Head Coach Derek Dooley On Pat Summitt
As evidenced by the reaction on Twitter Wednesday to Pat Summitt being named head coach emeritus of the Lady Vol basketball team, her impact on sports was felt by many.
As the Tennessee football team winded down its final spring practice at Neyland Stadium on Thursday morning, head coach Derek Dooley shared his thoughts on the all-time wins leader in NCAA basketball history.
“The word bittersweet I am sure is across all of athletics because she transcends,” Dooley said. “She is not just women’s basketball. She is an icon for any sport. I think celebrating the success she had is there. I called her yesterday and told her how happy I was that she was still with us and that she didn’t step down completely.
“She is just an amazing person and her impact will last forever. Not just on the people that she coached but all the people in athletics as a whole.”
STEAK OR HOT DOGS
Saturday’s DISH Orange and White Game will feature a different twist in the rosters this year, as Tennessee officially concludes spring practice.
Usually, the Vols hold a team draft for the game during the final week of spring practice. This year, however, one squad will feature the first team offense and second team defense, while the opposite will sport the second team offense and first team defense.
“(It’s) to try to manage a little continuity on the offense and the defense,” Dooley said. “It is not perfect because there are some guys that kind have been rolling with the ones but won’t be able to work with the ones, so that is a little drawback. It is a `good-on-good’ scrimmage. We try to not have a lot of mismatches. It will be a good opportunity for us to get another days work.”
The building intensity could be felt as the squads were split up for the final segment of practice, and walked off the field with plenty to say.
After all, there’s plenty on the line.
“It is a high stakes game,” Dooley said. “We do fine china, steaks, all the trimmings, baked potato, and dessert. And they have nice people serving them. The other crowd in the same room has paper plates, hot dogs, potato chips and water with no ice. So that is what we are playing for. And pride.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Antonio Richardson is ready for steak.
“It’s going to be very competitive out there,” Richardson said. “That is what it’s all about at the end of the day, competing, and that’s what we are excited about.”
Senior linebacker Herman Lathers, who will line up on the opposite side of Richardson, is excited as well.
“As a defense, we’re looking to go put a stamp on what we’ve accomplished this spring,” Lathers said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Ultimately, it will provide another opportunity to get on the field for Tennessee.
“It is another day,” Dooley said. “It is another work day. I have been really pleased with our spring. I will kind of sum it up after the spring game because this is another work day for us.”
HUNTER OUT SATURDAY
Junior wide receiver Justin Hunter will not participate in the DISH Orange and White Game on Saturday, but it’s impossible to ignore that his spring was positive as a whole.
“He is very valuable,” wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw said after Wednesday’s practice. “He is a big long kid that can eat up grass very fast with his stride. It then forces the defensive backs to get on their heels and then he can cut and turn just like a little guy.
“He does really well at that and he has just gotten better as spring has gone along with his knee and he has continued to strengthen it. He has a long way to go this summer to continue to get back to where he was.”
Hunter didn’t know what to expect this spring, but is looking forward to what’s to come.
“In a month I want to be feeling more confident than I was in the spring time,” Hunter said. “I just want some of the pain to go away. By the summertime in camp, I should be ready to go”
The Virginia Beach, Va., native hauled in three receptions for 70 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown, in Tennessee’s second spring scrimmage last Saturday.
While Hunter says his knee is around 80 percent, he expects to be at full strength by the time Tennessee hits the football field again.
He expects 100 percent out of the Vols’ offense as well.
“We could be really good,” Hunter said. “I know we have a lot of receivers coming. In the summertime we are going to be very deep so we are going to get a lot of rest and have more people coming on just to help us out.”
DISH O&W GAME SET FOR APRIL 21
The DISH Orange & White Game will take place on Saturday, April 21 with a 2:30 p.m., kickoff. Admission and parking will be free for all fans. In addition to free admission to the game, Fan Appreciation Day will feature an autograph signing with head coach Derek Dooley, assistant coaches and Vol players. The signing, held in recent years at Haslam Field, will be held on the field at Neyland Stadium from 12:15-1:15 p.m.
HEAD COACH DEREK DOOLEY
(On Tyler Bray)
“I hope he performs a little better than he did last year. It was probably part Tyler and a little bit the format, so that was on us. We will see.”
(On red jersey’s playing on Saturday)
“Justin is not. But there is a good chance Brewer and Prentiss will. They can protect themselves a little better and they will tag off. But Justin will not go.”
(On Brent Brewer)
“Once we moved him back to safety, he was a full-timer there. It worked out good. Right now he is at safety, that is where he will end spring and that is where he will work all summer. I just feel like he can help our team better there. He has a lot of experience there and we don’t have a lot back there. So I just felt like that was the right thing.”
(On Herman Lathers)
“Knock on wood but yeah Herman Lathers has been great. Leadership, experience, he is really fitting into the scheme well. If we can keep Herman Lathers healthy that is going to be a real big key for our defense.”
(On Willie Bohannon)
“Willie can play both outside positions. He can play the JACK, which is more of a D-End, and SAM which is more of an outside backer. He has done good.”
(On Byron Moore)
“I think just being a year in, (he’s) a little more settled in. Byron is a smart and instinctive player and that has helped him. He probably has a greater ability to pick things up quicker than a lot of guys and that has helped him. He tweaked his ankle a little bit so hopefully he will be able to play but we will see.”
(On Da’Rick Rogers)
“He has been incredible all spring blocking. He has worked really hard. He has improved his game in a lot of areas and he still has some areas he needs to improve on. He has had an outstanding spring and I have been proud of him.”
JUNIOR QB TYLER BRAY
(On what the offense needs to do to be successful)
“Just like usual, getting the tempo going. We have been preaching that for the last two years now, just getting the tempo going, and I think we are starting to get there. We still have a little bit to work on but we are getting better.”
(On the importance of this year’s spring game)
“I didn’t take it for what it’s worth and this I realized what it actually means and am trying to get better.”
(On what aspect he is looking to improve on Saturday)
“Accuracy. I don’t think I have had a spring game where my accuracy has been real well, so getting my accuracy up and get our team playing well.”
SOPHOMORE OL ANTONIO RICHARDSON
(On how far he has come)
“I’ve come a long way from knowing the game and from a physical standpoint. I’ve come a long way and I’m just excited to get it going on Saturday.”
(On what he would like to see out of the running game)
“Just want to see some explosive runs. At the end of the day if you can get some explosive runs the O-line is doing something right, so that’s all we want to do. It doesn’t matter what we are running, whether we are running power or whatever, we just want to see some explosive runs.”
(On the offensive line getting more movement)
“I feel like we are coming off the ball a lot harder this year. Everybody is buying in and everybody is just coming off the ball and it is paying off.”
SOPHOMORE DB BYRON MOORE
(On playing differently this year)
“I’ve got another year under my belt now. I feel like I’m used to the game speed of the SEC, I knew what practices would be like. So I was a little more comfortable playing faster. I’ve just been myself—running around faster and playing faster. That’s the main thing, just having that year under my belt now.”
(On what he looks forward to Saturday)
“I just want to finish off a good spring with a solid performance. Come out and make the right calls, line up right, and just make plays for the defense.”
SENIOR LB HERMAN LATHERS
(On if this week felt different than previous weeks of spring practice)
“Not really different than last week. We knew the coaches were going to approach this week with a sense of urgency and we knew we had to get some work done these last two days in pads. We knew Coach Dooley was going to pick two things to get better at this week, and we all did that.”
(On level of confidence after spring practice)
“I have a better grasp of the defense. I know a lot of positions so that helps a lot with me getting everyone lined up. As the mike linebacker, I have to be the orchestrator out there and run the show.”
(On confidence in his physical ability)
“Before the spring I was uncertain what I would get of this. But throughout the spring, I think my ankle held up pretty well. I’m looking to build on that this summer and get my body back in shape.”
JUNIOR WR JUSTIN HUNTER
(On his 50-yard TD in Saturday’s scrimmage)
“The defense played cover two and I went for the hole shot and the safety could not get over to the hash mark quick enough so I was wide open.”
(On his role for the Orange & White Game)
“I will be here as a spectator, supporting the team and making sure the orange team doesn’t win.”
Courtesy UT Media Relations