Getting back to 'Tennessee tough'

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The air is spiked with the trademarked crispness of fall, but Tennessee's practices aren't cooling down.

Far from it.

With fatigue setting in on players trudging through the dog days of the college football season, Butch Jones decided Monday it's time to crank things up.

Tennessee will practice in full pads this week as it prepares for Saturday's noon contest against No. 7 Auburn. The matchup against the Tigers makes UT the first team since Pittsburgh in 1993 to play seven ranked teams in eight games.

"We're going to get back to doing what we do: full-padded practice, live practices and we're going to be a tough football team," Jones said.

The outcry for increased physicality comes after a sluggish performance against Missouri, which saw the Vols give up 339-yards rushing and gain just 94.

"We're going to be a physically tough, a physically tough minded football team in everything that we do," Jones said. "We call it Tennessee tough and it's not just a fancy slogan and we have to get much tougher as a football team and I'm not going to tolerate it as a head football coach, as the caretaker of Tennessee football. Tennessee football is not going to be soft."

Jones has said time and time again that Southeastern Conference football games are won at the line of scrimmage. Saturday will be no exception. The Vols can't afford to play soft against the Tigers.

Auburn leads the SEC in rushing and is ranked sixth nationally, tallying 306.2 yards per game. The Tigers' Tre Mason is third in the conference in rushing and quarterback Nick Marshall has scampered for more than 500 yards this season.

Tennessee's rushing defense is ranked last in the SEC.

History shows that in order for the Vols to win, they must hold Auburn to less than 30 points. The Tigers are 301-4 all time when scoring 30 or more.

"All the teams that are successful, they have great defensive fronts. That's what I've come to find out relatively quick – you win with a defensive front," Jones said.

Palardy plays through pain

Michael Palardy's kicking performance against Missouri was impressive, but it became even more so after Jones revealed the senior kicker was playing through pain.

Palardy, who drilled a 51-yard field goal and dropped two punts inside the 10-yard line, was fighting through severe back spasms that kept him off the practice field Thursday and limited him on Friday.

"We didn't think Mike was going to be able to kick at all Saturday," Jones said.

Dobbs developing

Joshua Dobbs may have failed to lead Tennessee into the end zone in his first start, but Jones is far from displeased with the freshman's performance.

Jones said Dobbs' debut was filled with learning experiences, pointing to a 33-yard run where Dobbs failed to get out of bounce and fumbled as a result and an interception thrown before halftime on a first and 10 play.

"I think the experiences that he gained will obviously help him to move him forward," Jones said.

While Tennessee will demand a more physical practice week from it's offensive and defensive lines, the Vols best chance against the Tigers may be through the air. Auburn ranks 13th in the SEC in pass defense, ahead of only Missouri.

Dobbs, who threw 42 times against then-No. 10 Missouri, again drew praises from his teammates.

"(Dobbs) showed incredible poise and had great command," center James Stone said. "I saw a lot of great things from Josh."

Peterman will practice

Nathan Peterman is fully recovered from a broken hand suffered against Florida and will be a "full go" during practice this week, Jones said Monday.

Peterman did not make the trip to Missouri and still redshirted freshman Riley Ferguson acted as Dobbs' backup. Jones declined to say whether Peterman automatically stepped into the backup role, saying the quarterback with the best week of practice will be the No. 2 gunslinger.

Supporting Smith

Midway through the second quarter, a wide open Josh Smith streaked across the middle of the field.

Freshman quarterback Dobbs reared back and delivered a strike that bounced off Smith's hands to prevent what looked to be a sure touchdown.

Smith has struggled with drops all season, but Jones defended his freshman wideout Monday, saying he has "the best hands on the team."

"He's going through the maturation process of a true freshman," Jones said. "I believe in Josh Smith. He's going to be fine."

Butch Jones, per university


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