With less than three days before the season opener, the University of Tennessee football pumped in some crowd noise during this morning's practice.
"We had a lot of rat-trapping," Volunteers coach Derek Dooley said. "Made a lot of mistakes, a lot of the noise gets you thinking. Good thing we’ve got another day to try to polish it up. Went out there and tried to create a little chaos for the young guys, and that’s what it looked like. That’s why we have an extra day, and hopefully we can polish it up."
Dooley gave more praise to freshmen linebackers Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson, who are set to be the first true freshmen to start at UT opener since 1972 or maybe ever, as I wrote about in Tuesday's Times Free Press.
"They’ve been the same," Dooley said. "They’ve got a real steady demeanor about them, and they’ve been the same today as they’ve been all camp, they really have. I hope they can maintain that once the battles begin. I’ve been impressed with them, they have a real professional way about them.
In injury news, sophomore receiver Justin Hunter wore a red-non contact jersey as a precaution, and Naz Oliver, who was moved to receiver from cornerback a little more than a week ago, also didn't practice.
ODDS AND ENDS
UT's assistant coaches spoke with the media per the usual Wednesday post-practice policy, so there was plenty of talk about where the Vols are heading into Saturday's opener against Montana. Here are some notable quotes:
"Obviously losing a player of his ability is a big loss, but the good thing for us is Prentiss played safety throughout the spring, he's been working there a ton in training camp so it's not as big an adjustment as people would think for us. Obviously some guys who were expected to be in more of a backup role got time to get some significant plays now." -- secondary coach Terry Joseph on the loss of safety Janzen Jackson last week.
"We're trying to get the best guys on the field for that spot, and if they're there the best, whether they're a freshman walk-on, a senior scholarship, five-star recruit, no-star recruit, if they're going to be the best guy at that spot, we're going to start them and play them." -- defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox on playing two freshmen at linebacker.
"They are a base defensive team like many teams in our conference. They do a little bit of everything, but our gut feeling is that they are going to play a lot of base zone coverage and go play like they did all of last year. But who knows, there might be some new wrinkles." -- offensive coordinator Jim Chaney on Montana's defense.
"Those guys have been doing pretty good. They're working, they're getting a lot of reps with the twos so they're seeing some of those same things. We feel like some guys are making some progress. [Richardson] missed a lot of time, but he works hard and he's really determined to be a good player. It's just a matter of time." -- offensive line coach Harry Hiestand on backup guards JerQuari Schofield and Marcus Jackson and backup left tackle Antonio Richardson.
IN THURSDAY'S TIMES FREE PRESS
Two stories: one with defensive line coach Lance Thompson discussing his group's rotation and pass-rushing goals and abilities; Hiestand on finding continuity among the five offensive line starters and the group's communication; and what UT might do with its nickel package with Janzen Jackson no longer on the team.
For more continuous updates, follow Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter.