Vols prep for first scrimmage

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Saturday marks the first scrimmage of training camp for the Tennessee Volunteers after eight days of practice both in Knoxville and Johnson City, Tenn.

After a lackluster performance by the team at Science Hill (Tenn.) High School, head coach Derek Dooley wants to see another gear from the Vols.

"Obviously, I want to see us play with a level of intensity the entire scrimmage that we didn't always do last year," Dooley told reporters Friday afternoon. "Certainly you want your guys to go out there and execute — all your playmakers go out and make the plays.

"It is going to be a great level of evaluation for some of these guys that want to get in the mix and try and help the team."

One group that has impressed throughout camp is the linebacking corps, who, if they can just maintain a similar level of performance, will once again be one of the most improved position groups from spring to fall.

"Those guys if they just maintain what they have been doing, but more than anything they are quarterbacking the defense," Dooley said. "We want to see them have a real nice command of the calls, making the checks, making the adjustments and see how far along they are with knowing what we are doing."

Offensive lineman Antonio Richardson acknowledged the Orange & White offense must come out with a different swagger in Saturday's scrimmage, but he knows they will turn things around in a hurry.

"We know that we screwed up today and we are going to come out tomorrow with the right mindset for the scrimmage and get better as a team," Richardson said. "We have been practicing hard and the film shows that we have been practicing hard. We are just going to go out there and dominate."

And while Friday's practice may have not been the best showing by the offensive line, Dooley has noticed progress in that regard. However, not all of the progress is on the offensive line itself.

"They have had a good week," Dooley said of the offensive line. "We will see if they can go do it in the scrimmage. It is important the defense play a little more aggressive.

"The O-line is doing well, but we can do better on defense too — playing a lot more toughness, straining a little bit more, finishing to the ball. If we do that we won't have as much success running the ball. It is kind of a catch 22."

The idea behind the trip to Milligan College (Aug. 10-15) was all about removing distractions and becoming closer as a team, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of football to be played in the next five days.

"When it's ball time you got to be a baller," Dooley said. "You can't come up here, hold hands and sing Kumbayah the whole time. You have to go practice."

Weather permitting Tennessee will be back at Science Hill again Saturday in order to give the fields at Milligan College a chance to dry out following drenching rains over the past five days.

Watch as head coach Derek Dooley addressed the media following Friday's practice:

Following Saturday's scrimmage the Vols will enjoy a day off Sunday and get back to action Monday at 9:30 p.m. EST.

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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