published Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Vols 'spirited' in latest drills

  • photo
    Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley watches his team play against Florida during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — Derek Dooley was so frustrated with how his Tennessee football team practiced Tuesday that he skipped his usual post-practice visit with the media.

The Volunteers' second-year coach took his typical spot in the center of a crowd of reporters, recorders and cameras following what he called a "spirited" practice Wednesday morning.

"I think a lot of [Tuesday's bad practice] had to do with us being a young team and not really understanding the expectations of an open week," Dooley said. "That starts with our coaches and me communicating, doing a better job of communicating what the purpose of the open week is and what our expectations are.

"What I talked to them today about is just defining a standard of who you are as a man and who you are as a competitor, and challenging yourself every day to meet that standard and not succumbing to the desires of the world or how you feel to where you might compromise that standard."

The Vols practice today before taking off until Monday. They host Buffalo on Oct. 1.

Fresh faces

Three starters on the offensive line -- left tackle Dallas Thomas, left guard Alex Bullard and right guard Zach Fulton -- sat out Wednesday's practice. There's no serious health concerns with any of them, just a chance to work some other guys.

Freshmen Antonio Richardson and Marcus Jackson worked at left tackle and guard, respectively, and redshirt sophomore JerQuari Schofield was at right guard.

"The open week has been good to help some of the guys that have been playing a lot and then to get some of the young guys a lot of work," Dooley said. "We're getting a lot of reps with some of the younger guys who hadn't played as much, and they need it."

The Vols' struggles running the football have been a point of emphasis during the bye week's training-camp style of practices.

"We're not being physical enough in the run game to be able to get what we want to against good opponents," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "That's a point of emphasis this whole bye week: Get our pads down and go hit somebody in the mouth and see what we can get done in the run game. We have yet to demonstrate that we're capable of doing that.

"I don't think we've evolved to that spot yet. We're trying to get there, though."

Snap solution

The general feeling about center James Stone's issues with low shotgun snaps is that it was a one-time problem, though UT has made it a big deal, Chaney said.

"He took it hard," offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. "He's a prideful guy. Nobody wants to do things that hurt the team, and some of that stuff hurt us, obviously. He came back with a good attitude about working."

Status updates

Ben Martin, who didn't start but played against Florida through a sprained ankle, didn't practice Wednesday as the Vols continue to manage the senior defensive end's health. Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt also sat out as a precaution. ... Secondary coach Terry Joseph said highly touted junior college transfer Byron Moore, whose only significant action has been on special teams, has dropped 10 to 12 pounds since the start of training camp. ... The Vols' running backs shoulder some of the blame for the poor running game, and Dooley wants to see more "violence" in their running. ... Dooley will be an in-studio guest Saturday on CBS as an analyst for the network's pregame, halftime and postgame show.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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