C0-written by Sumner Gilliam
Friday morning Mike DeBord walked in for his first official press conference in Neyland Stadium as the Vols offensive coordinator with Butch Jones at his side.
Jones opened the press conference by explaining the process he went through in the search and what he was looking for in a new offensive coordinator. “I needed someone that could be on the cutting edge of football,” Jones said.
He also talked about style and wanting to know what a candidate thought about the offense and how to improve it. Jones said when he asked DeBord, he got an NFL anwser: “match ups.”
Jones had a specific list of qualities needed for the job. “I wanted someone that could walk in and fix problems,” Jones said.
According to Jones, it was a coast-to-coast search and the job was very popular with some big names – though Jones did not comment on anyone in particular. Jones added that he needed someone that could manage a coaching staff, an experienced coach and a relentless recruiter.
Jones spoke about getting the right fit for the job, which included the ability to fit in with the family approach of the coaching staff – stating that they spend ’80-90 hours a week’ together.
Jones gave an update on injures that will affect spring practice. Derek Barnett, Jason Croom, Kyle Phillips and Alex Ellis may not be able to participate in the spring due to injures, in addition to Marquez North and Jakob Johnson who could miss some parts of early spring.
Jones was asked if the transfers of Drae Bowles and D’Andre Payne had anything to do with them being named as witnesses for the grand jury in the ongoing rape case involving former Vols A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams. “That had absolutely nothing to do with them transferring,” Jones said.
When DeBord spoke, he expressed his happiness to be coaching again. “I get to do what I love – coaching at the college level as a coordinator,” DeBord said.
He answered questions early about how learning a new offense would affect him and about how hard it would be to transition to a spread system. Jones and DeBord both placed an emphasis on not calling the offense a spread, rather a mix of up-tempo and no huddle techniques.
“Football is my passion and I love it,” DeBord said. ” I don’t feel like I have to adjust at all. I believe in what we are doing at Tennessee.”
DeBord added, “There is always something new to learn. We are going to add things from my pro experience.”
When asked about what he thought of Joshua Dobbs, DeBord said “I haven’t had much time with him, but I can already see improvements. We are going to do what the quarterback is comfortable with in the passing game.”
DeBord expressed a willingness to get back into coaching. He wanted to do it last year – and had some opportunities – but they fell through. When asked why Tennessee was a good fit for him, DeBord said “Where [Tennessee football] is at now and where it is going, I wanted to be a part of it.”
Jones and DeBord spoke briefly about their relationship and how they have kept in touch over the years. DeBord commented on how this job at Tennessee will be different than when they were together at Central Michigan. “We had a passionate head coach and a passionate assistant coach. Things are the same here… just the roles are reversed.”
DeBord added that he and Jones talked ‘at least once every two weeks or so’ since he left Central Michigan.
Jones mentioned how much Tom Brady bragged on DeBord, as well as the capacity that Peyton Manning played in the search. “We have great resources at Tennessee like Peyton Manning,” Jones said.
Overall, the Vols’ offense will not change drastically under DeBord, but rather improvements will be made with an NFL-style approach.
Edited by Cody McClure
Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman