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November 19, 2012
After a long and emotional weekend that included a historic loss to rival Vanderbilt and the subsequent firing of Derek Dooley on Sunday, interim head coach Jim Chaney wasted no time in getting the attention of players Monday morning at their regularly scheduled team meeting.
The sound of an air horn is a familiar one at Tennessee practices, used to signal a change in periods and drills. But Monday morning, Chaney utilized it to symbolize a working shift, that there was a change but it's time to work.
"For years, a horn or a whistle as been used for a shift change," Chaney said Monday morning after practice. "So it was symbolic of that. 'Guys we are in a shift change right now, wake up and let's go to work'. That's what we did.'"
For some players, it also symbolized a wake up call. After an arduous weekend where players were obviously filled with negative emotions, Chaney tried to again lift their spirits.
"He walked in and blew the (air) horn early in the meeting," running back Marlin Lane said. "He was like, 'It's a sudden change. Don't let anything get us down. Keep a smile on your face. Just execute everything you do.'
"I was actually surprised because it was still early and everybody was still kind of asleep and it just woke everybody up."
While Lane was surprised at the move, safety Moore wasn't too caught off guard because of Chaney's usually spirited demeanor.
"It's definitely good to have somebody like him in charge now since he is an uptempo, high-energy guy and brings a level of new energy and new spirits to us and it's easy to keep every body's heads up," Moore said.
To help keep the team's head's up, Chaney reminded them to play for the simple love for the game and block out the external distractions that have been plaguing the Vols recently.
"Just go out there and play football. He said it's a game you have been playing since you were 12. It's fun. Don't let all the distractions bother you from the game you love," offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James said of Chaney's talk with the team.
Chaney's message was also one to not linger where they are now and to move ahead and prepare for Kentucky.
"He came in and started off the team meeting off and letting everybody know we've just got to move forward," safety Byron Moore said. "It's a time of change and we've just got to keep moving."
Moore said that message stuck during practice as the players were able to hone in on the season-ender against Kentucky.
"It was business as usual. Everybody was out there focused, doing our assignments and flying around like a typical Monday," Moore said.
CHANEY TO BE ON FIELD
After being in the box for every game of his four-year Tennessee career, Jim Chaney will be on the field Saturday when Kentucky visits for senior day.
"I'm going to go down on the field. I'm going to call the game from the field which I have done in my past, also. I'm going to lean on my assistants a lot to help me and hopefully everything will go well," Chaney said.
It won't be the first time Chaney's been on the field, but it has been a while. Chaney also remembered being forced form the box against Ohio State when he coached at Purdue.
"I think Fullerton days. It's been a long time. I remember one time at Ohio State the headsets went out so we had to go down. That happens every once in a while in Columbus," Chaney said. "We had to go down on the field and I had to call it from the field that time. It's a little different setting but at the end of the day you're calling plays and getting them in and communicated as fast as you can so I don't see any issues with that as far as logistics to that."
BRAY STILL THE STARTER
After being benched in the second quarter and against in the fourth against Vanderbilt, Jim Chaney said he's sticking with Tyler Bray on Saturday.
"Tyler Bray is going to be the starting quarterback," Chaey said.
Chaney said it was a recommendation of his during the game to Derek Dooley to get Bray out of the game and let him sit some to calm his nerves after a poor start.
"Ultimately it's always the head coach's decision, but it was my recommendation. I thought that we needed a change and let Tyler sit down and calm down and watch the game a little bit and basically get his hiney in his pants a little bit," Chaney said. "I thought it helped a little bit but at the end of the day it wasn't all about the quarterback play. I didn't believe any area of our offense produced the way they have customarily done all season and it haunted us, it haunted us."