Tennessee finished up its fourth practice in three days Saturday afternoon at Haslam Field. After two practice-free weeks, UT head coach Derek Dooley was happy with the results from Phase II of the Vols' preparations for the Dec. 30 Franklin American Mortgage Co. Music City Bowl versus North Carolina.
"We had a great minicamp," Dooley said. "I was pleased with the attitude. They came to work and it was really physical. We worked on a lot of fundamentals and we worked on a lot of situations so I felt like our team got a little better.
"Now, we need to recover and turn our attention to North Carolina, which will start on Monday."
It was important for the Vols' development to go through a grueling three-day stretch in which they were able to readapt themselves to football. The Vols will have tomorrow off to recuperate and let their bodies rest.
"They were sore," Dooley said. "I think they were hurting a little bit this morning. That was the idea, to pound on that body a little bit and get them back into football shape. You have to shock it a little bit to say, ‘Hey, we're back in this season. Tell your body.' We won't hit for two days here so they'll physically recover and then we'll hit a couple days next week. I have a hard time showing up for a football game without hitting a lot.
"I just think you're going to play better. It worked out well. Fortunately, we didn't have any serious injuries. That's always the biggest thing you worry about. You don't want to get anybody hurt."
One of the many benefits to Tennessee's bid to the Music City Bowl is the additional practice time it allows, especially for a young offensive line.
"What that does is you start getting a little continuity," Dooley said. "You start hearing the same voice make the same calls and work together next to each other. That takes a lot of time. We're still in the early stages of their development and we can't forget that. Four practices aren't going to make them a great offensive line. Each day they work together next to each other, the better we get."
PROPST USES SMARTS TO EXCEL
Linebacker John Propst was one of four UT freshmen to earn All-SEC Freshman Team honors. It marked the third straight year that the Vols have placed a linebacker on the all-conference freshman squad (Daryl Vereen in 2008 and Herman Lathers in 2009).
"He's done really well," Dooley said. "He's a very intelligent football player. That's probably the best quality, football intelligence. He's instinctive. Those kinds of guys get better and better and play to their capacity. He's going to be a good, solid player for us."
Propst posted 14 tackles in 10 games, including a season-best six against Georgia.
UT will practice Monday through Thursday before taking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. The Vols will report to Nashville on Sunday, Dec. 26.