published Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Annoying noises make debut at Vols' practice

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee's offense and defense lined up for what appeared to be a regular ol' red-zone period during Tuesday morning's practice.

Then the sound of a crying baby blared over the Haslam Field loudspeakers, following by the buzz you might hear around a bees' nest.

The soundtrack of annoying noises, to which new Tennessee coach Butch Jones alluded before spring practice began, finally made its debut as the Volunteers went to work.

"That just helps you stay focused," offensive lineman Alex Bullard said. "When we first started hearing it, we were like, 'What is going on?' Then we realized that was Coach Jones' way to help us stay locked in and stay focused.

"It really helped, because when we lined up, at first the noise was a distraction, but we learned how to clear that out and focus on what we had to do."

The sound of a high-pitched alarm and a car alarm followed as Jones intentionally tested his team's mental focus.

"It may be corny, but it is what it is," the coach said. "It's being able to focus and ex out everything. Playing in the SEC and having to play at Oregon, which some people have described as the loudest venue in all of college football, you have to learn to sort those distractions out.

"You have to focus on your communicative skills, your nonverbal communicative skills and your command presence, so we'll continue to grow as spring ball progresses in using that."

Jones said he wanted to make sure his team had a foundation before breaking out the annoying noises in Tuesday's 10th spring practice. Such intentional distractions will be a "staple" of August training camp, Jones warned. The players weren't expected the noises on Tuesday.

"It was weird, but you get used to it," said defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry. "You're in Neyland Stadium in you hear all this yelling and fans yelling at you, so you really block it out and just try to pay attention on what you have to do. We've just got to learn how to block everything out, focus on what you have to do and make plays."

After handily winning Saturday's scrimmage, Tennessee's defense lacked the same energy that led to their performance.

"Our defense has to understand, in order to play great defense, the mental effort, the mental intensity, the energy that it takes, you have to bring it every practice," Jones said. "Every day you've got to live that way. Just like toughness, you've got to live it every day.

"Our defense didn't have the same effort and the same energy that they had on Saturday. It showed in our last team period [when] they got beat 18 to 4. You can't have that to be a great defense. You play great defense by playing with a high level on consistency in everything that you do."

Even when annoying noises are blaring around you.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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