No. 25 Vols Work On Situational Football On Monday

Jones Wants UT To Nail Down Discipline To Execute

Monday, August 21, 2017 - by Larry Fleming
- photo by UT Athletics

Tennessee held Monday morning's fall camp practice at Neyland Stadium as coach Burch Jones and the Vols, who are ranked No. 25 in the preseason Associated Press poll, focused on situational football.

"Right now, we have to have the discipline to execute," Jones said.

"Football is too hard of a game as it is from the technical aspect of things, from fundamentals, effort techniques and winning your one-on-one matchups let alone being a team that jumps offsides or a team that doesn't take care of the football. All those things come down to discipline, execution and having that ability.

"We had four straight days of intense football and I liked our approach and the way we came out, but there are way too many mental mistakes right now with this football team."

Jones, senior cornerback Justin Martin and sophomore receiver Brandon Johnson spoke to reporters after practice.

Earning Their Stripes

Defensive back Cheyenne Labruzza earned the removal of his black helmet stripe over the weekend and running back Tim Jordan earned his on Monday. Both are freshmen.

Martin praised Labruzza, saying "Cheyenne gives his all in everything. Whatever we ask Cheyenne to do, Cheyenne does it first-hand."

Jones added that Labruzza is an unselfish player who is willing to contribute in any role asked of him.

"He plays corner, but he's been doing a lot of other things on scout team," Jones said. "He's on scout team running offenses and running different looks whether it's punt, punt return, kickoff or kickoff return and he does it at a high level."

Jordan and his fellow freshman running backs Ty Chandlere and Trey Coleman have been rock solid in a physical training camp. Jones said that Jordan has demonstrated toughness and has earned respect.

"I think Tim has a unique personality," Jones said. "He always smiles. He brings levity to the situation but he's also intense as well. It's just a respect by his peers."

Martin, Johnson Discuss Personal Growth

Martin made great strides in the spring, emerging as a leader on defense. At the Orange and White Game, he received the Andy Spiva Award, which is given to UT's most-improved defensive player in the spring.

Martin, who has been vocal on the practice fields while helping his teammates, said that his biggest lesson has been knowing when to restrain his opinions on the field."

"I just control what I can control," he said. "I don't let one particular play hold over me for the rest of practice or the rest of the game. That's the biggest thing."

Johnson saw action in nine games as a freshman in 2016, collecting seven catches for 93 yards. He was limited in the spring due to injury, but that did not stop him from improving his film study habits. He has enjoyed a strong fall camp.

"I would say my biggest growth comes in my knowledge of the game," Johnson said. "I took a long time and I studied all offseason all the time I was hurt. While everybody was out there on the field, I couldn't play with my brothers, so all I could do is really study. I'd honestly say I've become more intelligent with the game, reading defenses and coverages and knowing what should be happening with the offense."

Additional Quotes

Coach Butch Jones

(On Tim Jordan having his stripe removed)
"Tim Jordan had his stripe removed today by the running back position so that was great to see."

"[They saw] toughness and mentality from him. All three backs are really doing a good job, just the overall intensity. I give these freshman backs credit. They have not missed one practice. Obviously, it's been a physical training camp but they have not missed one practice. I think Tim has a unique personality. He always smiles. He brings levity to the situation but he's also intense as well and it's just a respect by his peers."

(On what he saw during today's practice)
"Today, I thought it was very beneficial to get into Neyland Stadium and do a lot of situational football. Right now, we have to have the discipline to execute. Football is too hard of a game as it is from the technical aspect of things, from fundamentals, effort techniques and winning your one-on-one matchups let alone be a team that jumps offsides or a team that doesn't take care of the football. All those things come down to discipline, execution and having that ability. I thought there were many great teaching lessons and opportunities today. We had four straight days of intense football and I liked our approach and the way we came out, but there are way too many mental mistakes right now with this football team."

(On the depth at wide receiver)
"We've been repping a number of individuals. I think Tyler Byrd is really starting to come in now. He is playing with a lot more confidence. We're going to play Jordan Murphy as a true freshman and Josh Palmer as well. Latrell Williams has done some very good things as well. Obviously, we'll miss the experience in the beginning with Josh, but we have some individuals that are very talented."

(On Cheyenne Labruzza having his stripe removed)
"He's unselfish. When you look at Cheyenne, he's a very unselfish individual. He plays corner, but he's been doing a lot of other things on scout team. He's on scout team running offenses and running different looks whether it's punt, punt return, kickoff or kickoff return and he does it at a high level."

Cornerback Justin Martin

(On the competition in the secondary)
"There has been a lot of competition everywhere. Everybody has been trying their hardest. We get E-Man [Emmanuel Moseley] back from the spring and from injury. We get his leadership, which is a lot for the team. Everybody is in a good place I think."

(On his strong fall camp and his rise to becoming one of UT's top cornerbacks)
"Basically, I just go by the motto 'control what you can control.' I can just control my effort and how hard I go out there every day and that's what I like to do."

(On the talent level in UT's secondary)
"I love the talent level. We've got freshmen stepping up, such as Cheyenne [Labruzza], Theo [Jackson] and Sham [Shawn Shamburger]. They are all playing good football this camp."

(On Theo Jackson)
"My senior year, Theo was a freshman at my high school and he was the only freshman they let practice with the varsity. So I knew he had talent then, and now he's up here balling."

(On Cheyenne Labruzza and Shawn Shamburger)
"Cheyenne gives his all in everything. Whatever we ask Cheyenne to do, Cheyenne does it first-hand. Sham is the same way. Sham is interested in learning. He's physical on the field. We took both of their stripes off because they deserved it and they earned it."

(On the biggest area he has grown in as a player)
"I just control what I can control. I don't let one particular play hold over me for the rest of practice or the rest of the game. That's the biggest thing."

Receiver Brandon Johnson

(On where the receivers are at in terms of becoming playmakers)
"I really think we really made great strides all camp and summer. I feel like everybody has been stepping to the plate, especially the freshmen. We're just looking forward to making plays for y'all come Georgia Tech."

(On where he has improved from last season to now)
"Honestly, I would say my biggest growth comes in my knowledge of the game. I took a long time and I studied all offseason all the time I was hurt. While everybody was out there on the field, I couldn't play with my brothers, so all I could do is really study. I'd honestly say I've become more intelligent with the game, reading defenses and coverages and knowing what should be happening with the offense."

(On what his father, former MLB player Charles Johnson, taught him about playing high-level team sports)
"College sports in general, as well as professional, is a dog-eat-dog world. You've got to bring it every day. Hard work, that's what it's going to take. You have to be persistent with it. Persistent and consistent - that's the main thing that he taught me."

(On offensive rhythm)
"I would say that we are in a really good rhythm. Both quarterbacks are looking great. Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady, they're both looking great. I feel like they're doing a great job leading the offense. The o-line is coming a long great. The receivers are starting to really mesh. I would say that we are starting to build some consistency and we're looking good going into this first game."

The Preseason Poll

Tennessee has now been ranked in both preseason polls for three consecutive years, one of only 10 teams in the nation to accomplish that feat.  

Tennessee is 15-4 in its last 19 games, heading into the 2017 campaign and is coming off a second consecutive 9-4 record. The Vols have won three straight bowls for the first time in 20 years and hold a streak of three straight winning seasons for the first time in 12 years.

UT was one of six teams from the Southeastern Conference included in the Preseason AP Poll, joining No. 1 Alabama, No. 12 Auburn, No. 13 LSU, No. 15 Georgia and No. 17 Florida. Texas A&M and Kentucky also received votes in the poll.

Tennessee is exactly two weeks out from its Labor Day (
Sept. 4) season opener against Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. 

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)



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