8-28 Practice Report, Jancek Feeling “Good”
Despite being disappointed over not being named the starter, Nathan Peterman has been upbeat after practice this week.
“I know I’m going to give my best regardless,” the redshirt freshman said. “Whatever the coaches see, whatever their decision is, it’s not up to me. But I’m going to give my best and go out there and perform like I am the starter everyday.”
When asked about his reaction to junior Justin Worley being named the starter earlier this week, Peterman said, “It was definitely a disappointment. There was high expectations. I have high expectations for myself…So, there’s definitely disappointment, but at the same time I couldn’t stay down too long, and I had to get up and get ready for the next day of practice.”
Not being the starter doesn’t mean Peterman won’t play on Saturday. Head coach Butch Jones hasn’t ruled out playing more than one quarterback against Austin Peay. Moreover, a potential blowout could give Peterman a chance to play as well.
“It’s all up to the coaches,” he said. “You know, we’ll see how the game goes. These things are never set in stone of how it’s going to go. Football is a crazy game…I’m going to be ready regardless.”
When asked about Peterman’s response to not being the starter, Jones said, “It was business as usual with Nate Peterman. He is mentally tough, has the desire, the work ethic. He’s very consistent.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian said setting a depth chart has been motivation to all of his signal callers.
“In every facet, the [quarterbacks'] game has stepped up,” he said.
Bajakian didn’t say Worley has relaxed since being named the starter. Still, there’s a sense of peace with the established depth chart.
“I think when you are competing in a quarterback battle or a position battle like that to a certain degree there is a sense of ownership that comes with officially being dubbed the starter,” Bajakian said. “I think he can take a deep sigh and say okay now it is time to go out and play.
“It is a competitive group, it is a proud group, and while I am sure there is disappointment in all of their hearts about not being named the starter, they have gone out and competed every day.”
Defensive coordinator John Jancek believes his group is ready for Saturday night. That’s saying something considering the Vols had to rebuild the shattered defense that took the field in 2012.
“I feel good,” Jancek said. “I feel comfortable where we are. There are a couple minor things that certainly we’re going to take care of tomorrow working into preparation for Friday, the day before the game. I’m comfortable with where we are. The guys seem like they’re catching onto things pretty solid, so we’re moving into the right direction.”
Still there are goals. Jancek wants to see them executed against the Governors on Saturday night.
“If I had to organize them and prioritize them, one would be play with great effort,” Jancek said. “Two would be take great angles to the football and three [would be] finish with our tackles. No missed tackles. I think if we’re able to do that, we’ll be in decent shape.”
Saturday is also a chance for Jancek to see more than just starters in action. Fans should have their programs ready.
“We’re going to have to play a lot of players in this first ballgame,” Jancek said. “That’s our goal is to develop players throughout the course of the year, get them experienced, get them in there, get them reps. They’re going to make mistakes, but we just have to keep plugging away and keep making positive strides.”
Jancek said the Vols have “painted a broad stroke” with his defense this week. Why? Well, Austin Peay is rebuilt and unknown. Also – the season opener is a chance to experiment on a weaker opponent. Still, it’s a game and it’s to be taken seriously.
“This will be the truest test that we’ve had up to this point,” Jancek said. “As coaches we’ve challenged them. We’ve tried to put them in competitive situations and expose them to as much adversity we possibly could, but there’s nothing like game day, so we’ll find out Saturday.”
One could argue that Austin Peay has a psychological edge over Tennessee going into Saturday’s game. The Vols are 50-plus point favorites and expected to annihilate the Governors.
“It makes them very dangerous,” sophomore safety LaDarrell McNeil said. “Like coach said, it is kind of like their Super Bowl and they are trying to come in and whoop a SEC team. We have to be prepared for it.”
The Vols don’t have much to gain on Saturday. No margin of victory will garner any attention from pollsters or analysts. That’s not the Vols mindset.
“We try not to think about it that way,” McNeil said. “We are thinking we are going to go in, we are going to dominate our opponent and we have to get ready for next week.”
Having redshirted a season, sophomore Brian Randolph is almost like a grizzled veteran in UT’s secondary. Despite his experience – or lack thereof – he’s trying to help UT freshmen cornerback Cameron Sutton and Malik Foreman. Randolph believes they’re prepared.
“We prepped them,” he said. “They got the little things down. They’re ready to go.”
UT’s secondary is young all over. There is one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen that are expected to see extensive playing time on Saturday.