Vols Eager to Start Fall Camp

(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The start of preseason camp has arrived as the Tennessee Volunteers prepare for their first official practice of the fall on Wednesday morning at Haslam Field.

On Tuesday afternoon, head coach Josh Heupel, defensive coordinator Tim Banks and offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Alex Golesh met with the media to discuss the start of fall camp and the excitement surrounding the upcoming season.

“In less than a month we get a chance to run out in that stadium and have an opportunity to play in front of our fans,” Heupel said. “I know I’m excited. I know our players are, too. (We’re) looking forward to getting on the field tomorrow morning and getting training camp started, and (we’re) excited to continue to build the culture that we want to be here at Tennessee individually and collectively as a football team.”

Heupel and his staff harped on the importance of building off of the 15 spring practices and hitting the ground running this fall as they continue to implement new offensive and defensive schemes.

“I think we have a greater understanding and are doing things at a much higher level than we were when we ended, and certainly from when we began here last winter and spring.” Heupel said. “All of our players have had a chance to grow tremendously in understanding who we are and what we’re doing – by skill set, fundamentals and technique, by strength, power and speed and the growth that they’ve made inside of our offseason summer conditioning program – but then also being able to read and digest everything that we’re doing in our playbooks in all three phases of the game.”

It’s no secret that much of the excitement surrounding this year’s team stems from the fast-tempo, high-powered offense that Heupel brings with him to Rocky Top. Continuing to learn the new scheme, gain confidence through repetition and build an offensive identity are among the most important goals during this fall camp.

When it comes to that offensive identity, Golesh had just one word he used to describe it: attack.

“I’m not a big slogan guy or acronym guy. We use one word: attack. An attack legitimately from the outside looking in. What attack means, and it can be quantified, but what attack means is playing harder than your opponent for longer. And within that is the tempo, within that is how we play,” Golesh said.

The quarterback competition was another hot topic during Tuesday’s media availabilities, as the foursome of Harrison BaileyHendon HookerBrian Maurer and Joe Milton III enter camp battling to earn the status of QB1.

“I think it’s the challenge for every player to earn the trust of the coaching staff and show that they’re going to compete at a consistent and championship level,” Heupel said. “Once kids do that, I think it’s important that you as a coaching staff put them in position to have an opportunity to have a role and play a part of what you’re doing.

“Quarterbacks, just like every other position, those competitive battles that they’re in, you dwindle the reps down and make decisions when guys have shown that they’ve earned the opportunity to become a one or become a two or become a three based on how they perform. And so, as we go through training camp, the players will dictate how that unfolds.”

While Tennessee’s exciting new offense has coaches and fans excited, the Vols will also be debuting a new defensive system under the director of Banks, who is excited to see how his guys respond to getting back out on the practice field after summer workouts.

Banks harped on the importance of building depth on all three levels of the defense in order to combat the plethora of fast-paced, high-scoring offenses in today’s brand of college football.

“I think it’s critical in this day and age with the high-octane offenses that you’re going to see. I think you need to be able to have as much depth as you possibly can,” Banks said. “I also think it’s good for morale. The more guys have roles, the more ownership they have within the program.

“At the end of the day, you get what you earn. We’re not going to put a guy out there if he hasn’t earned it, but if guys have earned the right to get out there and help UT win, we are going to do everything in our power to get those guys out there to give us that chance.”

When asked if he has set any specific goals for his defense for the season, Banks’ answer was simple: “to win.”

“That’s our number one goal. We want to win. We want to find a way to do our part to make sure at the end of the day that UT is successful… We have some core fundamentals and beliefs that we have that we think are critical to us playing great defense, but ultimately, our number one goal is just to win. That’s how we start everything, and that’s how we end everything. What do we need to do to win?”

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