published Monday, August 4th, 2014

Tennessee football practice report: Mike Bajakian OK with Vols' QBs using private coaches

Mike Bajakian
Mike Bajakian
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — When Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley and Josh Dobbs traveled to California earlier this summer to train with well-known QB guru George Whitfield, they did so with Mike Bajakian's blessing.

Some coaches don't want their players learning from such outside sources.

The Volunteers' offensive coordinator is not one of those coaches.

In fact, Bajakian, as he said following Tennessee's practice on Sunday, encourages it.

"The reality is I didn't invent the position," he said. "I didn't invent the mechanics. I'm a product of the coaches that I played for and the coaches that I've been around. The language I speak and the coaching points I make from a technical standpoint are a composite of all those coaches.

"I understand that there's great coaches everywhere."

Worley and Dobbs, who has his own personal QB coach in former UCLA assistant Quincy Avery, both said they learned from their time in California. Whitfield has trained multiple NFL quarterbacks, most notably Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel.

When Tennessee's two quarterbacks were there, they were part of a 16-player group, and Whitfield hosted another set of college quarterbacks the following week.

At least a couple of big-name college coaches, though, don't want their quarterbacks learning elsewhere.

"You want them thinking exactly like you want them to think," Auburn's Gus Malzahn told AL.com in March.

"We've got good quarterback coaches," Florida State's Jimbo Fisher told USA today late last month. "My guys aren't going out there. I'll coach them. When they go to pro ball, they can do whatever they want. We'll coach our guys. I don't think it benefits you. We know what we're doing, too."

Bajakian knows Whitfield well enough that he'll grab a bite to eat with him when he's recruiting out west.

"We talk technique, so I know we're on the same page," he said. "For them, to me, what do we want? We want football junkies. We want guys that wanna learn the game and guys that wanna improve. And maybe George has another way of saying something that might click with our guys, which is great.

"Frankly, if they can bring that, I can learn from that. I'm always looking to develop professionally, too. When they come back from that, I sat down with each of one those guys, and I drilled them, 'Hey, what'd they talk about? What'd they do? What kind of drills did you do?'

"I know these guys can learn from other guys, too."

Monday practice observations

• Monday afternoon's practice provided the first team period for open viewing, but there were only a few items to take from the short session. Nathan Peterman actually was the quarterback with the first-team offense and made a couple of plays with his feet. Freshman tailback Jalen Hurd had a bruising run between the tackles, while fellow freshman Josh Malone hauled in a deep pass from Justin Worley later in the period. Devrin Young also turned a quick, wide throw into a long gain, although Tennessee's defense essentially was playing two-hand touch since the Vols aren't yet in full pads.

• Here was how the first-team defense looked in that team session: Corey Vereen and Curt Maggitt at defensive end, Danny O'Brien and Jordan Williams at defensive tackle, A.J. Johnson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin at linebacker and a five-defensive back look of corners Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, safeties Brian Randolph and Devaun Swafford and nickelback Justin Coleman.

• A handful of newcomers got looks with the second group defensively, including defensive ends Dewayne Hendrix and Derek Barnett, defensive tackles Dimarya Mixon and Owen Williams, linebacker Dillon Bates and safety Todd Kelly.

• Sophomore receiver Josh Smith's strong start to preseason practice had him working with the first-team offense during both the Vols' walk-through and team periods ahead of Malone. The freshman drew Zach Azzanni's ire during one period, as the receivers coach yelled at him to "lock your [butt] in and grow the [heck] up!" Worley also got on Malone for dropping a pass in the routes-on-air session.

• Tennessee coach Butch Jones is likely to clear this up after practice, but receiver Pig Howard did very little during the open period and appeared to be either dehydrated or overheated. As the receivers went threw drills, Howard, who was dressed out but had his gloves off, kneeled near the fence and received attention from trainers, who were trying to cool him down.

The junior's future with the Vols appeared over back in the spring, but he got back on the track laid out in front of him by Jones and Tennessee's player staff in May and stayed the course since and had a solid start to camp, according to Azzanni.

"He's had a great three days," he said. "Knock on wood, he's been outstanding. His work ethic has been unbelievable. His mentality's been unbelievable. His play has been unbelievable.

He's like a different player from last year as far as he now knows what I expect. He's been great, so we're taking it one day at a time with him [and] not putting too much on him, not so many expectations.

"Just one day after the next day after the next day, and hopefully he's running out of that 'T' with us."

• Bajakian was on his quarterbacks for their being too many balls on the ground as the group continues to work on improving their accuracy. The Vols worked on back-shoulder throws early in practice. Worley has been more accurate throwing the ball in the open periods so far, but none of the quarterbacks stood out on Monday.

• Fourth-year junior defensive tackle Allan Carson has "decided to move on" from the program, Tennessee spokesman Jimmy Stanton confirmed before practice. Carson will graduate at the end of summer school. The 6-foot-1, 318-pounder from Alabama signed with the Vols in 2011 and appeared in five games as a freshman but didn't play in a game during the past two seasons.

More from Monday's practice online and in Tuesday's Times Free Press.

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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