The Tennessee newcomers joined the veterans Friday afternoon on the team's fourth day of practice. Coach Derek Dooley's new challenge becomes teaching his team how to overcome adversity as kickoff on Sept. 3 nears.
"We got a little sluggish in the middle," Dooley said. "After four practices we are not a very good football team, but we have a lot of good-looking football players.
"Probably the most important thing we can do is learn how to endure and overcome adversity when it hits us."
Adversity has been a common theme of Dooley's press conferences since arriving on Rocky Top. And there was plenty of adversity to be had in Year 1.
"We didn't handle it well last year," he said. "We looked at a lot of the data in the fourth quarter last year. We had three games where we were tied or within one score entering the fourth quarter and we went 0-3 in them.
"The good news is we were 3-0 when we were ahead one score. What we have got to do is overcome when we are behind, over come bad things happening and not be a front-running football team."
Dooley will now stress creating a new mind-set on Rocky Top.
"You have to put them through adversity and when adversity hits we have to try to coach them to play out of it," Dooley said. "It is a mindset. It has to become a core value of how you compete. That is where it starts."
Jackson will miss time
Senior defensive tackle Malik Jackson will likely miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained knee. Jackson was seen walking around without assistance following Friday's workout, but was out of his shoulder pads.
|Senior linebacker Austin Johnson warms up at Haslam Field.|
Newcomers staying steady
During their first practice with the Tennessee veterans the new Volunteers didn't appear to have changed at all. Now Dooley will wait to see who materializes into true contributors.
"They looked about like they did when they were by themselves," Dooley said. "They look talented and they don't know what to do. They run around fast and they play hard. I think we have a really good class. Time will tell."
Of Dooley's 25 new players, many will be expected to step into a contributing role immediately.
Carson is old school
One of Tennessee's newest defensive lineman is Allan Carson of Oxford, Ala.
Seemingly overweight, Dooley called Carson an "old school guy" following Friday's practice when he was seen walking off Haslam Field exhausted.
"He weighs ... a lot," Dooley said. "Allan is an old school player, because in the old days they came to training camp to get in shape.
"Now days they start in June and train all of June and July. He is kind of throw-back guy, so he came to training camp saying, 'OK get me in shape,' so that is what we are having to do with Allan."
Carson is officially listed at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds, according to the Tennessee sports information department.
Mixing it up
Dooley finds himself with a slue of versatile defensive players, especially linebackers. Given his current predicament the defensive sets are going to be ever-changing during Tennessee's fall camp.