Derek Dooley and the Volunteers are preparing for their first nationally ranked opponent of the 2010 football season.
The head coach didn't see what he wanted out of his Vols during Tuesday's practice, but Wednesday was a different story.
"We did a good job of coming back after yesterday," said Dooley. "If you have a bad day you can come back and there is always tomorrow."
Without that improvement the Vols may not have shown up for Saturday's game, Dooley joked.
"It was a lot better, it was bad yesterday, but we made a lot of improvement," he said. "If we didn't improve today we may have called off the game, but we got better and we are going to go out there and compete."
With an injury to Gerald Jones (broken hand), the young Vol receivers will need to step into a leading role for Saturday's game.
"The offense did a good job, the young guys are doing good this week preparing, but we need to have one more hard workday tomorrow," said Dooley.
The Vols other starting wideout, Denarius Moore (ankle), returned to practice Wednesday. The senior missed both Monday and Tuesday sessions and was wearing a walking boot before shedding the boot at practice Wednesday.
"He is obviously not going to have the work that he would normally have had he practiced all week," said Dooley. "He is a senior, hopefully he will be ready to go and he will know how to get ready."
After being shuttled to UT hospital during Tuesday's practice, center Cody Pope returned to the practice field in a limited role Wednesday.
Tight end Luke Stocker was seen in a red practice jersey during Wednesday's workout. It appears a nagging shoulder injury is still bothering the Vols All-SEC tight end.
Defensive tackle Minor Bowens missed Wednesday's practice due to a staph infection. Apparently, Dooley's Vols have struggled with their showering techniques, prompting a "Vol for Life" lesson on the lathering power of soap.
"We have had a few staph infections, so we did a clinic yesterday on proper shower technique," said Dooley.
Dooley told the media the Vols needed some instructions on soap-to-rag application as well as avoiding cutting corners in the shower.
"I told them we have the worst shower discipline of any team I have ever been around.
"I am hoping we show some improvement on that," Dooley said, causing laughter among the Knoxville media.
Reining in Gordon
While Eric Gordon's feisty attitude may serve him well on defense, if the young cornerback wants a shot at punt returner he may need to settle down a bit.
"He does (need to settle down a bit) and that's a little bit of the discipline part," said Derek Dooley. "You have to rein Eric (Gordon) in sometimes because he gets really emotional."
Part of the reason why the Vols might not settle on a return man until game day may be that Dooley doesn't know the high school assignments of the majority of his players.
"Eric (Gordon) was a wideout, runner, returner, I get here and I just assume he was a defensive back," said Dooley. "You have to learn about these things over time."
Wilcox Gets Shot at Oregon
Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has been scheming for his alma mater all week. Luckily, Wilcox is on Dooley's side – well he assumes so.
"I am assuming he is going to be pulling for us, which is big," said Dooley with a smile.
Dooley said the profession encourages allegiance changes throughout a career.
"When you are in this profession long enough, we switch shirts and you can switch loyalties pretty quick," said Dooley. "That's what happens when you are getting paid."
Quarters System an Advantage
The Oregon Ducks are on the quarter-semester system unlike the Tennessee Volunteers, meaning the Ducks haven't started school yet. Derek Dooley said this can be an advantage. Dooley experienced the quarters system while at Louisiana Tech.
"I was on the quarters system for three years and I thought it was a real advantage early in the season," said Dooley. "We are here for school, but the good thing about it is it's like being in the NFL for two weeks."
Although there may be one disadvantage, or at least there was at little Louisiana Tech.
"The bad thing is you aren't in class, the students aren't here and the game day the students don't come, at least at (Louisiana) Tech," Dooley said with a smile.
The Volunteers will resume practice Thursday afternoon at Haslam Field.