Pi­cou ready to get job done to help de­fense

Coaches, team­mates laud DT’s work off the field

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports - RHI­AN­NON POTKEY

Ten­nessee’s Quay Pi­cou has never wanted his size to limit his op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The 6-foot-1, 277-pound ju­nior re­al­izes he doesn’t pos­sess the pro­to­typ­i­cal stature of a ma­jor col­lege de­fen­sive tackle.

“I ain’t got to be King Kong or noth­ing like that. As long as you get the job done,” Pi­cou said on Tues­day. “A coach once told me he don’t care how rocky the ocean is, just bring the boat in. You know what I’m say­ing. So that is how I look at it in ev­ery­day life, whether it’s foot­ball, school or any­thing. If I go through any trial or tribu­la­tions, no mat­ter what, just bring the boat in baby.”

Pi­cou is mak­ing a push for a big­ger role on a team in need of re­plen­ish­ment along the de­fen­sive line. The Ge­or­gia na­tive ap­peared in seven games last sea­son, fin­ish­ing with five tack­les and one quar­ter­back hurry.

In terms of gaug­ing his progress this spring, Pi­cou is tak­ing a more mind­ful ap­proach.

“Get­ting more com­fort­able and con­fi­dent re­ally. Be­cause I feel like if you be­lieve you can move a moun­tain, you can move a moun­tain. But if you go out and be a lit­tle timid and get de­feated in your mind then you can’t ac­com­plish any­thing,” he said. “So I have learned re­ally if you get things squared away men­tally then I can ac­com­plish any­thing and that re­ally goes for all my team­mates.”

Although Pi­cou cred­ited the work of new strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Rock Gul­lick­son for help­ing “trans­form some guys,” he said spring prac­tice has been a chal­lenge.

“Hon­estly feel like it’s been a re­al­ity check for me and a lot of other guys be­cause ain’t noth­ing like be­ing in foot­ball shape. You can be in the gym and you can be on that turf field there and can run as many sprints as you want, but you ain’t in foot­ball shape. It’s go­ing to be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent for you,” Pi­cou said. “So I can hon­estly say that be­ing in foot­ball shape has been a rude awak­en­ing for some guys. It’s re­ally taught some guys when the go­ing gets tough, you just have to put your head down and go baby.”

Pi­cou has been lauded by his UT coaches and team­mates for the strides he made in the off­sea­son. He’s been more vig­i­lant about do­ing the right things off the field to im­prove his per­for­mance on the field, which he be­lieves is a prod­uct of ma­tu­rity.

“I would say when you are a fresh­man and first get here some guys you fig­ure you know it all and some­times it hits some guys a lit­tle later,” Pi­cou said. “I think we all went through phases where we un­der­stood that you can’t al­ways eat what you want to eat, you can’t al­ways stay up all night play­ing video games. You have to take care of your body and you have to put the right things in your body in or­der to see the good that comes from that.”

Pi­cou has en­joyed work­ing with new de­fen­sive line coach Brady Hoke. Be­cause of in­juries along the de­fen­sive line, Pi­cou has been get­ting more reps and even more in­di­vid­ual time with Hoke.

“It’s been a fun ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause he re­ally gives each guy the op­por­tu­nity to get to know each other and he re­ally just took us un­der his wing and we learned from each other,” Pi­cou said. “He al­lows us to just be our­selves and play ball re­ally.”

Pi­cou played it coy when asked ex­actly how much weight he gained in the off­sea­son. “I might have put on a lit­tle some­thing,” he said with a grin.

As he pre­pares for an­other sea­son con­tend­ing with tow­er­ing of­fen­sive line­men in the SEC, Pi­cou em­braces an “if you can play ball, you can play ball” phi­los­o­phy.

“What I have learned is to play to my strengths. I am not the kind of guy that sits there and holds on some moun­tain. You play to your abil­ity,” Pi­cou said. “So if I’m quick, I be quick and things like that. Re­ally just play­ing to my abil­ity and stuff like that. I don’t re­ally fo­cus on go­ing out there and ad­dress­ing some­one taller and heav­ier than me or things like that.”

CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SEN­TINEL

Ten­nessee’s Quay Pi­cou is mak­ing a push for a big­ger role on a team in need of re­plen­ish­ment along the de­fen­sive line.

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