Stripling, DeBord at prep football luncheon

Butch Jones couldn’t make the annual Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic kickoff luncheon Friday, so a couple of his top hands filled in, speaking briefly to room of barbecue-eating high school coaches. Not much in the way of revelations occurred, but I figure you’d want to hear what they had to say anyway. Football practice, after all, opens Tuesday.

D line coach Steve Stripling went first. He noted the Vols had the highest GPA in program history this spring with 52 Vols at 3.0 or better. He also mentioned that a sleep specialist visited with the team recently. He hit on several of Jones’ usual talking points — 64 percent of the roster in 2015 will have one year or less of college experience.

Expect to hear more about the 1-percent rule, as in get 1 percent better every day at practice. Stripling said that if the Vols’ D had gotten one more third-down stop per game they would have led the nation in third-down defense instead of ranking 14th.

Stripling introduced new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, saying he is “a perfect mesh with our staff.”

DeBord, who replaced Mike Bajakian, talked about analyzing every run and every pass from 2014, with special attention to the Joshua Dobbs portion of the season. The idea was to figure out what the offense did well and retain it, and to figure out what it didn’t do well and decide whether to ditch it or figure out how to improve it.

The offense will look very much like 2014, with a few tweaks. The tempo will stay fast.

DeBord praised the offensive line’s spring work and said in Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, UT has two of the best running backs in the nation. He feels good about tight end, singling out Ethan Wolf and Alex Ellis. DeBord would like a few more wide receivers because he plays to use a lot of them. He said the coaches will have to be careful in fall camp because a couple of receivers are “banged up,” one of them being Jason Croom.

Of Dobbs, DeBord couldn’t say enough good things. “When I heard he was an aerospace engineer major I didn’t know if he was going to fly planes or be an astronaut. I just knew that he was a heckuva lot smarter than I was.”

Dobbs, DeBord said, “is “everything you would ever want. Sometimes it’s almost too good to be true. This kid is unbelievable. For us to put our offense in his hands is outstanding.” Freshman quarterback Quinten Dormady had “a really great spring,” DeBord said.

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