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Secondary coach Willie Martinez: Tennessee's improvement showing

October 8th, 2013 9:16 am by Evan Woodbery Knoxville News Sentinel

Secondary coach Willie Martinez: Tennessee's improvement showing

Tennessee coach Butch Jones said he didn’t have to say much in the aftermath of Saturday’s 34-31 overtime loss to Georgia.

The Vols’ leaders did the talking for him.

One of those leaders is senior linebacker Dontavis Sapp, a valuable reserve and special teams player for the first three years of his career who has played nearly every snap during his final season.

“Dontavis Sapp is a great leader,” said Vols secondary coach Willie Martinez. “Whatever Sapp says, those guys listen ... Effort is an easy thing to say, but to do it on every play is a lot harder. He’s done that.”

Martinez spoke briefly on Monday to the Knoxville Quarterback Club. He fielded two questions from the audience before dashing back to campus for a staff meeting.

It’s an off week for the Vols (3-3, 0-2 SEC), but coaches are staying busy. Tennessee faces No. 14 South Carolina (4-1, 2-1) on Oct. 19 (TV: ESPN, noon) at Neyland Stadium.

Martinez said the narrow loss to Georgia was tough, but the effort from the players was encouraging.

“We talked all week about being one Tennessee, about team unity and 11 guys working together,” Martinez said. “You saw it. We played with great effort.

“Everything we do is fast-paced with the idea of going 100 percent. It’s something we grade very hard.”

Martinez said the team’s goal is to continue to build on this year’s progress.

“From Game 1 to Game 6, this football team has improved,” he said. “We were one play here or there away from winning. We always say that every play has a life of its own. It could be the first or the 70th that makes the difference in the game.”

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