KNOXVILLE (AP) — Creating competition and promoting a family environment are key initiatives for new Tennessee football coach Butch Jones.
Both were on display Saturday at Neyland Stadium when the Volunteers held their first scrimmage of spring practice and hosted a “Family Day.” Jones said the 2½-hour practice attracted 600 people, including current players’ families and many former Volunteers.
Tennessee’s fourth practice of the spring featured a unique scoring system that awarded points to either the offense or defense on every play of the scrimmage, and even in some of the individual drills. Jones assured “there’s a method to the madness.”
While he’s not pleased or satisfied yet, Jones said he’s seen great progress through one week of practice.
“We threw a lot on them today, and I think that they responded,” Jones said. “We still have a long ways to go, and it’s all about doing what it takes on a day-to-day basis. The effort, the intensity – that’s the big thing – the mental effort and mental intensity. That’s all your approach and how you approach things. That’s what we are working through right now.”
Quarterback Justin Worley got into a groove amid gusty conditions during the team session. Worley garnered praise from Jones for his leadership and game management.
“You always hear of quarterbacks getting into a rhythm and getting into the flow of the game and that’s what happened,” Worley said. “We started getting into our uptempo pace and had things rolling for a while.”
Worley, the Vols’ only quarterback with game experience, is competing with redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman for the starting job. Tyler Bray, last year’s starting quarterback, decided to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season.
On defense, Jones was concerned about the lack of stamina and leadership from the linemen.
“They have to learn how to play through fatigue right now,” he said. “We have too many hands on our hips, too many elbows on the knees, and that’s something that we’ll continue to work on.”