HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – The transition process a team has to take when a new coach rolls into town can be rough. Oftentimes it takes a good while for the team to jell and develop the chemistry needed for success.
Head coach Butch Jones is trying to speed up that process. He inherits a Tennessee team that returns 12 starters, five on offense and eight on defense. The Volunteers are looking to rebound after a 5-7 season (1-7 in conference play) that resulted in the firing of Derek Dooley.
One of the primary tasks Jones will have to face is grooming a quarterback to take the place of Tyler Bray. Justin Worley backed up Bray in 2012, throwing for 134 yards and two interceptions. The other quarterbacks on the roster don't have any game experience.
Jones has a history of developing top-notch quarterbacks to fit with his style of play, such as Dan LeFevour at Central Michigan and Zach Collaros at Cincinnati. Now, he has the task of finding out who at Tennessee fits best with the offense he likes to implement.
"I always say, ‘Praise and blame, it's all the same.' It's the responsibility of command that comes with the head football coach and the quarterback position," Jones explained. "So moving forward with our situation, with Justin Worley, Nathan Petermen, true freshmen, we have to continue to develop those people.
"Our quarterback position is no different than any other position on our football team. We're going to put the best people in those positions that give Tennessee the best opportunity to win on game day. I like the progress that Justin has made and Nathan has made. I'm excited to see what the two freshmen bring to the table when we start camp August 1st."
Beyond the quarterback position, Jones has made quick work in instilling a mindset in his players that involves being focused on the process as opposed to results.
"What I told our football team is we have to focus on the process. We can't worry about the end result right now," Jones said. "We have to focus on the process. We have to be a better football team and a better football program minute by minute, hour by hour, day to day, month by month. If we just have that focus throughout the course of a long season, we'll like our body of work as the season concludes."
Jones' hit-the-ground-running, brick-by-brick process has had a lasting impact on the team even before they've stepped foot onto the field to play together this season.
"I'm confident in [Coach Jones']. The man is on a mission," defensive lineman Jacques Smith said. "I really wish I had three more years with him, but I only have one left, and I can't wait to play it."
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