked like a completely different player this fall.

“You can see with Marcus, Coach Rock (Gullickson) has done a great job with him, put on weight,” Kendrick said. “He is coming back with a mindset that he’s ready to play and ready to compete at the highest level.”

Coaches, Players Pleased with Wednesday Scrimmage

Jones and the Vols took the field at Neyland Stadium on Wednesday evening for their first full scrimmage of the fall, allowing the coaches and players alike to gain some important reps in game-like situations.

“I think first of all, just from a game management standpoint, our coaches were able to go in the press box,” Jones said. “The ability to communicate with our players and try to create game-like situations will expose them to many different situations that they’ll face probably throughout the course of the year.

“It was great to get into Neyland Stadium and play football, and that’s what this team needed was to play football.”

Upcoming Schedule

The Vols will practice the next three days before an off day on Tuesday. Classes for UT’s fall semester officially begin next Wednesday, Aug. 23.

The season opener against Georgia Tech is also quickly approaching. The Big Orange will take on Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Labor Day (Sept. 4) at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Get Your Tickets for Vols’ Home Opener

Tickets are still available for Tennessee’s home opener against Indiana State on Sept. 9. Fans can purchase tickets on AllVols.com or by calling or visiting the Thompson-Boling Arena box office (1-800-332-VOLS).

Post Practice Quotes

Head Coach Butch Jones

(On what stood out from Wednesday’s scrimmage)
“I think first of all, just from a game management standpoint, our coaches were able to go in the press box. The ability to communicate with our players and try to create game-like situations will expose them to many different situations that they’ll face probably throughout the course of the year. It was great to get into Neyland Stadium and play football, and that’s what this team needed was to play football.”

(On the progression of the offense)
“It’s give and take, and that’s what we’re talking about with consistency and performance. I think our offense’s development overall has been set back a little bit with lack of continuity and consistency. We’re getting everyone back now and that’s why the next couple of days are absolutely paramount in terms of getting the rhythm, the spacing, and the timing down.”

(On development of cornerback Shawn Shamburger)
“He’s an individual who’s really stepped up. In the last few practices he’s really made his presence known at the cornerback position. The other night, I liked the way he fielded run support, we challenged him with some deep balls and he was able to play the ball in the air. He’s an individual who’s pushing the older players.”

(On preparing for Georgia Tech’s triple-option)
“It’s a challenge because the first thing you have to do is install your base defense. We’re only going to see this offense one time the entire year, and we have a short turnaround playing a Monday night game. So you have to make sure that you balance your time, you have to be able to execute your base defense, and then you graduate on to a scheme for Georgia Tech. Obviously, they’ve run that offense for so long, and they know where to attack. So again, it’s a balancing act for our players. You have to rely on maturity, and then it’s also the fundamentals and details that are critical as well.”

Junior Defensive Back Micah Abernathy

(On Theo Jackson stepping up at safety)

“We love what Theo is doing. Theo is a very bright kid and he’s learning a lot. It takes a lot for a freshman to learn the safety position and learn everything that we need to do. He’s taken it upon himself to do that.

“He’s grasping the defense a lot quicker than we expected because playing safety is hard especially as a freshman and he’s running to the ball. You can see he’s putting in effort.”

(On Cheyenne Labruzza and Shawn Shamburger)

“They’re definitely guys that run to the battle. That’s something that we all notice. They’re hard workers on and off the field, in the classroom, film room and anything like that. They’re always trying to get ahead of the older guys, so they’ll both be good.”

(On wide receivers impressing during camp)

“All our receivers have really impressed all camp. They’re more explosive and better at route running.”

Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End Darrell Taylor

(On what he feels he has improved on most during off-season)
“I’m working on my run technique and getting a lot better with it. Our assistant and (defensive line) coach Hoke have been helping me with that a lot. It’s been a big priority.”

(On patience being tested during first two years at Tennessee)
“It’s been tested, but I think that the older guys that were here before, they just kept me coordinated and made sure my head was on straight. I just did what I did to get through it.”

(On which defensive players stood out during Wednesday’s scrimmage)
“I think there was a few guys that stood out. I thought (cornerback) Marquill (Osborne) stood out and made some good plays. A lot of the other freshmen stood out. (Cornerback Shawn) Shamburger stood out a lot. I think our young guys are coming in and doing a lot of great things.”

Redshirt Senior Offensive Lineman Brett Kendrick

(On the team’s first scrimmage)
“It went well. The first scrimmage is always a huge learning (experience) for some of the freshmen. We got some numbers back and we got to see what we can do versus the defense just out there playing football in a controlled scrimmage. It was good. We had a lot of fun.”

 (On how the offense is different this year under Larry Scott)
“It’s a little different. Every coach has the way they like to do things and so he has put in some different plays for us. He is a guy that demands excellence from us and he does a great job with that. It’s not much different, but we’ve got some new coaches on offense. We’ve got Coach (Walt) Wells in, although he was with us last year too. It’s not much different, just a couple new tweaks and things.”

(On Marcus Tatum’s development over the course of the year)
“I feel like it’s a lot like what happened with Drew Richmond. It’s like they came back their second year and they were totally different players. You can see with Marcus, Coach Rock (Gullickson) has done a great job with him, put on weight. He is coming back with a mindset that he’s ready to play and ready to compete at the highest level.”

Redshirt Senior Punter Trevor Daniel

(On training camp)

“I’m just taking the same approach as I always do. I’m coming out here and trying to do the best that I can, trying to prove something every day. It’s been going great, I’m enjoying it.”

(On freshman punter Joe Doyle)

“Joe, for a freshman punter, is probably one of the better freshman punters I’ve ever seen. He’s got it. He can punt a really good ball. He’s a little slow right now which is expected from a freshman, but once we work with him on that and get his hands a little quicker, I think he’ll be the guy.

“I’m trying to work with him every day and teach him what I know. Whatever he can pick up on, I’m trying to teach him the ways and hopefully he can be the guy. I’d love for him to be the starter next year.”

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