Having a blast

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First-year Tennessee football coach Butch Jones is more than a motivator. Apparently, he's part detonator, as well.

The Vols are surprisingly upbeat for a team coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons that included consecutive 1-7 SEC records. When asked where that optimism originates, most players point to Jones. Senior linebacker Dontavis Sapp said it best … or least the most colorfully:

"I feel like the team, the fan base, the media – everybody – is just a big bucket of gasoline," Sapp said earlier today. "Coach Jones is that match, that spark that's going to make the whole barrel of gasoline explode.

"That's what we need, and that's what he's pretty much given us. Whenever you see him, he's walking around with a bounce. He's confident, as we all should be."

Senior defensive end Jacques Smith also credits Jones with the positive energy permeating the program these days.

"The confidence comes from Coach Jones," Smith said recently. "He came in with a lot of energy and continually said, ‘Guys, you've got to have great discipline and great energy, and come with the mindset to work.'

"He definitely has changed the vibe and morale of the team. He changed it into a positive."

Jones' positive vibe is understandable. In six years as a head coach he has won four conference titles at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Apparently, his confidence has trickled down into his players.

"Coach Jones has established that with us, and that's what I love about him," senior defensive end Corey Miller said. "You come off back-to-back losing seasons but he comes in hyped up. He has all this energy and all of these expectations. He preaches to us."

Jones' favorite sermon is to "Focus on the process, not the end result." In other words, if a team continues working to improve the victories eventually will come. The Vols appear to be taking this message to heart.

"I feel like you get confidence through the process – going through everything and trying to win everything," senior center James Stone said. "You can feel your team getting better and see your team getting better. I feel like that's how we're going to build our confidence … every day focusing on improving."

Vol center James Stone says the team is focused on improving daily.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

After just two SEC victories in two years, it would be easy for the Vols to be pessimistic entering the 2013 season. Sapp admits that he's "trying to stay positive," adding: "When you think negative thoughts negative things tend to happen. If you think positive, positive things will happen. If you go into a season thinking you're going to lose, most likely you're going to lose because you've always got that mindset that you're not a winner."

Recent history aside, the Vols clearly see themselves as winners. Asked what a reasonable expectation might be for the 2013 season, Miller replied: "I feel like a reasonable expectation is just to win, period. I feel like we owe it to the state of Tennessee, we owe it to ourselves to get some wins."

In addition to Butch Jones, the Vols have faith in the assistant coaches who have helped instill new levels of discipline and optimism during the past seven months.

"Just the way they interact with us and the way they coach us," senior offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James said when asked what the new staffers have done to inspire confidence. "They coach us hard and they train us hard. They always talk about ‘Preparation gives you confidence,' so you'll have the confidence because they're definitely preparing us."

Junior offensive tackle Antonio Richardson says the new assistants have an off-the-charts confidence level that is spreading throughout the team.

"All the way from the top to the bottom, every one of these coaches has a swagger about him," Richardson said. "If the coach has a swagger about him like that it automatically sinks in to the players. That's why the players are so confident right now … because our coaches are uplifting. That's what you want from a coach."

Of course, good coaches have the greatest impact on players who are willing to listen and learn. Tennessee apparently has such players.

"We're hungry," Richardson said. "I haven't been to a bowl game yet, and that hurts as a player when you're at one of the most storied programs in college football. We're going to continue to get better. We're going to listen to these coaches, and they're going to guide us where we need to go."

Smith believes the blistering pace Jones has brought to the practice field will help the Vols get where they need to go, as well.

"I've never seen us play that fast before," Smith said. "The amount of reps we got in at practice was kind of ridiculous. I'd say we're going to be a pretty good team, based on the way that we work."

Despite some weak spots and depth issues, Miller thinks the 2013 Vols will be a pretty good team, too.

"I feel like we need to win every game," he said. "We need to win every game possible because we're capable of doing something."

Have a listen at what Vols Corey Miller and Brian Randolph had to say at the pre-training camp press conference at Neyland Stadium:

Here's video from InsideTennessee on linebackers A.J. Johnson and Dontavis Sapp at the presser:

See what Jones said in this video from the University of Tennessee:


Inside Tennessee Top Stories

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","mobileBody":"First-year Tennessee football coach Butch Jones is more than a motivator. Apparently, he's part detonator, as well.

The Vols are surprisingly upbeat for a team coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons that included consecutive 1-7 SEC records. When asked where that optimism originates, most players point to Jones. Senior linebacker Dontavis Sapp said it best … or least the most colorfully:

\"I feel like the team, the fan base, the media – everybody – is just a big bucket of gasoline,\" Sapp said earlier today. \"Coach Jones is that match, that spark that's going to make the whole barrel of gasoline explode.

\"That's what we need, and that's what he's pretty much given us. Whenever you see him, he's walking around with a bounce. He's confident, as we all should be.\"

Senior defensive end Jacques Smith also credits Jones with the positive energy permeating the program these days.

\"The confidence comes from Coach Jones,\" Smith said recently. \"He came in with a lot of energy and continually said, ‘Guys, you've got to have great discipline and great energy, and come with the mindset to work.'

\"He definitely has changed the vibe and morale of the team. He changed it into a positive.\"

Jones' positive vibe is understandable. In six years as a head coach he has won four conference titles at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Apparently, his confidence has trickled down into his players.

\"Coach Jones has established that with us, and that's what I love about him,\" senior defensive end Corey Miller said. \"You come off back-to-back losing seasons but he comes in hyped up. He has all this energy and all of these expectations. He preaches to us.\"

Jones' favorite sermon is to \"Focus on the process, not the end result.\" In other words, if a team continues working to improve the victories eventually will come. The Vols appear to be taking this message to heart.

\"I feel like you get confidence through the process – going through everything and trying to win everything,\" senior center James Stone said. \"You can feel your team getting better and see your team getting better. I feel like that's how we're going to build our confidence … every day focusing on improving.\"

After just two SEC victories in two years, it would be easy for the Vols to be pessimistic entering the 2013 season. Sapp admits that he's \"trying to stay positive,\" adding: \"When you think negative thoughts negative things tend to happen. If you think positive, positive things will happen. If you go into a season thinking you're going to lose, most likely you're going to lose because you've always got that mindset that you're not a winner.\"

Recent history aside, the Vols clearly see themselves as winners. Asked what a reasonable expectation might be for the 2013 season, Miller replied: \"I feel like a reasonable expectation is just to win, period. I feel like we owe it to the state of Tennessee, we owe it to ourselves to get some wins.\"

In addition to Butch Jones, the Vols have faith in the assistant coaches who have helped instill new levels of discipline and optimism during the past seven months.

\"Just the way they interact with us and the way they coach us,\" senior offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James said when asked what the new staffers have done to inspire confidence. \"They coach us hard and they train us hard. They always talk about ‘Preparation gives you confidence,' so you'll have the confidence because they're definitely preparing us.\"

Junior offensive tackle Antonio Richardson says the new assistants have an off-the-charts confidence level that is spreading throughout the team.

\"All the way from the top to the bottom, every one of these coaches has a swagger about him,\" Richardson said. \"If the coach has a swagger about him like that it automatically sinks in to the players. That's why the players are so confident right now … because our coaches are uplifting. That's what you want from a coach.\"

Of course, good coaches have the greatest impact on players who are willing to listen and learn. Tennessee apparently has such players.

\"We're hungry,\" Richardson said. \"I haven't been to a bowl game yet, and that hurts as a player when you're at one of the most storied programs in college football. We're going to continue to get better. We're going to listen to these coaches, and they're going to guide us where we need to go.\"

Smith believes the blistering pace Jones has brought to the practice field will help the Vols get where they need to go, as well.

\"I've never seen us play that fast before,\" Smith said. \"The amount of reps we got in at practice was kind of ridiculous. I'd say we're going to be a pretty good team, based on the way that we work.\"

Despite some weak spots and depth issues, Miller thinks the 2013 Vols will be a pretty good team, too.

\"I feel like we need to win every game,\" he said. \"We need to win every game possible because we're capable of doing something.\"

Have a listen at what Vols Corey Miller and Brian Randolph had to say at the pre-training camp press conference at Neyland Stadium:

Here's video from InsideTennessee on linebackers A.J. Johnson and Dontavis Sapp at the presser:

See what Jones said in this video from the University of Tennessee:

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