The Vols defensive line has been focal point of fall camp, as they needed to take the next step, under coach Rodney Garner. Coming off Thursday’s scrimmage, Garner felt like his group played well through the most part, but needs to be able to finish.
Coming out of Spring practice, it was all about players buying into the system that Garner was establishing and if you listen to him on Saturday, he still feels like it’s a process.
“I think for the most part, guys are trying to buy in. Obviously, we’re a work-in-progress. There’s room for improvement all across the board, including coaching. We’ve all got to hold ourselves to a higher standard and understand what that standard is, just understand that there are no shortcuts to success. It’s going to happen through adversity and how you handle adversity when you put yourself in adverse situations. Are you going to find a way to fight and win, or are you going to find a way to lose? That’s what we’ve got to change, that mentality. Where we’re going to find a way to win when the game’s on the line. It’s a process. They’ve got to embrace it, and we’ve got to do a better job of holding everybody to those standards.”
On the defensive front, LaTrell Bumphus is still working his way back from an injury sustained last season. But for the veteran, he says it should be “any day now” before he is fully cleared, which will be a tremendous help to this defensive line.
During the offseason, Tennessee went out and got a transfer from Kansas, to bring depth to the defensive line and play a contributing role on defense. Da’Jon Terry has the size and ability to flourish in this system, especially under Garner, who mentioned how tough he is on his group in the trenches.
“I’m never going to be satisfied with them being average, and I’m not going to apologize to them for pushing them to try to strain and be great. That’s something I will never apologize to them for, because when they all came to Tennessee, they didn’t say they wanted to come to Tennessee to be average”.
So, as we stand right now, with a scrimmage scheduled for Tuesday, it’s all about getting better and buying into what Rodney Garner is teaching.
If they can do that and soak every technique in, maybe this group will end up surprising some folks this season.