Derek Dooley is starting to notice a theme amongst his young football team and the theme is frustration – and it needs to change.
"I think the biggest think I have noticed in the first four or five practices is the young guys, when things don't go their way, learning how to play out of it, refocus on the next play, not get frustrated, because as we all know every game has a big ebb and a big flow, and it is constantly changing," Derek Dooley said.
Dooley has specifically sited the frustration of his young skills players including receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter.
"Right now it is more of an issue of youth, they haven't been in the fires enough," Dooley said. "I told them, nobody has ever been through a season where things always went their way, and rarely do you ever go through a game, so why are you surprised when things stop going your way."
Derek Dooley has noticed a significant upward progression in the strength of his football team this fall, now it must translate to the field.
"I have seen a lot of physical improvement," Dooley said. "I think we have a lot of good young talent, especially on offense, but it's a long way to go to play with consistency."
One player who may be a step or two behind in the physicality department is Justin Hunter, or "Bones" as he is known to his teammates for his exceptionally thin build.
"His biggest thing right now is his stature and his strength," Derek Dooley said. "That is something he is going to have to work on to be a good every-down receiver.
"When people get their hands on him they push him around. His strength development is very important this summer."
From Court to Turf
Senior point guard Melvin Goins has decided to test his skills on the football field. A stellar on-ball defender for the Tennessee basketball team, Derek Dooley says if Goins continues on the football field he will be an all-star.
"He averaged, I look on the stats, 1.7 steals a game," Dooley said. "I told him he would make all conference if he just keeps up that pace in football.
Dooley says Goins will give football a shot throughout the spring mainly in individual work and then will be given the option if he truly wants to invest heading into the fall. Goins has not played football since his freshman year of high school.
When Dooley was asked where he saw Goins, at corner or safety, Dooley replied, "I see him as a point guard right now."
Receiver Matt Milton is almost an exact replica of Justin Hunter when it comes to body-type, but the sophomore didn't make near the noise that Hunter did during 2010. Derek Dooley says Milton is hard at work, but unfortunately had a set back this spring.
"Matt had a phenomenal off-season, but he hit the gate yesterday," Dooley said. "We threw a corner route to him and he hit his head on the gate, but we have helmets so he is ok, but of course he is out of contact for a day."
Milton was in a red non-contact jersey for Tuesday's workout, but should return to full-go come Thursday for the Vols next practice.
Sophomore offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James will likely miss the remainder of spring practice due to mono and he even got a hard time from his head coach.
"I told him – I always thought mono you got from kissing girls," Dooley said. "Usually you get it at a young age. Ja'Wuan kind of waited, I told him you must have waited to kiss your first girl till college."
The loss of James means Notre Dame transfer Alex Bullard will move to right tackle to rep with the first team. Unfortunately, Bullard was slotted to appear elsewhere on the offensive line.
"We are going to put Bullard at right tackle, but we were really hoping to rep Bullard some at center," said Dooley. "We were getting ready to do that to see if he could play center, but our hands are tied at tackle."