Butch Jones Press Conference Transcript and Video

by UT Sports Information on August 14, 2015

in Tennessee Vols Football


(Opening Statement)
“Good to see everyone on media day. Just wanted to give you an update – we are going to take the team picture in our new sweat suits. So those of you who came out to see the new Nike uniforms, you are going to have to wait. I’m just joking. I know a lot of you came out to see the new Nike uniforms. I know our players are looking forward to it and all that. Just kind of an update – most of you have been at most of the practices, so obviously we’ve been through 10 practices. We’re making progress each and every day. Tomorrow is a very very critical day for us. We will have our second two-a-day, so we’ll practice in the morning. We’ll do a lot of situational, clock-management type of stuff, individual periods, really getting some of our specialty kicks in from a kicking game standpoint. We are making progress. The big thing going through training camp is the ability to sustain difficult things. Every day you are faced with a challenge and it’s a grind, and we’re going through that grind right now. It’s all in how you respond each and every day. Our players for the most part have responded. We’re making progress some days better than others, but like we spoke about at the beginning of training camp, it’s all about being one percent better and I believe we’re doing that. Obviously, getting back some players in practice will be very very beneficial. Off of our injury list, we can have as many as eight to 10 return for Saturday morning’s practice. So that will really really aid and benefit us. That’s really just the process of going through training camp right now. This is where your toughness, this is where your team chemistry, this is where your resiliency is born here. We always talk about you don’t want to survive the day. You don’t want to endure. You want to embrace it. You want to thrive in the day, thrive in the moment – that’s how you get better each and every day. For the most part, I see that occurring some days more than others.”

(On the SEC Network’s impact on the program and conference)
“I think the SEC Network has made a major impact in so many things. I think just the level of attention when you look at the households that it goes into and not just in the South but from coast to coast. I think it brings validity to our conference, but also just heightened awareness. Everywhere you go it seems like people are watching the SEC Network. It’s also helped in recruiting. And they do a great job of really helping you brand your product, in not just in Tennessee but across our conference. So I think it’s been a big benefit.”

(On number of offensive playmakers on roster now versus two years ago)
“It’s night and day. But it’s taking advantage of the playmakers, having them healthy, being able to get the ball in their hands. You don’t have to be a skill player to be a playmaker. You can be an offensive lineman and be a playmaker. But, like I spoke about earlier in this training camp, probably the biggest difference is in the running back position right now. When you add individuals like Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara and then John Kelly and Joe Young and Ralph David Abernathy IV — when you add those type of individuals, you’re creating some depth but also some competition. And as we know, you can never have enough running backs. Ethan Wolf, getting him back tomorrow will be big for us. He’s a weapon, so getting him back practicing will aid us. Obviously, the wide receiver position–so just across the board we’ve taken monumental strides in moving forward, but we still need to continue to recruit and develop those positions as well.”

(On the progress of the passing game)
“We still have a long way to go in terms of the passing game in terms of the overall fundamentals and details that go behind it–the rhythm, the spacing, the timing. So much goes into a throw game and it’s not just the quarterback, it’s not just the running backs, or the tight ends or the wide receivers. It’s also the offensive line in providing protection. And that’s what makes football the greatest team sport is it takes 11. And everyone is one out of 11 and all 11 have to work together. One individual stepping the wrong way or running the wrong route, one misread–you know, that play’s not going to have success. So that’ll be work in progress, but we have made progress but not to where we’re game-ready yet. And again, it gets back to that one percent. Getting some individuals back will help us as well. So when you throw the football, there’s a lot that goes into it. So it’s not just one or two particular positions, and we’ll work the throw game from here on our like we always do. Last night, we had more situational scrimmage; some short fields, some coming outs, some one minute opportunities. It just didn’t give us the flexibility or leeway to really open up the passing game, which we’ll start to do that now. Aaron Medley by the way, last night had the best practice I think he’s had in his career. He made a 56 yarder and a 58 yarder. It was wind-aided a little bit, but he really kicked the ball very well. I have been very encouraged the last couple days by our punting game particularly our three punters. I think they’re doing a very good job. I’m starting to see some consistency arise from that position group and they’re competing each and every day. So I’ve been very pleased with the punting situation as well.”

(On offensive differences between this season and last season) 
“Not much difference. We’ve looked to enhance the offense. We’ve done some different things with formations like three tight end sets, five wide sets, some things will be different that way. To the general observer there won’t be much. With any new coordinator you go back and quality control everything. You look at the trends in college football; you look at the skill set of your players and you are always adapting and adjusting to the skill set of your players and what the quarterback can do. So we will continue to grow with that, but there will be some little nuances but not wholesale changes. More in personnel groupings, some different pass combinations but not much that will be earth shattering.”

(On Max Arnold’s progress) 
“He’s doing a really good job. Max was back in progress yesterday, participated in the scrimmage. Getting him back now on some special teams as well. We’ve been very pleased with him. He’s another individual where you know what you’re getting every day. He’s very consistent in his approach and he’s done a great job in the training room so it was great to have him back.”

(On progress of running game) 
“Just like everything else it is a work in progress. It is not game ready yet and there’s so much from being able to pick up pressures, twists, secondary pressures and blitzes. So much that goes into it, but first of all it starts with the running back. I think Jalen [Hurd] and Alvin [Kamara] complement each other’s skill set. They are very competitive and they are doing a great job of really mentoring our freshman running backs along with Ralph David [Abernathy]. So they’ve done a very good job, they’re consistent and worked exceptionally hard. We’ve taken care of the ball in practice which is great to see. Just like anything, we are only through our tenth practice, and our whole pad level, our leverage, our landmarks on the second level all those little nuances. Backside blocking, we always talk to our players in terms of frontside blocking wins games, backside blocking wins championships. It’s all about backside cutoffs and taking the appropriate angles and courses. I do think our offensive line has really made some very good strides in moving forward here the last few days I see progress with them. That’s another group that has been set back with some injuries. But also it’s been great because we are seeing who we can win with. Everyone’s having the opportunity to put their football identity on video so we have great teaching video to go back and its helping us assess which nine or 10 guys will be on the bus over to Nashville.”

(On pressure taken off the O-Line from experienced players around them) 
“They do, but every year, you have to basically reprove yourself. Football is a very humbling game. I told our football today that all of the expectations that are out there are a byproduct of Team 118. I want to remind everyone that Team 119 has not taken any snaps, so everything that is coming their way is the way Team 118 finished the season. That’s usually how rankings go. Everything is a prediction, but they look at last year’s team. Well, last year’s team is not here.

“We are now responsible for the identity that we create. We are responsible for our style of play and our discipline. That is something we are going to hone in on. We have had too many pre-snap penalties. We have had way too many penalties in general as a football team. We were right up there with the tops in the country in fewest penalty yardage and penalties. That was a disciplined football team. We take great pride in that. We have to get back to understanding who we are and how we got there, and the penalty situation is a big part of that as well.”

(On team leadership) 
“It needs to continue to evolve. We are not where we need to be. We are getting very strong leadership on the defensive side of the ball with Curt Maggitt, but we need more. He can’t do it all. Leadership is hard. You can’t just do it when it’s convenient. You lead when it’s difficult. You really find out about your football team when you get into these later practices. You find out what type of resiliency you have, and it challenges your leadership. We are also challenged because we start classes next week.

“These next few days are absolutely paramount in our football team. There can be no wasted plays, time or opportunities. That is up to your leadership, and it’s everyone being responsible for their determination and accountability. Offensively, an individual who is really starting to insert himself is Alvin Kamara. He has really become the voice of the offense. We need individuals to step up and embrace. The leadership. Leadership is influence and difficult, especially in times of need.”

(On which O-Lineman are training at multiple positions) 
“We have been cross training. Some individuals have gone from center to guard and some from guard to tackle. As we know, it’s a very long season. We have some playing one position. Jack Jones is playing guard. That’s all he is playing, so he is able to hone in on the skillset that is required and the footwork that is required from that position. The rest of the guys we are moving around trying to find the best five for us and even the best six, seven or eight guys to continue to provide depth and stability. Jack is really the one who sticks out among the freshman. They have really honed in on one position. We have moved Brett Kendrick around to see where he can best fit the football team as well.”

(On when he would like to have to offensive line starters set) 
“Very soon, but you never put timetables on anything because everything is all about growth and development and maturation and sometimes it take a little more time. But, the five working together obviously helps, but we need to find the right five. And all of the individuals have worked exceptionally hard. I’ve liked their mentality and the way they’ve approached practice. Getting Jashon (Robertson) back will obviously help, we all know what he can do. In terms of chemistry as a unit, getting him back will really help. We expect him back in a couple days.”

(On how this team compares to others he has coached) 
“Each team is different. What makes college football special is a third of your roster turns over from year to year, and sometimes for us it’s been more than that. With 64 percent of our roster being in their first year or having one year of college football under their belt in terms of experience. You can’t assume anything still, this is still a really young football team. So what happens going through the grind, is maybe in their maturation maybe last year, you had some true freshman that played significant roles on special teams. Well this year now they have not only significant roles on special teams, but significant roles on sides of the ball. That changes a little bit. So it’s different. Every year is different, every training camp is different. The similarities are injures, the grind of training camp, hitting a mental wall, hitting a physical wall, seeing who your leaders are. This is really where your leader are developed. This is the time now where your true fundamentals, your technique, your grit, your competitiveness, your emotional stability. This is where is really starts to show. And I told our football team that. The next four days will reveal themselves as what kind of football team we are going to be. I’ll give you an example, last night, we have to correct a lot of deficiencies, our players understand that, but they were all in our position meeting rooms after practice studying film with each other. That shows me a lot. That was great to see. So when you talked about leadership, that shows me there’s some leadership there. But we have to continue to grow and we still have a lot of true freshman that are in the mix to play. And we know that being in this conference, looking at the teams that have had success, particularly last year, but over a course and a period of time, they’ve been junior and senior dominated football teams. Fifth-year seniors, fourth-year seniors, that makes a big difference. So when you get into training camp, they truly know the standard and the expectations.”

(On Jakob Johnson at tight end) 
“Jakob’s going to stay at tight end. He has done a really good job as far as not playing the position before. Jakob, possesses very good balance, he has very good leverage, he’s very explosive, and he has the want to. He wants to learn how to do it. And the way I look at it, when you make a positional change, he has no bad habits. So you get a chance to build him from ground zero, you get a chance to mold him and build him up. And he’s done a very good job with it. He’s embraced it like we knew Jakob would. And I can see him getting better everyday.”

(On rebuilding roster and how important the mid-state area has been)
“Paramount. The mid-state has meant everything to us and the entire state of Tennessee. You look at all the players from last year’s recruiting class that really helped change this program. They came from the mid-state. When you look at what Jashon Robertson did, where he didn’t even play offensive line until the third or fourth practice and he’s a Freshman All-American. You look at the year that Derek Barnett had. You know, Jalen HurdJosh MaloneRashaan Gaulden. I can go on and on and I’d be remised if I didn’t miss somebody. I may miss somebody, Aaron Medley–true freshman place kicker. But now what you did last year doesn’t mean anything going into this year. You have to continue to grow and be better. You have to reprove yourself each and every day. That’s what the game of football is about. I’ll continue to say it because I mean it wholeheartedly in my heart: When you’re from Tennessee and you represent the University of Tennessee, that’s a legacy that will live forever. Vol for Life means something and usually you’re going to want to live in this state. As we all know, Vol for Life means everything, future jobs, everything that’s associated with staying at home and representing your home state institution.”

(On monitoring sleep and how it is done)
“Each young man has a sleep coach and we have about 25 players right now that have a sleep coach and they actually have a system set up underneath their mattress and we can gauge how many hours of sleep they have. They have it on their cell phones and they actually have goals so they’re in competition. They’re set up in groups and they compete. It’s changed our kids’ mindsets. They wear glasses to block out the blue light when they go to bed at night. If anyone is having a hard time sleeping at night and you’re on your phone, it’s usually going to take an hour longer for you to go to sleep. They wear these orange goggles that block out the blue light. It makes them sleepy. The mind tells your body it’s time to go to sleep and Allison [Maurer] has done a tremendous job of really kind of fostering this and championing this cause. They have sleep masks they wear to block out the sunlight. We’re trying to really educate them and provide them the means to really be able to rest and recover.”

(On why just 25 guys being monitored)
“Wanted to see how it went and then just manpower. Being able to see how that goes and see the benefits and then we’ll continue to expand that list.”

(On QB injuries and Quinten Dormady playing as #2 quarterback)
“Yes, you can never have enough quarterbacks. Both young quarterbacks have done a very good job, but Quinten Dormady is our number two quarterback. He is the number two quarterback. Sheriron [Jones] is progressing and he has to be ready. Sheriron is two snaps away from being in a game. You have to pick your spots in order to get him reps but Quinten has gained some very valuable repetitions. It is amazing with him to see the progress that he made in spring ball and the confidence that he gained and really be able to continue to grow on that. He’s playing at a high level right now. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. He will play and we have to make sure that he is ready to go. As we know, Sheriron has to be ready to go as well.”

(On key factors in deciding the number one punter) 
“Well consistency, you just spoke about it. Everything about being a great punter is consistency, and as we know field position is critical to playing great defense. Field position is critical to winning games. So the operation time of your punt team. You know our goal is 1.8 operation time, your kick placement, your landmarks, your hang time. Usually if you do a study, a punt team has 6.7 seconds to run down and make a tackle or force a fair catch. So, all that, that goes into it, the operation time, the hang time, the kick placement, and being able to play field position. Whether it’s pooch kicking, whether it’s coming out of your own end, the ability to flip field position. Usually we always talk about, if you have a strong kicking game, that’s usually always worth at least three points in a game.”

(On other options at punter) 
“We have not. We do have a wide receiver or two that will also punt for us, and do some different things that way as well.”

(On the Barnett and Maggitt relationship)

“We always talk about the power of the position, and you know it’s the power of nine, and being nine for nine in every position group taking responsibility to be the best that they can possibly be. Our chemistry in the defensive line room in general is outstanding. They hold each other accountable, they have very high expectations, and they do feed off one another, and they support one another, and they coach one another. So the great thing is, is your youngsters are learning from Curt. You know they’re learning from, even though he is still relatively inexperienced with one year, with Derek. They’re seeing that, they’re seeing that work ethic every day. That has been monumental for Kyle Phillips to be able to see. It’s been big for Shy Tuttle. It’s been big for Khalil McKenzie, and you can see them progressing each and every day, because of it Demarya Mixon has done a very good job this camp as well. So you can see that transforming on the field because it starts in that locker room it starts in that position meeting room.”

(On wide receivers punting)

“Stay tuned, you’ll have to find out. Thanks for being here, have a good day.”


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