Better practice, better play

The Tennessee football team's 5-6 record in 2005 was unacceptable … much like the preparation that preceded it. If the old adage that "You play like you practice" is true, the Vols expect to be significantly better in 2006.

Asked where this year's team is compared to last year at this time, senior wide receiver Jayson Swain replied: "The standard's been raised. The bar's been raised. The demands have been greater, and it's been harder. But we survived.

"What don't kill you makes you better. The coaches threw everything at us you possibly could imagine, and I think we've come out of here with a good feeling."

Although the offense showed improvement in each preseason scrimmage, Swain isn't ready to say the attack unit has arrived.

"I think every day we're getting better," he said. "Are we there yet? No. We've still got a ways to go. Every day is important for us but I think we're taking steps every day."

Asked if the attack unit is where it needs to be, Swain shook his head emphatically.

"Oh, no," he said. "If we were satisfied with where we are now, there'd be no room to get better."

New offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe upgraded UT's tempo and toughness in spring drills, then upped the ante again in preseason drills. After battling themselves in practice for three weeks, the Vols are eager to slam into someone else.

"We're happy to be able to line up against somebody in a different color," Swain said. "We've been counting down from winter to spring to summer. Now it's finally here.

"Camp is over. It's game week and we're preparing for Cal. We're ready to play under the lights in front of 107,000."

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