That was especially true for senior defensive lineman Daniel Hood; he was the main one being dogged.
Several Vols were dragging a bit at the start of the workout due to the sweltering conditions but Hood had the misfortune to catch the eye of head coach Butch Jones, who is to practice tempo what The William Tell Overture is to musical tempo.
Barking into his microphone, Jones chastised the player at length, with the most memorable line being, "Taking somebody's soul. That's how you play football, Hood."
After practice, both coach and player shrugged off the incident as no big deal.
"I wasn't ready to play, so he came on (the microphone) and got after me," Hood said with a sheepish grin. "Things like that get you going. When your head football coach tells you that you need more passion, you either go or quit. It's a reality check. It's better to have it (correction) at the beginning of practice than to watch it on film that night."
Getting singled out wasn't exactly fun but Hood, a 6-foot-4, 277-pound Knoxville native, admits that several players – himself included – allowed the muggy conditions to affect them physically and mentally.
"You hate to be on the receiving end but, at the same time, it needs to be said," Hood noted. "Like he said, I wasn't ready to go at the beginning of practice, so it was a time where I had to either step up and meet the challenge or fade away and hide."
Jones' comments were made in the heat of the moment – literally – and not directed exclusively to one player, he explained.
"Daniel Hood is a very prideful individual," the coach said. "Sometimes I may motivate somebody and call them out but I'm really motivating somebody else. To whom much is given much is required. We talk about that to our team all the time."
Because Hood is a first-team defensive lineman and a senior, Jones holds him to a higher standard.
"There is something to be said about being a senior in our program," the coach said. "It's a standard and it's an expectation."
Jones said he noticed some lethargy as soon as the Vols took the field for Friday's workout.
"It's something I saw early," the coach said. "It's the first time we've had some adverse situations occur with the weather. I wish it would get hotter."
Hood noted that the Vols aren't the only Southeastern Conference team having to fight through heat and humidity these days.
"Everywhere we play in the SEC is hot right now," the player said. "Every team is going through that. You've got to push through it."
That's precisely the message Jones says he was trying to send – not just to Hood but to all of the Vols – as the head man was shouting into his microphone.
"I do see a grind to training camp, and that's what training camp is," Jones said. "That's where you've got to fight through. That's where you've got to push through. This is where your team is born.
"Going through the next couple of weeks, this will make or break our football team – from a leadership standpoint, from a physicality standpoint, from a mental conditioning ability to fight through and persevere."
The Vols' perseverance will be tested on Saturday. They'll have a workout at 9 a.m. on Haslam Field, then regroup at 6:50 p.m. at Neyland Stadium for their first preseason scrimmage.
"Today was the first real heat and humidity that we've had," Jones said. "I thought that was critical to the evolution of our football team – learning to fight through the elements when we become fatigued….
"Now you're kind of going through the dog days of training camp. This is where your mental focus, your mental intensity, your leadership, your team chemistry and your accountability has to kick in."