Vols Camp Report: Competitiveness and Tenacity

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee assistant coaches Bob Shoop, Larry Scott, Charlton Warren and Mike Canales spoke to reporters on Sunday after practice at Haslam Field.

The four assistants discussed what they have seen in these early days of camp in the ongoing position battles as well as the tenacity that they expect from their players.

Scott, who is in his first year as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, described the aggressive mindset and the precision he is trying to instill in the Vols’ offense.

“Everything is done with intentness and purpose,” Scott said. “Everything you do – whether it’s your step, whether it’s your hand placement, whether it’s being 15 minutes early for a meeting, whether it’s your preparation, whether it’s hydrating when you need to hydrate, being places when we need you to be there – all of those things speak to being able to have a hard edge, having some toughness, and having the ability to focus in times when I need you to focus. All of those things go into play from on the field to off it.”

When asked about the ongoing quarterback battle, Canales shared the traits he is looking for in a starting quarterback and the qualities he is trying to shape.

“It’s getting guys to feel your energy, to feel you,” Canales said. “There’s a great example with Tom Brady on leadership, with Peyton Manning on leadership. You watch how they play and you watch clips of their highlights. Watching Peyton Manning, his offense felt him, his players trusted him and they felt his presence. That’s what I’m trying to generate in the meeting room, what I’m trying to generate on the field. Your players have got to be able to feel you, your energy, your enthusiasm and your passion. When they get that and they trust you, they’ll play their butts off for you, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

“A lot of the intangibles are going to be different things – their work ethic, how they come out. Are they on the field when they step across the white line? Are they ready to go every single day? That’s what we’re looking for. We want those guys to set themselves apart, be an example and never a distraction, understand it’s all about us because it’s going to take all of us to get this thing done.”

With the graduation of former starters Cameron Sutton and Malik Foreman, cornerback is a position where either a returning player will have a larger role or a newcomer will earn playing time. Shoop said that he does not view the opportunities there as competition, but rather as depth development.

“We need to get guys experience,” Shoop said. “It’s not just players one through 11, but 12 through 22 and 23 through 33. Justin [Martin] is our most improved guy in the spring, Shaq [Wiggins] brings a veteran presence and Emmanuel [Moseley] is as much of a leader as we have in the group right there. As for the three freshman corners, they show the skill set and the drive and the want to be really good. I’m very, very pleased with all of those guys.”

Warren said that mistakes early in camp are to be expected. He is looking for strong effort, energy and tenacity from the freshmen defensive backs.

“I’m looking for ballhawks,” Warren said. “And if you make a mistake, I guess I want you to make it going 100 miles an hour. I don’t want the guys to hesitate. I don’t want the guys to throw their hands in the air and say, ‘Coach, I don’t get it.’ I want you to figure it out on the run. When in doubt, run fast and we’ll figure it out from there.”


Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop

(On Shaq Wiggins’ presence on the team)
“We’re glad Shaq is here. He’s a veteran and obviously he’s played in big games at Georgia and Louisville. He’s coming off an injury. I haven’t thrown him in there and anointed him the next Darrelle Revis or anything like that but we’ve put him in a position where he’s learning how we operate and how Charlton [Warren] wants things. He’s a talented player and he has just got to continue to do the things that are synonymous with Tennessee football and our culture.”

(On Colton Jumper’s growth)
“He’s more confident. Just the fact that he’s played in big games and had some success. He’s vocal and he has a great command for the entirety of the defense, not just what he does. He can solve and fix problems on the field like you’d hope a middle linebacker or safety would be able to do.”

(On Quart’e Sapp’s offseason development)
“It’s exciting to me. He’s built his body up. He’s fast, he’s hungry, he’s eager. As a good of a player as he is, he’s an even better person. We all just want to see him have success and through the first two days I haven’t seen anything about any hesitation or tentativeness. It seems like he’s picked up right where he would’ve left off last year at this time. What some people fail to realize sometimes is that we lost Sapp and Austin Smith [last year], they didn’t play at all once SEC play rolled around. Those were big losses as well.”

Offensive Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach Larry Scott

(On freshmen LaTrell Bumphus’ progress at tight end)
“He’s a project of mine, and every time I got my hands on him in the camp situation, it’s enough to make me believe he can develop and grow into that position and be a true wide-tight end. You’re talking about a 6-4, 260-pound freshman that can run and bend like a 220-pound guy. This guy was tracking fly balls in center field for his baseball team, so that’s pretty athletic for a big man.”

(On presence of veteran leaders among young offense)
“It’s always good to have some veteran players returning with experience. Not only to have players with experience, but guys that have played at that level and been successful at that level. These guys are very good examples of what we want from the young guys, how to prepare, how to practice. It’s one thing to go play a game but the truth is at this level, you got to learn how to practice. They have to learn how to prepare, and learn how to do all the little things that add up to Saturday when it’s time to go pass the test. They’ve already passed it on Tuesday, already passed it on Wednesday… It’s a process, and when you have good leaders, you got good guys to follow.”

(On young players’ development and approach to camp)
“It happens with young players where at some point, their approach and their level of being prepared either exposes itself as they’re not doing it, and they’re not mature enough to handle it, or they do. And I think you always have to just let that play out over time as we keep going… Some of these guys are going to be exposed, and whether it’s positive or negative, it’s going to come out.”

Defensive Back Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Charlton Warren

(On how he has seen Micah Abernathy’s improving technique)
“I tell you what, I really liked the fact that I didn’t have him in the spring due to injury. To see what he has done this summer and the extra work he has put in on his own, but to see him come out here and have a command of the defense in these early stages, and be able to get some guys lined up… He’s a guy that can play two or three positions, but he’s one of those veterans who is going to push everyone around him to be a better player. So I really like what I’m seeing from him.”

(On a potential starting line-up)
“There are no spots right now. Everyone is competing for a job. It doesn’t matter if you have played here for three years or three days, every practice matters. When we come to practice, the film of this fall camp will determine who will walk out with a one, two, and three, and that will be very fluid all throughout fall camp.”

Quarterbacks Coach Mike Canales

(On how the quarterbacks look behind the scenes and in the meeting room))
“I think they’ve been doing a great job because a lot of our meetings are like Jon Gruden’s Quarterback Camp. We get on the board, force them to get up on there and draw defenses, they have to talk what the defensive scheme is, they have to be able to explain it and they have to be able to talk the nomenclature of the defensive scheme and offensive scheme. They have to be able to tell me, like I’m a freshman, and that’s what I try to tell them; ‘You’re on the board, you have to explain it just like you’re a coach.’ And I think they’ve done a great job of doing that.”

(On how he handles the quarterback competition as a coach)
“Every day is a competition and I tell them, ‘Go out there and don’t compare, just compete. Just go out there and compete to be the best person that you were the day before. Don’t worry about beating someone else out or doing that. Just do your job on the field.’ Bill Belichick said it best – just do your job. One of our goals in our group is to lead, and then we want to make sure we’re an example and never a distraction. We want to make sure we get trust in our teammates, but we just have to go out and do our job. If we do our job and move the chains and move the ball and put the ball in the endzone, that’s leadership.”

One response to “Vols Camp Report: Competitiveness and Tenacity”

  1. I’m excited as always, more so this year because of the talent Jones has brought in. His hard work and long hours recruiting have really paid off. The last 4 years have been the best classes of recruits we have ever had in my 54 years of being a born Volunteer. I am really excited about the defense. Shoop should be able to pin his ears back and attack. I am unsure about what Moseley can bring to the table and I don’t mean to be pessimistic about him. But I have good reason to be. In my lifetime no other Vol has been penalized, burned or out of position more than him. But that was then and this is now and I hope he has a good season. Glad to hear Martin is looking good and Wiggins as well. Our defense is as deep and good as anybody in the country. And that has me feeling the butterflies in my stomach. Go Vols !

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