The Vols took full advantage of their time off working toward a better second half after falling to 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
"I feel pretty good about how we handled the open date," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "I feel like we got a lot accomplished. We worked them pretty hard early in the week and then we came back and took advantage of the two days off and had a good energetic practice today."
Rather than spoonfeed workouts to players, Tennessee coaches instead turned to the players for focus topics during the open week to improve their talents going forward.
"Really what they let us do is they let us pick what we wanted to work on," Antonio "Tiny" Richardson said. "For me, I wanted to work on my step to the right on my zone plays and getting my sets better on pass plays."
Over the weekend, players got a chance to have 48 hours to recover from a physical week of practice, but an emphasis was put on rest rather than an escape.
"I think guys that weren't in town were really relaxing," tight end Mychal Rivera said. "Coach Dooley really stressed, 'Don't make this bye week a week where we come back more tired than we would have been if we played a game.' I think the whole team relaxed."
After a Saturday full of big plays on defense, the Vols took the extra time to return to the basics and clean up what turned out of be crushing blows in SEC games against both Florida and Georgia.
"Last week of practice was really physical," cornerback Prentiss Waggner said. "We were going through the gauntlet a lot last week. The main thing we did was get back to the basics last week of tackling and taking proper angles."
The Vols return to the practice field once again Tuesday morning at 9:15. This week's game with No. 19 Mississippi State will take place in Starkville with a kickoff time of 9 p.m. EST.