Return of old memories, smokey grays

InsideTennessee brings you all the latest Tennessee Vols news. Scroll down to read a notebook packed with a uniform update and all the latest from the Vols' Tuesday practice.

Three Tennessee offensive linemen strolled into the football facility for what they thought would be a routine night of extra film.

It ended up being a trip down memory lane.

Ja'Wuan James, Zach Fulton and James Stone started watching film on Vanderbilt during their off night Monday. It began with the Vols-Vandy game from 2011. Then came the 2010 game, when all three were freshmen.

The room soon erupted with laughter.

"We looked so terrible," James said with a chuckle. "It was fun."

The three buffet bashers ended up watching film of the UT–Martin, Ole Miss and Memphis games from 2010.

It wasn't pretty.

"It was crazy to see how bad we actually were," Fulton said. "We understand why coaches were yelling at us all the time now."

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Added James: "Back then, you think you're doing kind of good, but it looked terrible. We've come far."

Not far enough, according to James.

Tennessee's offensive line has received much criticism after a string of lackluster games. The worst of which was a 94-yard rushing performance at Missouri.

"We have a bunch of guys doing good here and doing good here, but all five of us haven't had our greatest game together," James said. "We have two opportunities to do that. I feel like we can."

Tennessee posted respectable rushing numbers in its last game against Auburn, piling up 127 yards.

But James said the offensive line attacks each week with a "snap and clear" mentality.

"Missouri was the set back and Auburn was a little bit better," he said. "No matter what happens each game, we come out the next week and work."

Tennessee coach Butch Jones, who regularly bills his offensive line as the best in the country, isn't about to call the group's season a great success. He's also not going to call it a failure.

"I think they've had a ton of expectations, and very deservingly so," Jones said. "I think they've performed well at times."

Gray returns

Tennessee will be dusting off its smokey grays for Saturday night.

The Vols will wear their new alternative gray uniforms against Vanderbilt, Jones announced Tuesday.

Jones said the decision was made by a "unanimous" vote from the seniors. Jones also said he and players have talked about making the grays a "more standard" jersey option.

Rivalry redemption

Finding motivation won't be a problem this week.

Dontavis Sapp remembers looking up at the scoreboard, then scanning the faces of his teammates after the Vols were thumped 41-18 by Vanderbilt last season.

Like the rest of his teammates, Sapp is determined not to let it happen again.

"They've been doing some great things over there. But we're excited to get them in Neyland Stadium and play a little ball, play a little smash-mouth football," Sapp said.

Tennessee-native Jacques Smith said the rivalry with the Commodores means something more to him and other in-state Vols.

"Most certainly," the defensive end said. "It's a big rivalry and something we take pride on here at Tennessee. We are the state's team. …I can't wait to go out on Saturday."

Tennessee's offensive line holsters three players from the Volunteer State – Alex Bullard, Antonio Richardson and Stone.

While James, a Georgia native, insists there hasn't been any increased rivalry talk from his teammates this week, he understands the importance of Saturday.

"We want to win Tennessee basically – be state champs," James said.

Being nasty

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Tennessee's defensive line is focusing on regaining a "nasty streak" this week after tallying just three sacks in its last three games.

The Vols' lone sack against Auburn came from freshman cornerback Cameron Sutton.

"We have to have more want to and more drive up front," Smith said. "It's something we've lost in the last couple weeks."

Tennessee coaches called for live, full-padded practices during last week's bye. Smith dubbed it a wake-up call.

"We hit. We played a lot of tough football. It was a lot of tough drills," Smith said. "It was something that we needed. We needed more physical reps. I think it will help a lot."

Jones isn't about to place all the blame for the sack woes on the defensive line, saying running quarterbacks make coming up with sacks difficult. It also doesn't help that Auburn only threw the ball seven times.

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