The Tennessee Vols continued camp at Milligan College in Johnson City, and the coaches seem pleased to this point.
The Vols have one more full day at Milligan before returning to campus to finish preparations for the August 31 opener against North Carolina State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.
With Vols training camp 12 days old, the coaching staff has made assessments of the roster for 2012. Here's a look at what members of the staff had to say about various individuals as camp at Milligan College has reached its penultimate day.
Jim Chaney on Tyler Bray's performance in training camp:
"I'm ok with that. I think he is working pretty hard, he's not throwing the ball to the wrong team and he's making better and better decisions so I'm comfortable with that. He and I are getting along fantastic. He and I have not been yelling at one another much lately. Like I said, I'm in a pretty good frame of mind right now. Our guys are doing what we ask them to do and they are responding to what we want them to do so I'm good with that."
Jim Chaney on his relationship with Tyler Bray:
"I haven't changed. I would think it has a lot to do with everybody maturing and everybody getting to know one another. I think I know him a lot better and he knows me. Expectations are through the roof with that young man. I think he is a wonderful football player and anytime he comes out and underachieves he should feel bad about that. Thus far, he's been pretty conscious of that and it hasn't happened a lot."
Jim Chaney on Justin Worley:
"I think Justin is figuring out what type of quarterback he is. He is a rhythm-throwing football player that we really enjoy when he stays in rhythm. We are trying to force him to work on some weaknesses and he is aware of those and constantly working on them. I like a kid when you tell him his weaknesses that he goes to work on them and that is what Worley is doing right now and he's doing it at a really good rate. When he is out there and he is playing he is performing at a good rate and not making mistakes. That's all you ask for from a quarterback. I'm tickled to death with how Justin is performing and I think he is going to be a really good football player."
Jim Chaney on the quarterbacks:
"I love that quarterback room. I think there are good kids in there that can all play at a high level of football and I'm glad they are in our room."
Jim Chaney on Rajion Neal and Devrin Young leading the running back battle:
"I think it is too early to finalize anything like that but I am pleased with where they are competing and if we had to go play tomorrow I think that is where they would line up. Coach [Dooley] makes those decisions but that would be my recommendation right now. We are a long way from the first game and I think Marlin [Lane] had a pretty doggone good day out there today and I think he will have something to say about that before it is all said and done."
Jay Graham on Rajion Neal:
"He did some good things but there were also something's to improve on. So we went in the film room and talked about those things. I think he took it hard and this week in practice he has been doing a pretty good job. Every day you have to work to get better. He has done that so far. I think he has been really consistent mentally, understanding the plays and working really hard on his technique. He is doing a good job so far."
Jay Graham on Quenshaun Watson:
"He is a freshman. He did some good things, the long run. And then he did some things that he needs to work on. He is starting to understand the offense. This week has been a lot better for him. I think that run was good for him as far as confidence to know he can do it. Now he is just continue to become more physical and understand the technique of running the ball. It is a whole lot different than running against the high school defense he ran against. He is starting to learn."
Jay Graham on Devrin Young:
"I am pushing him be in that pass protection. Pushing him to do all the things that he has to do to be an every down back. I think it is important for it. He can make plays in open field and he can make plays in between the tackles, just making sure he does everything it takes for a running back to be successful in this offense. Devin with his change in direction and different things. He is exciting in open field. We are doing everything we can to get him in the open field. He is doing a good job of understanding the plays, understanding the offense and how he fits in."
Jay Graham on Alden Hill
"He is doing a good job. He is working hard on understanding that with the reps he gets he has to really be on top of things when he is watching things. When he gets in there he is starting to understand our offense a whole lot more."
Jim Chaney on Justin King:
"It's the same old thing. You talk to those young kids who have never played a position and throw them in there. He flashes like the rest of these kids. Sometimes he does something nice and sometimes he goes the wrong way. It's too early to talk about him."
Jim Chaney on the running game:
"I think some of the statistics in training camp can be so misleading. We have our moments where a play looks clean and we block it and then the next time we don't block it well and they make a mistake and the stats look good. We are doing better. We are trying to be more physical at the ball and securing the ball pretty well so I'm happy with where we are at right now. Are we the greatest running team in football history? No, but I think we are an improved football team in running the ball from previous years."
Jim Chaney on the young receivers:
"I'd put them all in that little ball that they flash. Occasionally one of them will make a good play, another one will make a good play and occasionally one of them will run the wrong route completely. They are young kids and we are a long way away from playing a football game. It will be exciting to see how they continue to develop."
Jim Chaney on what he wants Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers to improve on:
"I'd like to see them get away from any mental mistakes when it comes to lining up right. I think 90 percent of playing wide receiver is lining up right and shoving off the ball. When they grasp that 90 percent of their job is those two things, I will be a happy man. I think they still have their mistakes. There hasn't been a perfect practice yet so I continue to strive for that but it is much better than it has been."
Jim Chaney on Cordarrelle Patterson:
"I don't feel like he is behind any of the other newcomers and that month he had here in the summer with the other kids seems to have worked out pretty good. I'm pleased with where he is at."
Darin Hinshaw on Jason Croom:
"Jason Croom is doing a good job. We have to get him to play faster. The speed of the game is obviously faster here than in high school and you have to learn to play at a different speed all the time. [You have to] be able to learn to come back and recover quickly and then be able to give everything you've got at full speed, recover quickly and be able to do that every single play."
Darin Hinshaw on Cordarrelle Patterson:
"His understanding of the offense has gotten a lot better. It's always tough [choosing players]. Obviously, he is an older newcomer, coming in as a junior, but he has more maturity and he's learning at a higher rate. He understands football really well."
Darin Hinshaw on Cody Blanc:
"Cody Blanc is working mainly on the slot. He's a 205-pound kid, actually came in at 211 pounds. We feel like he has that kind of strength to be able to play in there and he has the quickness and the speed to be able to do that."
Darin Hinshaw on Zach Rogers:
"Zach Rogers is a guy that's fast that can play in there and run all those kinds of routes. We're going to move everyone around a lot to play those slot positions and the outside position based on how things are going and based on play."
Darin Hinshaw on Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers:
"You don't see many missed assignments by those two. They're old guys, they're leaders. They're really working hard. Da'Rick Rogers is working hard every snap and is getting better every snap. He understands the situation. Justin Hunter is doing the same thing. I'm really proud of how those guys are working. They're really teaching the young guys how to practice, how you go. You go full speed, and then what happens is that you do it in practice and all of a sudden on Saturday, it's going to happen."
Charlie Coiner on Mychal Rivera
"Mychal is out here running around a little bit and I am obviously glad to see that and he is too. He has been chomping at the bit to get out here but we are trying to get him back at the right pace."
Jim Chaney on generating depth at tight end:
"We went through Mych's knee and then Bart had a little strained hamstring, so we've battling that and trying not to kill Downs while we are doing it. We've moved Joe in and Joe is doing a lot better since we moved him in. It's been ok. We're doing alright. It's training camp right now so those things go without saying."
Jim Chaney on Brendan Downs:
"He's done great. He's played a lot of positions and has been moving around everywhere. He's here every day, he's a workhorse, he has a great demeanor when he comes out on the football field and I love him. He plays hard and you can trust him on the football field to give you everything he's got. That's all you look for in a football players."
Jim Chaney on scheming around tight end with wide receivers:
"I think that any football staff would like to put your 11 best players out on the field. If your tight end is considerably less than the 11 best then you might consider that. I don't feel like we are that way. We like to run the ball with the tight end in there in a pro-style offense."
Charlie Coiner on Other Tight Ends
"(Ben) Bartholomew and Brendan (Downs) have carried the workload. But we have tried to be careful there. It is always dangerous if someone is out for a couple of weeks and you overwork the two or three left and you look up and you have three guys injured in a month. We have tried to take that time while Mychal was healing and bring on some young guys Justin King, Joe Ayres and take a look at them. That is painful at times because they don't know the offense, they are going to make mistakes but I will take the pain now instead of the pain in September and October."
Sam Pittman on the offensive's line play:
"I think we are getting better. You know we have a long way to go, but we are playing physical. We are doing that. We are coming off the football quickly so far."
Jim Chaney on Mack Crowder:
"He's doing fine. Unfortunately, Mack had to go against 'Man Mountain' (Daniel McCullers) a little bit early in camp. My goodness, it takes seven good people to push him around. Mack has had a good camp. He's doing really good and developing just exactly the way we thought he would. He's a smart kid, he leads the offensive line when he is out there on the field, his snaps are consistent and we're pleased with his development. We just have to continue to force-feed him in there and put him in situations he's never been in and watch him grow. He's like a little flower. You just keep watering it and it will blossom someday into something really pretty."
Sam Pittman on Mack Crowder:
"Mack has played fast. Obviously, he is fitting better. He has a big heart and a big desire to play the game, and works his butt off all the time. He is not really even the same kid he was in the spring, and we are real proud of how he has developed."
Jim Chaney on Kyler Kerbyson and Alan Posey:
"They have their moments. They are young kids who are continuing to develop. We are pleased with where they are at. They just need to continue to strain a little harder and learn what it takes to play at this level of football, but we are optimistic that those things are going to come around."
Sam Pittman on how Marcus Jackson has done:
"He is a good player number one. He has played physical and very talented. He is smart and he hasn't been busting and making missed assignments and things of that nature. He is a guy that fortunately got in games last year so he knows how to play the game. He has shown that he can do it so if he is in there we are not worried a bit."
Sam Pittman on who would be next into the game if there was an injury at tackle:
"It is hard to say right now with I don't know how much longer we have two-and-a-half weeks left, but Dallas Thomas is a great possibility and obviously a reliable guy to go out at the tackle spot. We can do that. Marcus Jackson is a guy we would have a zero problem with putting into a game as a guard. Of course, Mack Crowder we feel real solid about playing him at a center spot. Alex Bullard is a guy we haven't quite figured out what positions to hone him in on. We have worked him in a couple of positions this spring. We know he can play center, but we are trying to allow ourselves to have a little more depth at the guard and tackle spot on the right side by using him over there."
Jim Chaney on having more depth at guard and center than tackle:
"First let me say that is always the case and never changes. It takes a unique being to be able to have the range, speed, athleticism and mass to play tackle. That's why they go high in the draft and guards don't. It's a difficult animal to find. We're comfortable that we have a few kids we can put out there and play. James [Stone] has been playing center but he has had his share at tackle and Alex [Bullard] is now playing some tackle and we're moving him back-and-forth at guard. Dallas has played tackle, Tiny [Richardson] has played tackle and Ja'Wuan has played tackle. We've had kids in our football program that have been out there on the edge and have to play. Now Kyler (Kerbyson) and Alan Posey are doing it but they are young kids."
Sal Sunseri on Darrington Sentimore:
"The guy that has really come in here and done a fantastic job is [Darrington] Sentimore. He has come in, he is in better shape, and he is being very reckless with his body. I am extremely proud of him the way he has been practicing, kind of setting the tone for the defense. I think his level of maturity has gotten so much better. The kid knows now exactly what to do, how to do it, and why he is doing it. He is doing it at a pace that is extremely fast which is very disruptive. I am excited about him and I think he is understanding the game more. He isn't just going out there and doing his own stuff, he knows where he has to be. I am extremely proud of the kid. He has lost about 15 or 20 pounds since spring ball and it has made a difference for him."
Sal Sunseri on Maurice Couch:
"I just like Mo. Mo is an active guy. He has had a good camp and we want to get him on the field. He has the ability to make plays. When you are on this type of defense you are looking for playmakers so after practice we chart number of tackles, number of tackles for a loss, and he has been one of the most productive players. So if you are going to be productive you are going to play in this defense."
Sal Sunseri on Daniel McCullers:
"Dan has a long way to go. I am just telling you this, Dan is a big body in there and his has done a great job. Mo has been an active guy in there and made some plays so we are going to put guys on the field who can make plays. It doesn't matter what year you are at. If you come in here and you can contribute and take care of business, you can play in this game."
Sal Sunseri on Corey Miller:
"I have seen Corey stepping up here and he is doing some pretty good things. He is going to be involved in the front seven. I look at him as being a pretty good pass rusher so he has done a pretty good job at that. He could play any place, he could play end, he could play JACK, he could play a three technique, I could move him around all over."
Sal Sunseri on Herman Lathers:
"I think his maturity is probably the most important thing. He is a guy who is very smart and very sharp so his leadership skills are very important. He is going to get people lined up and he is going to be able to make plays. It has been a grueling camp. The guy has been going pretty good. We are going to work through it and see what we can get done. When you go and you play this game a lot of it is mental toughness. A lot of it is playing in the heat, playing in the cold, and playing when you don't want to play, playing when your body is aching and everything. That is part of the game; it is just being mentally tough. Saying, 'I am not giving in; I am going to take care of my job.'
Sal Sunseri on Curt Maggitt & A.J. Johnson:
"Maggitt and AJ have done a great job. In the back end."
Sal Sunseri on Jacques Smith:
"I think we have seen Jacques grow up a little bit and find it is more than going out there and trying to make plays. It is him being responsible, him being on the proper edge. What he is finding out is when he is on a proper edge and everybody else's ball usually bounce to him. He has done a real nice job."
Josh Conklin on Brian Randolph:
"Obviously the expectations are high for him and you want to see him produce at the high level. I think those are things that you saw at the first scrimmage. Like you said last time, the challenge to him was step it up and I think he is trying to do that all the time. It is not only Brian Randolph but it is everybody. The expectations are really high for that group. What we do schematically, those guys have to have opportunities to make big plays and when they have those opportunities they need to make them. Brian is a really instinctive guy and has a knack for being in the right position at the right times. He does a really good job of hunting the football in the run and the pass game. I think we have taken little things in his techniques and his fundamentals and made him a little bit tighter in the footwork and route concepts and how he is reading wide receiver releases. He has gotten much better and I think we are going to see an opportunity to make some big plays with that."
Josh Conklin on other safeties:
"(Competition) is still wide open. I have told Brent [Brewer], Bryon [Moore] and Rod Wilks that. I view those guys as ones, one and a halfs if you can say that. They are all vying for positions and I think the next scrimmage when they come out we want to see some major separation. We want to see some guys separate and we can say these are going to be the guys in certain defensive packages and personnel groupings."
Derrick Ansley on Prentiss Waggner:
"Prentiss is solid as a rock. He is a professional. He carries himself well on and off the field. He is a guy you don't have to worry about doing the right thing. He is definitely leading in the right direction, and we need to get some more guys to follow him."
Derrick Ansley on Marsalis Teague's confidence:
"We don't talk about last year. Last year is last year. Marsalis has done a good job in the spring buying into the program and buying into what we are trying to do defensively and what we are trying to do schematically. He has done a very good job being a leader this summer and getting the younger guys to buy into what we are trying to do. He has been a pleasant surprise back there as far as being a great leader and competing every day."
Derrick Ansley on Naz Oliver:
"Naz is full speed as far as we know. He has been out here every day and he's competed. He has done a great job on special teams and trying to find a home at corner. He is just like anybody else. He is competing, getting reps and running with the twos and sometimes running with the threes. We all are just trying to get the best guys on the field. He has done a great job as far as coming back and being healthy so far."
Derrick Ansley on seeing rust in Oliver due to injury:
"He didn't play much last year, and he is a highly regarded guy coming out of New Jersey. So he has a lot of ability and explosive power. He is really heavy handed when he puts his hand on people and he is a competitor. All of those elements are good for what we want to do at corner.
Derrick Ansley on who will play the Star position:
"We have a couple of guys. Obviously, you have to have depth at every position. That position is a position of its own. It has its own life and identity. We have a couple of guys we are trying to develop and nobody is a starter. Eric [Gordon] obviously played there last year and so did Byron Moore. We have a lot of guys to try there to see who is the best fit."
Charlie Coiner on Raiques Crump and Dontavis Sapp:
"I want to preface this by saying that they aren't the only ones, but the two that jump out at me [Raiques] Crump and [Dontavis] Sapp. They do a good job, they take it seriously, the have been staples at least since I have got here. I watched the video when I got here and they were on it last year. We have a lot of guys that are going to fit into that this year and potentially a lot of young guys, but Crump and Sapp are two guys that I watch every time we come out here. It is not like they are over there drinking water during defense, they bust their hump over there too. But when they come to our meetings they are two of the staples, but not the only two staples."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JIM CHENEY
(On training at Milligan College)
"Let me talk about this experience up here. It's been fantastic. Our staff, we've had a wonderful time. As assistant coaches, it's kind of fun to get away and do this. The kids have really worked hard so we're tickled. It's been a great experience. I have enjoyed it and I think the guys have too."
(On the last few days of practice)
"We've had some very good practices. Last night was very competitive. It got interesting. There were some good football players out there flying around to the football so that was fun. Today we came out a little sluggish but we got a little better as the day went on. I'm pleased with where we are at right now."
(On the offense as a unit)
"(I'm most pleased about) the maturity of this group. They are coming out and going to work most every day. Sometimes you have to jumpstart them a little bit, but it seems like in previous years it has been a constant jumpstart. They seem a little more mature, more determined to be good and I've enjoyed that."
(On his concerns with the offense)
"If I were to say there is something I am concerned with it is trying to get all the depth you need. Trying to continue to develop young depth with the young kids to be able to able to step in and play if they need to and their ability to learn the offense. You always want them to learn a lot faster than they can. That's the one thing, I wish the young kids would know a little bit more and study a little harder, but we were all young once and I think it is typical."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR SAL SUNSERI
(On being at Milligan College)
"I think it has been a fantastic experience. The kids have come up here and we have been by ourselves. We have been able to focus strictly on football. IT has been a lot of great concentration. It has been hard and been demanding. It has been football, football. They are reaping the rewards and benefits from it.
(On the defense)
"I think the thing is they are understanding some concepts that we are trying to do. We have found some people that can rush the quarterback; we found some people who can cover. They are just doing a nice job right now. We are also trying to get better at the basic fundamentals every single day. They are working on it, they are concentrating on it. So it has been pretty good."
(On being away for camp speeding up the learning process)
"Absolutely because they are focused, you getting more meeting times. There are less distractions. These kids, they go to eat, they come back, they have meetings, they go practice, they go eat, and they are back in meetings. It is a constant focus, 24-hour football. They are able to sustain it, they are able to apply it, that has been the best part about it. It has been a great trip. The people up here at Milligan have taken great care of us. They are great facilities. I am excited to be up here. I have enjoyed it thoroughly. It has been nice."
CORNERBACKS COACH DERRICK ANSLEY
(On describing the Star position)
"It is more of a linebacker, corner, safety mentality all combined into one because you have to do a lot of things with that position. It is one of the toughest positions to master because you ask for all they have because they have to be in run fix and pass game."
(On returning a number of players who have game experience)
"The SEC is the toughest conference in college football so anytime you have guys who are coming back that have been in there with live bullets and in the fire a little bit, that is always welcome. The guys we have back there, a lot of them experience, some of them have multiple-game experience and some have multiple-year experience as starters. So, all that experience is going just to trickle down to the young guys and help those guys come along faster."
(On the toughness of the defense)
"I don't believe in a guy not being physical or not tough or whatever the case may be. You get what you demand as a coach so we demand our guys to be physical and tough on defense so that is what we are going to get. A guy is going to do that or a guy isn't going to play."
SPECIAL TEAMS/TIGHT ENDS COACH CHARLIE COINER
(On special teams)
"We are very comfortable. I have mentioned before that Coach Dooley is heavily involved with special teams. We don't pay any less attention to details with special teams than we do offense and defense here. We go over and over the depth chart because your depth chart is bigger. Your pool is bigger in special teams. You have your offense and defense and that is what you got. We go in everyday and look for answers and it could be on either side of the ball. There are more opportunities to try a guy out. Coach is pretty adamant about needing to find guys who can do it as early as we can because you want to be working with the right people. We feel like we could be in a good place. It is never over, there is always an evolution going on about who is going to be in there because you have injuries in the mix. But we do a lot of work with personnel and I feel really good about where we are right now."
(On younger players on special teams)
It happens, especially with young guys. I think when you grow up two things happen. First you realize what a big part of the game it is. I think everybody sees that in college and I think if you really look at it you can find it a lot in the NFL. I also think that people understand that it might be their ticket individually. There are plenty of people that play on Sundays and that is what they do. They are on special teams and they are the fourth or fifth receiver, the sixth or seventh DB and that is what they do. We preach that here. It might be a young guy who's time is coming but you have a junior or senior in front of you and you are just not there yet, but this is your place and its football.
RUNNING BACKS COACH JAY GRAHAM
(On what it means for the team to travel away for camp)
"The thing I like about it is, you don't have a lot of free time when you are in Knoxville but with the little time that they have, they are spending time together. You don't have the outside things factoring in to it. Guys are spending time together and getting to know each other and become close. It has been good for me, it has been good for the players."
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH SAM PITTMAN
(On being comfortable with offensive-line personnel)
"I am real comfortable with it. I don't think you coach everybody the same. You have to coach some guys a little different because their athletic ability allows them to be coached a bit different. I know what our guys need and I feel like I know how to coach them how to get that success out of them."
(On the offensive line embracing playing more physical now)
"I think we have always tried to play physical. We are doing some things different technique wise and things of that nature. We are harping on trying to play fast. Obviously with fast feet, you are going to have more power so we are trying to speed up everything so we can be more powerful."