Shells don't inspire energy

Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers switched up their attire and welcomed a few extra visitors for Thursday's practice. Read as InsideTennessee.com brings you all the latest from Thursday's practice

Derek Dooley hoped that welcoming a few extra visitors to Haslam field might spur a renewed energy level as the Volunteers approach the end of the third week of spring practice.

However, the combination of a high school coaching clinic and less pads didn't bring anything extra to the Vols workout.

"We got a high school coaches clinic in here and got a real good crowd for a Thursday," Dooley said. "I thought it would bring a little more spirit and energy level, but it was the first day we were in shells and generally an immature football team doesn't know how to practice in shells."

Dooley and the Volunteers spent the day preparing for their Saturday scrimmage. After a weak day on the offensive side of the football during their last outing Dooley is looking for improvement this weekend.

"Can everybody elevate their game? We really evaluate it a couple of different ways, one is the intangibles, the toughness, effort and the discipline the play with.

"Two is what kind of execution they play with. We are looking for individual improvement, but we are also looking for schematic improvement as a unit in all three phases."

One thing the players will see is a mix up in who plays against what team. Rajion Neal is an example of a player who got work against both the ones and the twos last week, but look for more mix-ups this week.

"We had Rajion going against the ones some last week too," Dooley said. "Some guys we mix it up. We always have a meeting on how we want to play the players and how many snaps they are going to get.

"We are trying to get a good fair evaluation of everybody on the team."

One thing that will definitely have to improve is the passing game. Tyler Bray and the new receiving core struggled mightily last Saturday, but even Dooley isn't looking for a miracle.

"It is pretty abysmal right now, so I could sit here, dream and say I think we are going to have a great day passing the ball, but the reality is, we will probably hit a few plays and probably not look very good.

"I am not being a pessimist, but when you watch eight practices and expect something totally different on the ninth you are somewhat a lunatic if you think it is going to happen."

One thing that will aide an improve passing game is the development of both Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. Hunter, specifically is in the middle of an almost complete remodel of his game.

"He really is starting all over," Derek Dooley said. "His thing is two fold, first is running the routes and second is playing with a little more physicality.

"When defensive backs are putting their hands on him – what to do. He is showing a lot of improvement and we have to keep figuring out what he does well and try to get him the football."

Both Rogers and Hunter seems to compliment each other well, but could be even more dangerous if they stole a page from each others' game.

"The thing about Justin is he can really pull away from a defender because he has got the long stride and he is really fast," Dooley said. "Da'Rick is a little better playing the more physical game on the perimeter."

Dooley and the Volunteers will spend Friday preparing for a scrimmage in Neyland Stadium Friday afternoon. Stay tuned to InsideTennessee.com for all the latest concerning spring practice.


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