Install complete, experiments begin

Sign up or sign in to get this Tennessee football practice update from InsideTennessee.com. Be sure to come to IT for all the latest in Tennessee athletics.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — After 11 days of training camp, the Tennessee Volunteers have all but wrapped up installs and now it is time to focus in, do some experimentation and grind out the next two and a half weeks before the season opener Aug. 31 with North Carolina State.

The Vols got a quick pause in the wear and tear resulting for daily practice Sunday with an off day, but must forge ahead to accomplish the goals at hand even when the body starts to ache.

"First scrimmage is over and this is when it really starts getting tough because one day of recovery really doesn't do it for you," coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "You are going to be hurting — learning how to control your mind, to refuse to go out there and have a bad practice is very important. That is what we are doing.

"We are trying to learn how to be comfortable in a real uncomfortable setting. There are so many games out there that you get in a real uncomfortable situation and if you don't train your mind to overcome it when you do get uncomfortable then you will never play your way out of it."

Even with team chemistry at what seems to be an all-time high in the Dooley era, now is the time when leadership from players like linebacker Herman Lathers and quarterback Tyler Bray has to show up in a big way.

"I think some guys handled it really well and some guys — that is where leadership comes in," Dooley said. "I told them this is when leadership starts getting tested. We have great team chemistry, we have a lot of good camaraderie going on, but we don't need leadership when it's open-mic night. We need leadership when it hurts."

Now that the installs are complete, Dooley and his coaching staff will take time to see where personnel can best aid the 2012 Vols and the media got their first chance to see some shifting when the No. 1 defensive unit saw Maurice Couch slide out the defensive end with Daniel McCullers at the nose.

"This is a week where we can keep moving guys around for a lot of reasons, either evaluation purposes or contingency plans," Dooley said. "Mo, we put him at five-technique and put Dan (Hood) back at the nose. We will see how he does there.

"We are pretty much done (with installs). The bulk of what we are doing is in and now it is learning how to execute it and where do we put who where."

Another player that made waves with his debut in the No. 1 defense was cornerback Marsalis Teague, who took the field opposite Justin Coleman at the corner position, but it was his performance in Saturday's scrimmage that sparked the change.

"Marsalis had a really good scrimmage," Dooley said of the senior. "It was probably his best scrimmage since he has been here."

Teague finished the first scrimmage of training camp with six tackles and four passes broken up, which was the most by a defender.

"He started making some plays in the deep part of the field that historically he hasn't made," Dooley added. "He is doing it because he is playing with a little more confidence and he is trusting his technique. It showed on the film and I hope he continues."

And with the Vols' stay at Milligan nearly halfway completed, things couldn't be going smoother, in fact Dooley would like to stay a bit longer.

"It has been great," he said. "It has been an awesome experience. I don't think there is anyone in this organization that isn't saying, ‘This is a pretty good deal.' I texted Dave Hart to see if he would let us stay up here for six months … He didn't text back."

Watch as the head coach addressed the media following practice Monday:

Stay tuned for more Tennessee football practice coverage from InsideTennessee.com.

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.

Twitter | Facebook | E-Mail

Inside Tennessee Top Stories