Everything Tennessee’s Assistant Coaches Said Ahead of Fall Camp

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    Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke with the media on Thursday to kick off the Vols’ fall camp in 2019, but he wasn’t the only UT coach to meet with the media.

    All of Tennessee’s coordinators got to speak with the media on Thursday afternoon after Pruitt spoke. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Tee Martin, co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Chris Rumph, and special teams coordinator/inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer all got interviewed as well.

    Here’s a look at everything all five assistant coaches said on Thursday.

    Everything offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said:

    On how comfortable the coaching staff is:

    “I think we’re all very comfortable with everybody around us. And (Pruit) is right. We have a very competent staff, we get along very well and work very hard together, so we’re optimistic about that part of it. I’m excited about working with these guys, and so far, so good. It’s been fun.”

    On what he wants to learn about the team during fall camp:

    “I want to learn their aptitude, how much can they learn. I’m going to force feed them a ton of offense and just see where we’re at, see how much they can learn and absorb. I feel like the familiarity of the offense through the spring and making it through the summer, they made good strides in that regard, I think. We’re about to find out. But I’m optimistic that way. It’ll be interesting to see just how much we can absorb and how much offense we’ll be able to utilize and be able to execute.”

    On how hard it is for J.T. Shrout and Brian Maurer to learn the offense:

    “It’s very hard when you haven’t had a lot of reps doing stuff. It’s like anything else we do. The more you do this interview with your little camera in your hand, the better you get at. I’ve seen that at quarterback play also. It all comes with repetition, we all get better, we hope, with reputation.”

    His thoughts on the offensive line coming out of spring:

    “I thought they competed very hard. I think that we have to continue to become more fundamentally sound up front. I think Will’s (Friend) done a real good job with that and putting some new pieces in there with some of these young kids coming in. It’s going to be fun to watch the competition and see how that unfolds, but I’m very optimistic about those kids. I think they’re hungry. I think they realize they need to play better, and I think they will. I’m excited about that.”

    On his experience starting true freshman on the offensive line and what it takes to contribute right away:

    “I was one of them right here a long time ago. I think we had three freshmen one time. Three true freshmen in this league is not something you want to do. Let’s follow General Neyland and let’s look at that first maxim. Do you know what you’re doing? Can you play clean football? You’ve got to understand your assignments. Then it gets down to who has the best production. You’re going to try to put your five best players on the field on the offensive line. Who can learn their assignments? Who can not make mistakes? Who can execute and do the best they can? We’ll play the five best there, but it always gets down to who can make the fewest mistakes.”

    On if it’s possible to coach around the offensive line:

    “I don’t think it’s possible. I don’t believe it’s possible. I don’t think you can coach around your offensive line. Football’s been a game played on the line of scrimmage for a lot of years. At Purdue years ago, we threw it all the time and everybody says, ‘well, you’re doing that to bypass your line.’ We had a lot of linemen go on and play in the NFL. We weren’t winning the game because of the lack of the line play, we were winning because of the line play. We were just doing it a different way. It’s hard to hide if you’re deficient on the offensive line, it’s difficult to do. I think it’s virtually impossible at times. My anticipation is that our kids are going to go out there and compete. We’re going to be just fine. We’re going to go get better as the season goes on and continue to develop. And hopefully everything will go our way.”

    On the pride he takes in hearing Coach Pruitt say that he gets better every year:

    “My wife would disagree with that. I don’t know that. I have no idea. I feel like I get more excited as the years go on. I have no idea why. I think I enjoy the relationships with the players the older I get. I think when you’re young, you’re trying to make a dollar and you’re trying to move through this thing. You sometimes get caught up in the business as opposed to some of the relationships that you can enjoy and cherish. I tend to enjoy that a little bit more right now than I have in the past.”

    On how different it feels coming from a program that is competing for a national championship, to a team trying to make a bowl game:

    “To me, it’s my job. They pay me to run an offense and do the best I can. I don’t get caught up in all that stuff. I get caught up in my own job and putting our kids in the best situation to be successful. I think it’s a process. I’m a big believer in that mindset of the process. Let’s go out and get better every day and see where it lies at the end of the day. I don’t get too worried about that. I am here and I’m excited to be here. We’ll see what happens.”

    On the running back room:

    “I think those kids are good. They play pretty hard. I’ve really been impressed with Ty’s (Chandler) ability to make plays and run, and all those kids are playing hard. It will be interesting to see what we can get done. I think that is one of our goals as we go into training camp is to see what we can establish in the run game and see which direction we need to go to make sure we can be productive there.”

    On having experience running different types of offenses and fitting his schemes to his players’ strengths:

    “I think my stand in the National Football League helped me understand the importance of winning situational football. To do that you have to win short yardage, you have to win in the tight red zone, you have to be able to run the ball out in the four minute drill. To do that, you have to have physical mindset. Philosophical change from the Purdue through the NFL years to here is that you have to be able to do a little bit everything to be successful. You can’t be one dimensional. I hang my hat on if you’re the most physical team on the football field, you have a chance. We’ll continue to try to do that.”

    On what he wants to emphasize to Jarrett Guarantano during fall camp:

    “Playing clean football, distributing [the ball] around to our playmakers and not letting him think that everything rides on his shoulders. I’m more worried about him learning all the protections and continuing to develop in that mindset so he keeps himself protected.”

    On the team becoming a more physical football team:

    “I felt like we got through the spring with installation. I think sometimes when you’re installing plays for the first time, the kids are thinking and they don’t get to concentrate on becoming a better player. They’re worried about schemes. I think schemes are now done. I think they understand what that is. Now they can hopefully focus on the fundamentals of their position and learning to play more physical.”

    On how much freedom Jarrett Guarantano has:

    “As much as he can handle. I think any good offense allows your quarterbacks to change plays when they need to. As a play caller, you can sit there and be right about 60 percent of the time. Somebody’s got to get you right that other 40 percent or you’re living in a bad situation. The expectation for him is to get me out of my horrible calls to some good calls, which I think he can do and I trust all of our quarterbacks to be able to do that, but he should be able to do it at a higher rate because he’s played more football.”

    On the value he places on sitting down and chatting with his quarterbacks:

    “I had memories of that with Drew (Brees). I can distinctly remember that we’d always hook up on Thursdays and talk about red zone. I had a play I loved in the red zone and I was going to call it. He said, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t call that play. I don’t trust that receiver to run that route right.’ I scratched that play. I was smart enough to figure if Drew didn’t like it, I wasn’t going to do it. The quarterbacks, when they figure out that you have their best interest in mind, they’ll do about anything you want them to do. I think it’s important that you hear from them on what they see. They see it from a different perspective. When you have honest dialogue with those kids, they’ll make a comment about another player and say. ‘Hey, I don’t like the way he does this so quit calling this.’ It makes sense to you. He’s the guy standing there seven yards deep with a bunch of guys trying to break his neck. He has a different perspective on it than I do. It’s not my neck, which is good for all of us.”

    On his relationship with Guarantano:

    “It’s very good, very sound. I’ve enjoyed Jarrett. Hopefully, he’ll have a good season for us and he’s hungry to do so. He’s a very good student of football. He has a good aptitude and he has a good feel for the game. I like Jarrett. We’ve developed a good relationship thus far.”

    On how much tape of Guarantano he watched last year:

    “Very little. Very little. When I do these things I don’t go back and study a lot. I want to form my own opinions as we go through spring, but you’re always watching what they did. I see him do some nice things. I see some other things that I question, but you never know. I’m optimistic where we are right now and very pleased. We’ll continue to grow.”

    On how important it is to establish a clear backup through camp:

    “I think it’s very important. You have to be able to do that. You have to have someone you can put on the field and trust to be able to execute the offense, see what happens. There will be some good competition there. I think it’s important.”

    On Dominick Wood-Anderson:

    “He’s a talented young man. It’ll be interesting to see what we can get done with him. How many multiple positions can we let him play? That’s always the trick on that position. How far can he take the game? In the spring, we didn’t really open up a lot of things for Dom, but I do think he’s a talented guy. When he’s got the ball in his hand, he does a really nice job. He’s going to be one of those guys that’s going to be forced touches. You’re going to have to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to make sure he touches it X amount of times’, because I do think he’s a talent and he can help us win a lot of games.”

    On finding continuity within the offensive line prior to the start of the season:

    “Everybody has a different opinion on that. My history says defensive coordinators, defensive head coaches think you can move those pieces around a lot. The day before the game, ‘Hey, he can go to guard. He can go to tackle.’ Those people who have worked with the offensive line try to get it in place way too soon. I always try to figure out the harmony there. I think as soon as you can find your five best players and try to put them in the positions you need them at, the sooner the better. It’s like anything else. You also don’t want to do it so early that you’re losing competition, too. We want to let this thing play out and see who the best players are. I’m interested about that. It will be good to see.”

    On how the offensive line competition sits right now:

    As far as the competition, with the young guys, it’s interesting for me to see who’s going to play the cleanest. I can’t tell you who’s going to be that. I don’t know. I’m curious to see Darnell (Wright) and see how he plays when he gets in here. There’s a lot of questions. There’s a lot still up in the air in that regard. I kind of feel that way across the board, offensively. I don’t sit here and name 11 starters. I would have a hard time doing that right now. In my position, you’re never really looking for 11, you’re trying to find 18, 20, whatever you think can play winning football for you and find ways to put them on the field to be successful.”

    On if he has had conversations with Trey Smith about his battle to get back on the field:

    “I have not. I’ve stayed out of that. That’s coach’s deal with Trey.”

    On what he learned about his wide receivers this spring:

    “I think they’re a competitive group of guys that take a lot of pride in their role. I think that they’re going to be a big part of what we’re trying to get done this year. We’re gonna have to use those guys on early downs, probably a little more than I have in the past. I look forward to those older guys making plays for us, but I think they’re competitive. I think they can make plays.”

    Everything defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley said:

    On the improvement of the defensive unit compared to the spring:

    “Their football IQ has improved. I think that’s the thing that sticks out the most. Obviously, they’ve been working hard with (Director of Football Sports Performance Craig Fitzgerald) this summer. We haven’t had a lot of time with them, but we have spent the time with them that we can. The guys are eager to learn, eager to go out there and put their best foot forward.”

    On the coaching staff’s chemistry and comfort level heading into fall camp:

    “Very comfortable. The main thing is that everybody knows each other. We’ve all worked together in some capacity in the past, so it made the transition of coaching together again that much easier. We all have the same philosophies, we all coach football the same way. It’s been an easy transition coaching with people that you knew in the past.”

    On the progress of the defensive line since the spring:

    “If you’re not good in the trenches in the SEC, you’re going to have a hard day’s work. We have a lot of bodies up front, and a lot of competition in that group. (Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker) does a really good job molding those guys, getting them to play the right way. I look forward to seeing the outcome in fall camp with those guys.”

    On what aspect of the defense needs the most improvement:
    “There are always things you want to work on coming around spring ball and into summer camp. Communication of all 11 guys, talking the same language, saying it the same way. Pre-snap identification of splits, tight end formations, quarterback mannerisms – all those things can help us post-snap. Those are things we’ll harp on in camp.”

    On how the defense’s football IQ has improved since spring:

    “It improves because the guys are a year older in scheme. Going through the spring and having acclimated practices in the summer, you can also get around and develop them a little bit more. I think the familiarity with the scheme and the coaching staff kind of helps guys calm down, take a deep breath and see things a little bit clearer.”

    On the competition amongst defensive backs:

    “We’ve got a lot of competition. We’ve got a lot of guys that have played some ball. There are some guys that have proven themselves, but we’ve also got a bunch of other guys that are coming up that are eager to put their foot on the field and make their imprint on the defense. We have a lot of competition at the cornerback position, the star position and the safety position. These guys want to come into camp and attack the right way, and we’re going to see who rises to the top.”

    On rotating defensive backs versus sticking with a consistent unit:

    “We want to try to find the best eight, nine or 10 defensive backs that we can, and try to rotate those guys throughout the season. Because we play so many different multiple packages, you want to have fresh legs and guys that can do different skill sets. That’s why we try to teach everybody more than one position, to create depth within the defense.”

    On what we wants to see from the linebacker group during fall camp:

    “We’ve got some juniors and seniors at that spot, and they’ve played a lot of ball. Quarterbacking the defense, talking to the front, being a signal caller and just getting us in the right play and being able to put out fires. Sometimes we may see things in the game that we may have not prepared for, so we’ve got to be able to put the fires out. That’s what those guys jobs are.”

    On what he’d like to see from transfer DB Deangelo Gibbs as he redshirts the season:

    “Deangelo is a guy that can play both sides of the ball. He’s got a unique skill set, because he’s a big man that can run. He’s got really good ball skills down the field. Receiver is a position he can play as well. We just want him to go out there every day and work as hard as he can, continue to develop his overall strength and conditioning levels and we’ll see what happens next year.”

    On how he expects senior linebackers Darrell Taylor and Daniel Bituli to step up as leaders:

    “Those two guys have been three or four-year starters here at Tennessee. We’re expecting those guys to take a big jump and be our leaders of the defense.”

    On what sticks out about Darrell Taylor since spring camp:

    “Darrell works hard. For one, he’s done a really good job in the offseason of putting on added weight and muscle. You can tell by his frame that he’s put together really well. Going forward, it’s all about him providing depth a leadership for the young guys, being a leader for the outside linebackers.”

    On his early thoughts on JUCO transfer defensive linemen Darel Middleton and Savion Williams:

    “Glad to have those guys. You can never have enough big men up front. Those guys coming in, they add depth to the interior of the defensive line. We’re excited to see what those guys can do moving forward.”

    On the early plan for freshman linebackers Quavaris Crouch and Henry To’oto’o:

    “The early plan is to get them caught up fast. Crouch went through the spring and did some good things, showed some flashes. [We want to get] Henry up to speed as quick as possible, because we’re trying to find the best football players we can find. Hopefully those two guys are in the mix.”

    On finding a spot for those two freshmen linebackers:

    “Both of them are inside linebacker types. Crouch has a little more versatility, but Henry is more of an inside signal caller type of guy. We’re going to put them at a spot and try to let them grow. If they can handle multiple spots, then we’ll give them multiple.”

    On watching game film from last year versus analyzing players in practice:

    “You’ve definitely got to watch last season, because you have common opponents, opponents that you’re going to see again [this year]. But also, you want to see the skill set of the guys that you have. I wasn’t away from college football for that long, so I already knew kind of what we had here, talking to coach Pruitt and recruiting some of these guys. I had an idea of what kind of skill set they had.”

    On running the same type of defense from last season:

    “You can see some of the same concepts that show up over and over. Some of your bread and butter stuff, what you need to kind of tweak and what you can help them become better at. Last year was year one [in that system] and this is year two, so guys should calm down a little bit.”

    On defining and determining football IQ amongst defensive players:

    “I think football IQ is the volume of football that kids can handle, comprehend and be able to regurgitate back to their teammates. Pre-snap keys, quarterback mannerisms, down and distance, situational football – all those things go into being a very smart football player. Our whole team has to become smarter, especially on defense.”

    On Alontae Taylor’s improvement from fall 2018 to spring 2019:

    “Alontae’s been working hard since I’ve been here. He played a lot as a freshman last year. Corner’s a tough spot to be thrown into the fray as a freshman in the SEC. He did some good things and he’s got a lot of room for improvement. He took that advantage this spring and tried to start good habits and took that into the summer. Hopefully he’ll have a good camp.”

    On what he has seen from sophomore DB Bryce Thompson:

    “Same thing with Bryce. Again, freshman that played a lot last year, really good ball skills. We’re expecting him to take a little jump, [stepping into a] leadership role, doing things the right way and being accountable. We’re looking forward to him having a really good camp as well.”

    On how it feels to work with co-defensive coordinator Chris Rumph:

    “It feels good, really good. Chris is one of my mentors. I’ve known him for a long time and we work well together.”

    On the foundation set by the cornerbacks last season and how that bodes well for 2019:

    “The style of defense we want to play, you have to be really good on the outside and on the perimeter. If you don’t have really good corners, it places a limitation on your defense. Those two guys have a lot of room to improve, a lot of work to do, but they’re trending in the right direction.”

    On the fine line between being aggressive and too aggressive as a defensive back:

    “As a coordinator, I think you’ve got to play to your strengths. You have to identify early what your strengths are going to be, be able to call the game and be able to adjust to that strength. If you don’t have really good corners, then you have to play a different style of football. But again, you don’t want to leave those guys out there exclusively on their own. They need help just like everybody else, and we’re going to try to provide them with that.”

    On identifying the strengths of the 2019 defensive unit so far:

    “We have some experience coming back. We’ve got some guys that have played a lot, whether it be last year or the year before. Guys have seen SEC football live and in color, and for me that’s a big thing. This league is so dominant and so physical, so you want guys that have play tape and game time. A strength of ours is going to be guys that have played. We’ve got to build our identity this camp.”

    On Roman Harrison contributing as a freshman:

    “Yeah, we hope so, because if you can’t effect a quarterback, you can’t win. We’re going to push Roman to see how much he can handle, and hopefully he can be that guy on the opposite of Darrell (Taylor) in some situation packages that can help us rush the quarterback.”

    On the biggest difference from being an assistant coach to a coordinator:

    “Yeah, the biggest difference is preparing the whole defense, you know, understanding that my role has increased with the responsibility and making sure everybody is aligned the same way, from the coaching staff to the players and the support staff to make sure we’re all going in the same direction. So that’s been the biggest learning curve of the summer.”

    On what he hopes to get out of Nigel Warrior:

    “I think practicing the right way, practicing the right habits, doing it the right way over and over and over. Creating those kind of habits will show on the on the field on Saturdays because Nigel’s a guy that has a lot of ability, and it’s my job to make sure he’s playing at a high level.”

    On being a defensive coordinator with a defensive-minded head coach:

    “I’ve never called a defense with a head coach before, but just in the past being on different staffs of that nature, the head coach always had input and he always is an extra set of eyes, so to speak. I’m sure coach Pruitt will be the same way. He has a lot of ideas, he’s very bright and I’m sure I’ll lean on him every day throughout this process.”

    On the experience of Tennessee’s staff being helpful to him as a coordinator:

    “Absolutely. That was one of the draws for me to come take this job. It was very glamorous because the staff did have a lot of experience and they know how to do it in this league. They’ve done it before. They’re proven veterans and they’re good men. So that was very attractive for me when I decided to take the job.”

    On Trevon Flowers’ development:

    “Trevon has been working hard. He had a productive spring and he’s had a pretty good summer. This fall camp is going to be pretty big in his development because he wasn’t a mid-year guy last year, so this will be his second true fall camp. We all know you missed some time in the fall, so this will be a big camp to get him fine-tuned to be a big-time player for us.”

    On Trevon Flowers’ not playing much football in high school:

    “The sport that he really hung his hat on was baseball, which is a lot like playing defensive back. It’s a very reactionary position, you have to track the ball, good hand-eye coordination, so the skill set was very similar. The contact part was not there, obviously, but he’s shown us every sign that he’s not afraid of contact so we’re excited about him moving forward.”

    Everything wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Tee Martin said:

    On sense of urgency in fall camp:

    “It’s time to go. We had a really good offseason. I’ve been talking to them and they were all here for the summer, everyone is excited and ready to go.”

    On talking to the seniors about cherishing the moment:

    “Not yet. That starts during training camp and a little bit in the spring, but that’s a little early for it. This is the time where you really build your team character and get an idea of what you have going into the first game.”

    On what the wide receiver group is capable of achieving:

    “We will have more experience with Jauan (Jennings), Marquez (Callaway) and those guys playing a whole lot of football. The best guys will play. It is a clean slate once we get to training camp. We want to compete with the best guys on the field that can play.”

    On what receivers he is excited about:

    “The guy who I’m really excited about Josh Palmer. He had a really good spring and Jordan Murphy had a really good spring. Ramel (Keyton) is coming. He has the talent and is really smart. He just hasn’t played yet, so we’ll see how he comes along.”

    On Jordan Murphy:

    “He’s a really intelligent football player and a talented route runner. You can tell he really loves the game. I just want to see him play more. I haven’t seen a lot of his film from over the years, but I think he has a lot of ability.”

    On Jarrett Guarantano and his leadership:

    “He has a built a chemistry with the (wide receivers) and his leadership. It is a new system, so once he gets caught up with the system, you’ll see his true potential. The leadership qualities and the chemistry, those things can’t be underestimated.”

    On Josh Palmer:

    “He was a consistent performer and he made big plays for us and that is where we are going to need him.”

    On stepping back out onto Neyland for a game:

    “The last time I was here I was coming in with the Kentucky blue on and I was on the other sideline. That was a little strange. Going back as a Tennessee coach is something I have thought about for a long time and I’m excited about doing it. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, but I’m looking forward to it.”

    On preference on how many receivers he would like to play and how to rotate them:

    “I want to play as many as we can because for me it’s about quality of reps and not quantity of reps. I want to platoon the guys and really look at how basketball teams do it. We’re very good here. Our two deep is just as good as the starters. You don’t care who’s in the game. Obviously, we have things that are designed for certain players to do that are just better than other players. I want to be able to look up and say, ‘Marquez is tired’ and the next guy goes up and he can perform just as good. I think that’s good for the camaraderie of the room, good for recruiting and good for the game planning. Other teams have to prepare for different types of receivers and they all have different skill sets. I want to play as many as I can and that’s something I have always done whether it be at Kentucky or at USC. I was able to attract receivers to those schools. They all performed and now they are in the NFL. You only get better by playing.”

    On working with Marquez Callaway:

    “Marquez has a skill set that is very similar, to me, like JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was very intelligent. He did everything on special teams. He can do anything on offense. He can play inside and outside. He’ll play hurt. Anything you ask the young man to do. I didn’t know Marquez when I came here, but he was always eager to jump in and do whatever you ask him to do and he loves the game. This is his last year and he ran a 4.40 flat over the summer. He has gotten faster since a season ago and that is something I challenged this group with. They all went into the weight room. They all had better times when they tested a couple weeks ago. So now, we just got to take that work and put it onto the field, and I think he has the potential to be one of the best receivers in SEC. And I’m not just saying that because he’s here at Tennessee, his body of work to this point speaks for itself. If he just continues to take his game to the next level I think he could be one of those early round guys.”

    On where he wants to see Jauan step up this season:

    “Lead by example, in a positive way. He’s turning the corner and it’s something he focused on in spring. He was one of those receivers that really wanted to get the ball and was a little emotional at times. You saw him really grow toward that at the end of spring and went hard on every play. We are going to need him to do that. We are going to need to move him around because he is one of our best guys. He has had a really positive attitude and has taken Ramel (Keyton) under his wing a little bit in the summer and have gotten closer. Jauan has changed a little bit for the positive. He’s doing everything that we are asking him to do. It’s his last year and I think he understands the importance of him having a good season.”

    On upperclassmen bridging the gap between coaches and the younger players:

    “For Jauan (Jennings), Tyler Byrd, Marquez (Callaway) and those guys, I’m their fourth receiver coach. The best thing that any older receiver can do is show that he trusts the new coach and that they believe in the new coach. We all have a good relationship in there and we can really build a relationship in the receiver room. When a young guy is messing up, the older guys can show them by example and then put them back on track by showing them what they have done wrong. That’s the only thing that I ask the veterans to do really is buy in and then lead by example in a positive way.”

    On Jauan Jennings’ health:

    “He’ll be available. Coach Pruitt will get more in depth with the specifics of when and all of that stuff. He is looking really good and I asked him how he was doing. He said he was ready to roll. We’ll see as we go.”

    On being back at Tennessee for fall camp and do any of the old memories come back:

    “I get fired up. You saw how fired up I was when I walked in here and I had to calm down a little bit. It’s here and it has been 20 years since I have been in front of you guys and speaking to fans that I actually know and have a relationship with and not at some place where I didn’t come from. That part of it in and of itself is special to me. There have not been many guys in the past that have come back to coach here. I know Terry Fair just did, but for me I never thought I was going to come back and coach here. The way it worked out and the timing of it was great. I am just as excited to get started as our fanbase is.”

    On having his kids back to experience this:

    “I have been trying to prepare them. We had our so-called last supper last night and we had our so-called last meal. I told them, ‘this is the last time we’ll be able to do this during the season.’ They are so used to being out in California. We’ll be prepared for it. We have been in the SEC before and we are prepared for it. Now being at Tennessee, it is a little bit of a different deal. My older son is getting ready for his first scrimmage on Friday and then my younger son just scored his first little league touchdown.”

    Everything special teams coordinator/inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer said:

    On Coach Pruitt’s assessment of this staff being the best in the country:

    “There is no doubt this is. There are a lot of really good men, first off, great coaches and a lot have track records at the places they have been as recruiters and coaches, so I agree with that. It’s a good thing to sometimes hear that from your head coach.”

    On fall camp:

    “It’s that time of the year where you kiss the wife and kids and take off to work. It’s fun, it’s what we do this for. Get a chance to go out there and be with the players and kind of be hands on with them and smell the grass, I guess you might say.”

    On what he wants to see from his position group:

    “Obviously improvement. Some maturity, we have a few young guys who will be in that room and some guys who have been here and have some reps behind them. But, kind of take the reins and taking year two of the defense, knowing what to do, moving on and coming out of it with some good solidification of who is going to be where and how much depth we are going to have at that position.”

    On young guys and their development:

    “Typically, with the young guys we try to pair them with an older guy so that they can kind of help them along as they are out on the field or whatnot. We get time in the summer to meet with them the last few years, so that helps that you are with them in the meeting room and you try to feed them information. You try to give it to them in a way that you think helps them learn, so over a few days you figure that part out. But we will move them around and experiment some as time goes on as well.”

    On defensive jumps from year one to year two:

    “I think the biggest thing is understanding. In the first year, every day is a new day until you get to the first day of the second year no matter whether it be offense, defense or special teams. I think our kids can anticipate a little bit of what is going to happen which helps our young guys when they come in. Last year, we had one coach at each position. Now, you may have eight coaches plus the assistant because the older guys can help bring the young guys along as well.”

    On Quavaris Crouch’s comfort level having gone through the spring:

    “That’ll help a lot. He’s gone through spring and our summer meetings. It is going to be his third time being exposed to a lot of the information. It’ll help him a lot. Again, there are a lot of stresses outside of football with school, travel and the whole thing you go through in the fall. It will help him.”

    On Daniel Bituli’s growth as a leader:

    “I think he has done a really good job with it. I think you see it a lot more on the field. It is hard to be a leader sometimes because that means you are the first guy to ether start whatever it is or you have to confront teammates and peers. He has done a really good job with it, and I think a lot of it starts with what he does and how he handles himself and his work.”

    On Daniel Bituli displaying different types of leadership:

    “Everyone leads in their own way. They have to sort of figure that out. Obviously, you would love to have a lot of guys that are vocal but that is not always the case. They just have to find their niche of how they lead. His has been both, his has been putting his arm around or going out there and confronting a guy to start getting on him going for whatever they got going on, whether it be a workout or practice.

    On the coaching staff:

    “A lot of experience, a lot of experience in the SEC. Which is one of the toughest leagues in the country. We kind of all know that so I think that helps. Coach (Jim) Chaney, coach (Derrick) Ansley and coach Pruitt, each one of those guys brings a different element. But then you also have good people. A lot of us have coached high school, which means we were schoolteachers. We teach the game of football, and I think we have some of the best teachers of the game in this building.”

    On how he knows when a guy understands the defense:

    “I guess it comes with execution. A lot of the time, it is a new language. Every day a new word or words are presented to them, so you try to get ahead of it. As they start to be able to interact and talk with you, that’s when you start to know they are starting to understand the concepts and the language they are speaking.”

    On if they have improved on that language from year one to year two: 

    “Last year, new words would come in or terminology and they would have a blank look. Now it is like, they know, so we are trying to get the young guys to understand what those words mean. A lot of it is just the interaction that they are able to do and the questions they have.”

    On the importance of this time for J.J. Peterson:

    “Obviously, for every guy on the team it is important. It is the transition from summer to fall, getting ready for the games to start. We expect him (Peterson) to have a better shot because last year he did come in later than the rest. He will do what he needs to do and time will tell on him. All of our guys are going to be pushed and competing for starting jobs and playing time.”

    On Shanon Reid’s improvement:

    “All of the guys have done a really good job, and I think it is because this is the second go around. The first time, you don’t know what to expect. He has done a really good job too. I know his numbers in the weight room have been up. They are changing their bodies. Their bodies are starting to grow a little more. In meetings, his confidence in the defense, you see that. Like I was talking about earlier, the interactions. Sometimes you are going through it with the young guys and they are saying the answer before you get to it, so you know that they have a better understanding and that is what he does.”

    On the defensive line’s hunger to step up:

    “You know, I think all the guys are ready to come in. They want to show what they have done in the last year and a half that we have all been here. I don’t know that I see it from one position more than the other, other than the team is ready. We gave them a couple days off from the weight room and they are still in there running around, working their craft.”

    On not having to focus as much on installing a culture and focusing more on schemes:

    “It is good because we know these guys a lot better now. Last year we had basically six months roughly at this point with them, roughly. You understand how they think, how they learn, how they respond to coaching and things like that. It makes it easier for us to have an opportunity to get to them better, if that makes sense. You are in that mode now with the new guys, the freshman and the junior college guys.”

    On the summer as the special teams coordinator:

    “A little different, but for the most part what we do as coaches is take whatever plan we are going to do and try to organize it and install it. I have always been a part of special teams for the most part, so it has just been putting in kick off cover.”

    On meshing with Derrick Ansley:

    “We worked together at Alabama. I was in an off-the-field role in player development and he was a graduate assistant. He and I have known each other for eight or nine years. I think most all of us have had some kind of prior relationship.”

    On changing the culture and getting players to understand:

    “I think it is the more you say and do something, the more it becomes who you are. Last year, we were the leaders to that. Now, it’s not only us, it is the players that have been here. You show them and if they do not do it the way you want it done, you let them know here is how we do it, or we do not do it that way. There are a lot of different ways. Heck, every time you get in and go to work every day you may go the same way, but you have to drive differently because the cars are in different spots. It is the same thing with coaching, every day you may have a plan, but your plan has to adjust as your players respond, as they learn, as you figure out what kind of personality [they have] and who they are.”

    Everything co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers Chris Rumph said:

    On working with defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley:

    “It’s been a blast. It’s always great to work with someone you’re familiar with and have worked with before at different places. He’s a young and bright mind who’s energetic and smart. I’m excited and I know the players are excited as well.”

    On his excitement for fall camp:

    “It’s Fall Camp, it’s football time again. There’s only so many vacations you can go on in the summertime. Now I’m finished with all of that and it’s time to get going again and I’m excited for the season and the growth we’ve shown thus far.”

    On Darrell Taylor Becoming More Consistent:

    “All we can do is work on it every day and show him film. He’s going to have to bring it every day. He’s the face of the program and the defense right now, and we expect a lot of things out of him. It’s now his second year since we’ve implemented the defense so he should be more comfortable with it and what we expect from him.”

    On the Competition at OLB opposite Darrell Taylor:

    I don’t have anything locked down. It should be fun. Like I said the guys should be more comfortable this year. Last year having a new staff and a new defense, every day was new for our guys. This year, they feel better as players, better about their bodies and they’re more confident. It should be interesting and it’s going to be a fun camp.”

    On the guys being more comfortable with the scheme:

    “It’s like buying a house. When I bought my house last year, I had to put my hands on the walls when the lights were out. I didn’t know where anything was. Now I can find all of the cups and spoons, because I’m more comfortable now. The guys this year now know what to expect. Now we can really coach and teach instead of all of the little things we had to do last year.”

    On the changes he’s seen in coach Pruitt:

    “For me personally, it’s the relationship he has with the players. Coming in last year he spent time trying to build his program, the weight room, the medical side of things, the academics and create a culture that when you spend time doing all of that you don’t really get a chance to get to know your players. This year he’s done a great job to really get to know the players that now they know his expectations. When he goes at someone they know where it’s coming from. I tell my guys all the time ‘I care about you and love you’ and when I ask them to do something they know the place that it’s coming from. It’s coming from the heart. I’m not trying to be mean or reckless with you.”

    On what being comfortable allows the defense to do:

    There’s a comfort level. You can say things and they know exactly what you’re talking about. You can look at them and not have to go into detail about things. Last year, every day was a new day and they had no clue what to expect for practice. Last year at this time they’re nervous, because they didn’t know what we were going to do, whether that was the season, offseason, recruiting, summer workouts and now that they’ve been through it, they get it and see the big picture.”

    On the having one of the top coaching staff in the country:

    “I really feel that we have one of the best staffs in the country. I really enjoy these guys and I enjoy coming into work every day. I enjoy being with them. I work with some great men here aside from football, they’re just great people. I enjoy being around them. My family enjoys being around them. I judge a lot of things by how my kids react. My youngest son feels comfortable sitting down with anyone in the office when he comes by. That’s how I judge these guys, by how they act around other people’s kids.”

    On being comfortable with the rest of the coaching staff:

    If you’re not happy, then you’ll take that home to your wife and a happy wife makes a happy life. You have to know that in those heated moments and during all of that time we spend together in that small office that we all want the same thing. We all want to be successful, win a lot of games and we want to impact lives as much as possible. If you don’t have those people in the room with you then it’s tough looking over your shoulder and questioning a guy’s motive. When you know it’s coming from the right place then you would go to war for that guy.”

    On the toughest thing to work through as a staff last year:

    “Bringing all of the different ideas from different places together and trying to figure the team out. Every team is different and we had to find out what it was going to take for our guys to understand what we were trying to do. We tried things, they weren’t working and we had to figure out how to be creative to get our guys to understand what we were trying to do and where we were trying to take them.”

    On what he learned about his position group to better coach them:

    “I just learned them. I understand them more and they understand me more. I told them that they have to know that I love them and I care about them, because some of the things I’m going to ask them to do may be crazy, but they can’t question me. They have to know that if I ask them to jump out of a window that they won’t get hurt, because I have their best interest in mind. Those guys know where I’m coming from and a lot of times we all say things when we get new jobs, but they don’t want to hear that stuff, they want to see it. It’s been a year of them seeing me for who I am, seeing me around my wife and my kids. They see how I interact with my oldest son who plays college football and they see that I’m just as tough on him as I am on them.”

    On what he wants to see from Darrell Taylor when leading the defense this year:

    “We just want to see leadership from him. We’re still a pretty young team especially in this scheme and we need him to work the front guys to make sure they’re doing what we’re asking of them and holding up the standard. Besides the football part it’s about him being consistent on the field and being a leader because he has the qualities, he just needs to believe in it and do it.”

    On finding a consistent player on the opposite side of Taylor:

    “Right now if you’re playing us everyone is going to slide the protection towards Darrell (Taylor), so you have to have some type of threat from the other side. I told the other guys that I would love to play on a team with Darrell Taylor so I can get the one-on-one matchups and have some success. It’s going to take a group effort on the other side and Darrell is going to have to be patient and play within the defense, and those guys know they have an opportunity to be really good.”

    On the advice he can give Darrell regarding double teams:

    “Just coaching different techniques and ways of how to defeat those situations. We’re also going to have to be creative with some of things we’re doing to protect him and to put him in one-on-one situations.”

    On who he expects to start on the opposite side of Darrell:

    “Right now, if we had to roll out there, our number one option would probably be Deandre Johnson. He’s the guy that has the most experience right now, but we have some young guys that are going to battle and I’m looking forward to it.”

    On what the young guys have to prove:

    “Firstly, they’re going to have to learn the defense, but they’re already light years ahead of where the older guys were last year. They have those guys to bounce ideas off of. Last year our guys had no one to rely on, it was just them trying to figure it out.”

    On where he wants to see Deandre Johnson get better at to solidify his spot:

    “He needs to be strong at the point of attack. He needs to be a dominant force playing over the tight end who’s setting the edge, while giving us some options on third down rushing the passer.”

    On Henry To’o To’o being locked in at inside linebacker:

    “I’m not sure. I want them all. I’m a good coach when I have good players.”

    On Daniel Bituli giving more flexibility on the outside:

    “He has that skill set. He can play inside and then on third down he can go outside and rush the passer. He’s another guy that’s going to give us some depth on the outside.”

    On Will Ignont’s spring performance and fall expectations:

    “Will plays inside, but he’s really improved a lot coming from where he was and now he’s a guy we can really depend on. I’m excited for him. I know Coach (Kevin) Sherrer has done a good job coaching him up and he’s a guy that’s in the office all the time trying to get better and learn.”

    On leaning on Darrell Taylor for leadership for the other outside linebackers:

    “We’re going to lean on him a lot. Not only just on the line, but the whole team, the whole defense needs to feel him, and he needs to step up and be a big-time leader along with Nigel (Warrior) and (Daniel) Bituli and grab the bull by the horns.”

    On what he’s seen from Roman Harrison:

    “He’s strong. I can’t wait to see him on someone’s reel.”