NCAA Football

Postgame Quotes: White 44, Orange 29

April 22, 2017

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April 22, 2017

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Butch Jones, Head Coach

(Opening statement)
“First of all, our in-game operations did a good job of keeping us posted throughout the day and the spring game to let us know what was going on. I would like to thank our fans. You all are amazing. We had 35,000 people despite the weather conditions. We had families waiting in line since 5:30 this morning for the autograph sessions. I’d like to say thank you to them.

“We came out, and I liked the way we competed for a spring game. You always want a clean game. You don’t want to have turnovers or penalties, so that part was great. The thing that is invaluable that you can’t coach until you are in an in-game situation is the game management, such as substitutions. It was great for our players and coaches as well. Those are things that our players did a good job of handling. I think it was a very clean spring game.

“This team has taken major steps [this spring], but we still have a lot of work to do. It starts with getting back to the weight room and getting bigger and stronger and continuing to build team chemistry. We held 20 players out today. Some were precautionary reasons. Some were post-surgical reasons.

“It was great to have all our Vols For Life back. All eras were represented, and it was great to have our former players show up like they had been. I thought it was a great day. Unfortunately, it was cut short, but I liked the way our players competed.”

(On the quarterback’s progress this spring)
“They made tremendous progress. We talked all spring long about don’t compare just compete. I think a lot of times younger players have the tendency to look over their shoulders and focus on what the other individuals are doing instead of themselves. I thought they competed all spring, and I thought that was evident today. The quarterback challenge is a great measuring stick for us when they go out there. We can see how they respond when all eyes are on them. There aren’t 10 other players on the field. I’ve been pleased with the quarterback position all spring. Going into the summer months, the evolution of Team 121 will be doing a good job of continuing to grow and build on momentum. Most progress occurs during the summer months in terms of leadership and getting the details, accountability and toughness.”

(On the timeframe of naming a starter)
“There is no timeframe. I want them to compete. Competition is extremely healthy, and they’ve all elevated their games because of it. I want them to compete. We have no timetable. I was really pleased with the way they competed today. I thought the receivers caught the ball well. But again, there is no timetable.”

(On naming the award winners)
“It was probably the most difficult spring we’ve had. We let the players decide on most of them. I think it starts with your unsung heroes, your walk-ons, who bring it every day. We had a number of individuals that made it through all 15 practices. If you look at Quay Picou, his momentum started right from the time Coach Rock got here in the weight room. That process started in January, and he’s now pound-for-pound one of the strongest players we have on our football team. We wanted to see if that would translate to the football field. We saw that start to occur. When you look at the leadership awards, John Kelly is one of those individuals who brings it every day. Darrell Taylor is another individual who is growing into a leadership role. It gets back to helping others get better with no agenda. For the 63 Award, Marquez Callaway has done a great job. Jakob Johnson and Justin Martin were the Most Improved. Justin was consistent in his performance all spring. He is going to be very driven every single day. It’s been great to see his maturation at the defensive back position.”

(On if anyone has an edge in the quarterback competition)
“No, the great thing is that every day you get the opportunity to better yourself. I feel comfortable with all of our quarterbacks. I thought they progressed exceptionally well. They just need to continue to do that and compete on a daily basis and not worry about anything else. They don’t need to let clutter or distractions get in the way. They’ll be just fine.”

(On who won the quarterback challenge)
Quinten Dormady won it. He’s had live-game repetitions, and that is hard to simulate. Jarrett [Guarantano] has done a great job of being a student of the game, and I think all the quarterbacks have benefited from Joshua Dobbs and his approach every single day. I am really pleased with the position group.”

(On the QB battle and how the team can get better during the summer)
“Well, It’s on them. That’s where the ownership kicks in. They will run all of our throwing sessions. To me, that’s when you really find out. And a lot of times the players will decide who the quarterback is by the way they rally around them. It’s a great opportunity for them from a leadership standpoint. We will put a lot on their shoulders. It’s player-led workouts. So again, to me, that’s the exciting thing, and I think they have a great base for that. That will be a part of the evaluation tool. In terms of the roster, the great thing is the players understand the standard and the expectations. One of the great things I’ve been pleased with this spring is the way they have coached each other. Even the individuals that were held out of spring, the way they coached the young players. We welcomed five high school seniors in here mid-year, and they have done a really good job of mentoring them and guiding them. So again, I’ve been pleased with the older players. We’re going to have to rely on some younger players in particular position groups, but again I’ve liked the way that they approach every single day. That’s what we talk about, consistency and approach. Being the best version of you every single day. I think our players have been able to do that.”

(On this team’s narrative of how much they have lost from last season)
“Well I think, however you want to describe it, the word would be opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of players that maybe haven’t had the opportunity in the past. That’s the great thing about college football, a third of your roster turns over every single year. So within that turnover, it’s new leadership opportunities, new roles; some individuals were role players on special teams, (now their) roles have expanded. That’s what makes college football very special. We’re going to have to rely on some true freshmen as well. This is a football team that works. They don’t consider outside noises and what people think, they just come to work every single day. And again, we’re going to need that mentality and we’re going to need that focus. Obviously we lost a lot of production, but I’m proud of these seniors who have left the program, and their lives are about to change in another week. You look how far we’ve come and you know, draft weekend is going to be very special here at Tennessee.”

(On the wide receivers and the offensive line this spring)
“Well you mentioned Jauan at the wide receiver position. I think he had a great and consistent spring. I think he did some really good things. I think he improved his craft. There is going to be a number of individuals who are all youngsters, so every rep they get is going to be valuable. I think Marquez Callaway had as good of a spring as anyone on our football team. He was consistent. He practiced (in practices) 1-15, and he continued to grind and get better. We asked a lot of him in terms of reps. He had the highest rep count on the team. Latrell Williams is growing up right now, so for him to get the valuable reps during (practices) 1-15 was very critical. In moving forward, it will be great to get Brandon Johnson back in June. I think he adds another dynamic to the receiving core. Getting Josh Smith back will help us as well. I think that entire group continued to grow and get better, but we will be extremely young there.”

(On the progress of this spring)
“Yeah, you know, when you look back, we just went through the exit interview process and every position coach met with their players. First of all, we talked about details, accountability and toughness. Everyone was graded in those three areas. I think the first thing that we accomplished is we had some individuals gain repetitions that were critical. Alexis Johnson, every rep he gains is critical. Darrell Taylor, a more expanded role. Before holding Jonathan Kongbo out, moving him back to defensive end. Paul Bain, inside. Quay Picou, we talked about him. These are all individuals that played sparingly, so for them to get the volume of repetitions that they did was critical. I think in the linebacker position, getting Austin Smith back out there, getting Daniel Bituli valuable reps, and having Justin Martin continue to improve like he has, was very critical. Nigel Warrior in the back end of our defense is critical. Marquez Callaway, the two quarterbacks in Quinton and Jarrett. Also the offensive line, that’s going to be a position that is going to be extremely competitive when you add Trey Smith and how far he has come. Jashon Robertson is a model of stability, and he can play a number of positions for us. Marcus Tatum, you can see his body looks different. He’s 280+ pounds, and we will have him at 295 by the start of training camp. We spoke about Drew Richmond, and he continues to gain reps. To me, when we started out, it was getting those game-live reps and getting these individuals through practices 1-15, and I think that was an accomplishment. We still have to get stronger and more physical. We need to start taking the ball away a little more defensively and get ball disruptions whether it’s tipped balls or anything.”

Quinten Dormady, QB

(On his spring game performance)

“The goal is to go out and complete every ball and for the team to score points. I think as a team we did a good job and we executed very well. I couldn’t be happier.”

(On if his previous experience gives him an edge in the QB competition)

“As coach Jones says, every rep is valuable, so I’m not going to say it hurts. Playing in games and getting to play in front of that many people, I’d definitely say it’s an advantage.”

(On how he has grown from having a coach for a father)

“I think it’s helped a lot. Growing up around the game learning every little detail from things like fronts, linebacker levels, coverages and everything. I definitely think it’s helped me progress (as a QB) at a faster rate.”

(On if he thinks he’s a better athlete than people perceive)
“Yeah, I definitely do. I don’t think I get much credit for being athletic, I don’t know why. But I think I’ve proven I can move the ball however it needs to be moved. So I think I am more athletic than people believe.”

Jashon Robertson, OL

(On the versatility of the offensive line)
“It’s reps in certain scenarios that maybe never would have presented themselves otherwise without a guy going down. You never want that, but in reality it does (happen), and it has plenty of times before, as we all know. The opportunity to play different positions increases the versatility of our line.”

(On comparing guard versus center)
“I’d say to this point I’m more comfortable playing guard. But am I better at one or the other? Honestly, I think that’s for the coaches to decide. I’ve enjoyed the process of playing center and the learning curve of learning the footwork and calls I’ve really enjoyed. But at the end of the day when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter where they place me. I just want to be placed in the best position to help the team win.”

Quay Picou, DL

(On the second half of the spring game getting rained out)
“The guys, we don’t really pay attention to all that. We had fun out there together. We competed and had a good time. You can never go wrong with having a good time.”

(On his goals for the summer)
“There are plenty of things you could say you want to focus on, and I’m not trying to sound like everybody else, but I honestly just want to get better at everything. Getting in better shape – I want to drop my body fat percentage and just really get stronger.”

(On winning the John Stucky award)
“That shows a lot, shows how much the guys care about you. When you think no one is paying attention, someone is always watching. I’ve always been taught that, that someone is always watching. I appreciate the award, I’m grateful for it. The award just shows that with hard work things are starting to come together.”

Justin Martin, DB

(On interacting with fans before the spring game)
“I thought we got enough time to interact. It means a lot to us for the fans to come and stand around all day and all morning just to get autographs and to meet us.”

(On what clicked for him this spring)
“It is my last year, and I knew I could do it. I knew I was talented and capable enough to do it. Just getting a fresh start with the coaching staff and coach (Charlton) Warren is a good coach.”

(On getting the most improved defensive player award)
“They didn’t tell me before the game that I was getting it, I was excited. I was glad that I got an award.”

Marquez Callaway, WR

(On how he performed in the spring)
“I felt like I did what I was supposed to do. I came out with a mindset to get better everyday. My wide receiver buddies pushed me. The offense and defense came everyday to make us better. It all works hand in hand, so I feel like we all got better.”

(On clicking with Coach Beard)
“I do. Coach Beard came in and just has a different philosophy. Overall, it’s the same just different for the better.”

(On how he feels about his spring performance and winning the 63 award)
“I just tried to go out and show the coaches what I was capable of, as well as the other receivers did too. I felt like I had to prove myself worthy to get the starting job, and it just goes back and forth, but I try and go out every week that I am capable of it.”

(On motivation for opportunity at WR)
“It’s a lot of young guys out there. So Jauan and Josh Smith, although he’s hurt he is still out there helping, so we do have older guys and receivers in other positions, but the older guys are always pushing us. So even though we are young, we think young doesn’t mean anything. We go out there and show them that we can do it, and that we can play with anybody in the SEC.”

Jarrett Guarantano, QB

(On competition between quarterbacks)
“One common goal for the quarterback position was just focus on the team and making the team better. Of course you go day by day and realize the competition and that you want to win starting job, but each and every day is a new day, and we have to focus our style of play, the offense and the team.”

(On how he thinks the spring game went)
“I feel fine. I think we all had a pretty good day. I don’t know what the stats were, but I know Quinten did really well. There was a play where I kind of got undercut on a play. But we will definitely focus on that and get better at that.”

(On how he feels spring practice went)
“I think this spring was a great learning experience for me. There were definitely a lot of new things that I didn’t get a chance to run and get done last year. So it was good learning reps and also good repetition with just going with the first and second team on times. Going into the summer, the focus is just to continue to get better, continue to work with film study, and just try to get live reps and reps on air and all those types of things.”

(On how much he felt he was able to show of himself today)
“There were limitations today. We didn’t really have any quarterback run game, we didn’t have any of that, we had short whistles, we had different things that I’m able to do, extend plays that I wasn’t able to do today. But once again, I think today was a great day for me and all the rest of the quarterbacks. I think we had a chance to compete and go against the defense and just show people that Team 121 is here.”

(On how far along he thinks he is in the quarterback competition)
“Each practice was a new day for me, a new practice for me just in a sense of there were new things that were going to pop up every day and those new things that I might have made a mistake on or just got by with a completion or any of those type of things. They help me, and I know that in the future each practice, as practices went on and on, the coaches and the guys were able to see that I wasn’t making the same mistakes, and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the system.”

Austin Smith, LB

(On comparing now to freshman year)
“Freshman year I was just playing off of pure talent. Playing off pure talent and really not (being) taken seriously. Now I am in the film room almost every day with Colton (Jumper) or Cortez McDowell asking questions every day. Asking questions like, ‘Why are we doing this? ‘Why are we setting the front that way?’ Pretty much everything. So asking more questions and being more confident to ask questions and just being able to retain the information and then go home and being more mature and going over to the field by myself. If I have a question, then I will call them up. It might be 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 p.m. at night, but at least I am giving the effort to learn the plays. I would say that is the biggest jump from freshman year to this year.”

(On the feeling being back at linebacker)
“I believe that God does everything for a reason. God has blessed me with a talent, so it really wasn’t that I didn’t feel at home. Being more physical with my hands, which helps me at the linebacker spot because at defensive end you need to have physical hands or else you will get knocked off the ball. So like I said, I believe that God does everything for a purpose which really has helped me be more physical at linebacker and really using my hands at the position.”

(On how competitive the linebacker position has been)
“(It’s) very competitive, but it is a good competition though. Every day in the weight room me, Cortez (McDowell), Daniel Bituli, all of the guys who play linebacker. It is a standard. It is a standard especially since Jalen Reeves-Maybin has left. There is a standard to be great and just to have fun. So it is every day in the weight room, classroom, and of course, being in conditioning. So it is a competition every day.”

Tyler Byrd, WR

(On his spring performance)
“I would say there’s a lot of room to improve. With a new coach at wide receiver, we had to learn new stuff. Again, just adding things to our tool belt. I think it was pretty good overall from the receiver group, and I think we all need to work to use this off time to get better instead of dialing it down.”

(On getting used to Coach Beard’s style)
“It didn’t take long because everyone is invested. It has the level of maturity to where we have to go out and work at this – to get better at it. I think that’s ultimately what led us to do better quickly.”

(On the work mentality of this team)
“I think the mentality comes from Coach Jones himself. He harps on it. You have to have a sense of player-led leadership. The older guys saying, ‘This is what we need to do. This is how we have to work,’ and setting the expectation and tone for the younger guys. Also for the incoming freshmen that they know the tone too and the standard the University of Tennessee plays.”

Darrell Taylor, DL

(On accomplishments this spring)
“I accomplished what I wanted, but I still have to work on a lot of things.”

(On summer goals)
“I’m trying to get better with all of my techniques. I’m trying to get stronger and faster as we go into summer workouts and camp.”

(On the mentality going into the season)
“I think the mentality is different because we don’t have the same type of talent we had before, but I think the expectations are the same. You have got to bring the same energy, same intensity, all of that, but I think we have a lot of good talent. We will do a lot of good things this year.”

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