Butch Jones on the importance of 63 and football's equivalent to the driving range
Butch Jones met the media on Friday morning in anticipation of spring practice, and the Vols' new head coach provided a glimpse about what life would be like in the Jones era as practice gets underway on Saturday.
Jones wasn't shy about laying out the standards his players will be expected to meet. Those expectations start with a specific number.
Our players better know what 63 is. Four to six seconds, three great efforts and that's the way we're going to play and I told them that if they don't live up to those standards, they won't play," Jones said. "They are responsible for building their own identity.
"That's the big thing with a new coaching staff coming in - there is an unbiased opinion. They prove themselves to us every day by the way they practice, the way they present themselves, the way they are in the classroom. I think that's the big thing. They understand by now the expectations we have of them."
Accountability will also be a recurring character in this chapter of Tennessee football. We already covered how Jones and his staff plan to build accountability in the off-season, and that theme will follow the Vols to the field - to a meticulous degree.
"We'll compete every day when the pads go on," he said. "We'll have a winner and a loser and play on both sides of the ball. Every rep counts. We'll have a scoreboard on the field, so if we're in a one-on-one battle, the winner gets a point for the offense or the defense, and we'll tally them up, and the winner will wear orange jerseys and the loser wears the white."
That level of detailed expectation will also apply to Jones' assistants: "What separates coaches is the ability to see the small details and fixing those issues the instant they occur," he said.
Tennessee returns a senior-laden roster but must find a quarterback. The Vols will hold a quarterback derby that Jones expects will last into the summer. Tennessee quarterbacks will compete throughout the spring, but that competition will not involve one football staple.
"I'm not a big fan of pass skeleton. Pass skeleton is a driving range. There is no pass rush," said Jones.
Make no mistake, there's a new sheriff in town, and Team 117 in Tennessee football history will be different than the 116 that preceded it. That process starts tomorrow.
"By the end of practice 15, I want to know what we own in all three phases; in the development and the mental toughness that it takes to play football and the style that we're going to play here at Tennessee."