Vols Special Teams Could Be Factor Against Florida

Shoop Says UT Had Best Practice Of Season On Monday

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - by special to The Chattanoogan.com
Ty Chandler, who returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown against Indiana State, and the Vols' special teams could help decide the outcome of Saturday's SEC opener against Florida.
Ty Chandler, who returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown against Indiana State, and the Vols' special teams could help decide the outcome of Saturday's SEC opener against Florida.
- photo by UT Athletics

With the SEC opener looming, players and coaches for No. 23 Tennessee expressed their excitement to take on No. 24 Florida on Saturday afternoon during Tuesday's media availability.



"All I can say is, these are the games that you come to Tennessee for," offensive coordinator Larry Scott said. "It's why you want to be a Tennessee Volunteer. The conference season has begun, and it just so happens that the opener is in Gainesville against the Florida Gators. That's why you coach here, that's why you play here, that's why you're here."
 
The Vols scored 38 unanswered points in last season's comeback victory over their SEC East rival at Neyland Stadium to snap an 11-game losing streak in the series.  

"It doesn't really change anything for me or I don't think anyone on our team," junior defensive back Micah Abernathy said in regards to the win last season. "We know it's a new season, they have new players and we have new players, so you have to prove yourself every week in the SEC."

The SEC confirmed on Tuesday that Saturday's game will be played in Gainesville. The kickoff is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. and CBS will televise the action.

Offense Expecting Stern Test on Saturday

Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady and the Vols' offense is preparing to see a stingy Florida defense in Gainesville.

"We are going to have to win off the line of scrimmage at the receiver position, and obviously make tight throws," Dormady said. "Getting into the SEC now, so we are just going to have to make tight throws and execute each individual job."

The junior signal caller also stressed the importance of execution when trying to win against a tough team like Florida on the road.

"Florida in the Swamp, it is a hostile environment," Dormady said. "It is going to be hot and humid. You definitely want to go down there and dominate, but in reality to dominate a team that is equally matched up with us, it comes down to executing. I hope when
Saturday comes, we will be ready and execute, do our jobs, and stay focused."

Phillips Looking to Build Off Strong Performance

Junior defensive end Kyle Phillips is coming off one of his best performances as a Vol after posting two tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup in UT's 42-7 win over Indiana State.

"Definitely after the Georgia Tech game, I got back into the groove of playing," Phillips said. "Coming off of surgery, getting back into it takes time. I think I got my feet wet a little bit and got the groove of playing again. So I was very excited on how I played."

Phillips graded out as the Vols' top defensive lineman against the Sycamores and is looking to build off that performance heading into
Saturday's SEC opener.

Special Teams Continue to Shine Under Jones

Coach Butch Jones has stressed the importance of special teams since his arrival on Rocky Top. The added attention to special teams has paid off big time for the Vols as they have scored 11 combined touchdowns on kick returns and punt returns since Jones took over in 2013. The 11 touchdowns are tied for fifth most in the country during that span. 

"Coach Jones makes it a mandate that special teams will be the life and blood of our program," special teams coordinator Charlton Warren said. "You will find that we have a bunch of starters on special teams that are expected and want to be on our units."

UT's most recent success came in
Saturday's victory over Indiana State when freshman Ty Chandler returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for his first-career touchdown.

"That is like a storybook and special for that young man and his family," Warren said. "The great thing is that he realizes the other 10 guys on that unit allowed that to happen. When a guy scores a touchdown for our special teams, it's a true team deal.”

Quotes From Tuesday’s Media Availability

Larry Scott, Offensive Coordinator

(On newcomers being able to contribute more over the course of the season)
"It’s still early and they’ve made some mistakes, but they’re continuing to want to be coached. The greatest part about the first two games is getting them out there and kind of letting them go to see what they have, and then getting back to the correction part of it, which is coaching. Getting them back into the room, and showing them things and getting them to come out each and every week and go to practice to get a little bit better at those things and make those improvements steadily through the season.”

(On Quinten Dormady’s progression from game one to game two)
"He’s getting more and more comfortable with the ownership of the offense. He has a really strong sense of what I’m trying to get done as a play caller and what we’re trying to get done as a unit as well. So just settling in to the concepts, protection schemes, all those things, just getting more comfortable every time he steps out there.”

(On Florida’s aggressive defensive backs)
“We have some pretty aggressive defensive backs here as well when we play man coverage. But they’re the Florida Gators. We’re the Tennessee Volunteers. SEC football, let’s go play ball.”

Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator

(On positive defensive statistics and execution)
“Seven points, two-hundred yards. As I said to everybody, maybe to the naked eye it’s kind of hard to tell, but that was a very unorthodox and intricate offense. We felt it was our best plan just to keep it simple and to play a couple defenses. The guys executed those at a fairly high level. We certainly are going to play better competition than that and are very aware of that. We came out healthy and we didn’t show a significant amount to our upcoming opponents.”

(On being able to play a more typical style of defense this week)
“Georgia Tech does not necessarily make you change your defense, but they do make you have to call a specific set of calls, and a team like this is the exact same way. In many ways, Indiana State was as unorthodox and intricate of an offense as Georgia Tech. It was a good opportunity for us to go out there and play against it, because LSU plays a similar style of offense. That’s who they researched in the offseason. They did very few plays they did in their previous games. They had changed a lot between game one and game two.”

(On breaking the streak against Florida last year and how it effects the players for this year)
“I think there’s a sense of urgency. Our practice(Monday) was the best practice of the year. They came out, they were spirited and excited. It’s an SEC game, it’s the next game. All we’ve challenged the guys to do is go 1-0 each week. So, I mean I think the players are very excited for this opportunity. I think they respect Florida and their offensive scheme and their offensive coaches a lot, but they are looking forward to this challenge.”

Charlton Warren, Special Teams Coordinator/DB Coach

(On the success Tennessee has had on special teams under Butch Jones)
"Coach Jones makes it a mandate that special teams will be the life and blood of our program. You will find that we have a bunch of starters on special teams that are expected and want to be on our units. That is what gives us a chance to do things like we did on the first play of the game against Indiana State. I really think the culture of our program is bred on special teams being a great equalizer. We are going to spend time on our special teams unit and demand that our best players play on special teams. It's been the life and blood of this program." 

(On how Trevor Daniel and Aaron Medley have done with punts and kickoffs)
"They have been great. In our games, field position was like a premium to have a guy that could go back and flip the field position or have a kicker to go in and make field goals and extra points. People take them for granted, but if we missed that last extra point against Georgia Tech, we lose the game. To see those guys performing at a consistent level has been really good for us."

Quinten Dormady, Quarterback

(On the rivalry with Florida)
“It is definitely a huge game. Florida in the Swamp, it is a hostile environment. It is going to be hot and humid. You definitely want to go down there and dominate, but in reality to dominate a team that is equally matched up with us, it comes down to executing. I hope when Saturday comes, we will be ready and execute, do our jobs, and stay focused.”

(On the three new faces at wide receiver)
“I think it will be good. They are all good playmakers and they can do their jobs, so having them back in, just in general, the depth there is obviously a good thing.”

(On Florida’s secondary)
“We are going to have to win off the line of scrimmage at the receiver position, and obviously make tight throws. That is what the game is about. Getting into the SEC now, so just going to have to make tight throws and execute each individual job.”

Micah Abernathy, Defensive Back

(On the last three years of this series against Florida)
“We just know we have to play all four quarters, and I’m sure they know that to. Like you said, it’s been close games, the winning team at the half may not have been the winning team at the end of the game. We just know we have to play four quarters.”

Kyle Phillips, Defensive End

(On his success against Indiana State)
“Definitely after the Georgia Tech game, I got back into the groove of playing. Coming off of surgery, getting back into it takes time. I think I got my feet wet a little bit and got the groove of playing again. So I was very excited on how I played.”

(On the lack of chances to get into the back field against Georgia Tech and Indiana State)
“It has definitely been frustrating. I think, you know, as the season goes on I am going to have my opportunities to rush the passer. I think we just have to be patient. We still have to go with the game plan, we can’t get out of our gap trying to make a play and things like that. We have to go within the system.”

(On the team’s confidence when playing Florida)
“I think we have always had confidence playing Florida. We have had tough times at the end of games, but going into this year, we always expect to beat them. Through the streak has been close games, it’s been going down to the wire. I think we have always had the mindset that we are going to win the game.”

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

 



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