Young Vols invigorate practice

Tennessee entered its bye week Tuesday afternoon with a highly spirited practice. Fresh faces led to an up-tempo and physical session. Read as InsideTennessee.com gives you all the latest concerning Vols football.

It may be the Tennessee Volunteers bye week, but the Vols are cranking up practice with the addition of some young and fresh faces.

Head Coach Derek Dooley has said younger players will have more opportunity to contribute as the year progresses and that opportunity started Tuesday afternoon.

"A lot of the young guys got in there," Dooley said. "They were active, hungry, physical and playing after the whistle, so that was good.

"It brings a little spirit to the practice, no scout team and all that other stuff. It's like going out there in the yard."

With no scout team and no team to study, the Volunteers worked strictly on fundamentals during Tuesday's practice.

"Worked a lot on tackling, perimeter blocking, blitz pickup, space coverage – a lot of good work," Dooley said. "We needed it, we could use about a hundred of those."

Win or lose, Dooley expects the same tempo every week in order to continue to improve as the Vols move through their remaining schedule.

"That is what we expect from them. I would have been disappointed in them if they hadn't," Dooley said.

"I told the team, we have a lot of improvement to do, but the good news is there is a lot of improvement to get done throughout the season."

Dooley is set on having a short memory. With the team only halfway through the season the second half shouldn't mirror the first.

"What you do the first few games doesn't mean that is what you are going to do the rest of the year," Dooley said.

Quarterback Matt Simms was surprised to see an up-tempo practice today – one that even led to a few extra hits.

"Everyone was really energetic and ready to practice," Simms said. "The coaches definitely got our tempo going early. It was a practice just like camp – it was tough, it was long and we got a lot of reps in.

"We ran 7-on-7 and usually that is just two-hand touch, but our defense was straight up tackling us. I didn't appreciate that too much, but that is just how it goes."

Some of Simms' playmakers may have been taking a few extra licks, but not Simms. He said his defensive teammates know better.

"They were hitting everybody besides me, but they know I would get up and try and fight," Simms said.

Special Teams, Starting Point

Derek Dooley said special teams will be the starting point for his young players to enter the field and gain substantial playing time.

"The guys that are doing well on special teams, that is really the starting point," Dooley said.

Freshmen Raiques Crump, Dontavis Sapp and John Propst, all defensive players, were activated on special teams and will have their first shots to contribute on coverage units.

"Those three guys are doing pretty well on special teams," Dooley said.

Confident Corners

Quite the contrary is what Derek Dooley has seen. Wide receivers have established dominance over the Tennessee corners and Derek Dooley said it is starting to affect the players out on the edge.

"Its something we need to work on. We are not playing aggressive, we aren't challenging them the way we need to, and I think that comes with confidence and practicing well," he said.

"When you give up a lot of yards and you get beat it starts affecting you. You have to work your way back through it to get the confidence."


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