Vols 'hit the proverbial wall'

Another early morning in the middle of a tough week of football resulted in efforts that weren't exactly what the Tennessee coaching staff wanted to see Wednesday at Haslam Field.

"We hit that proverbial wall today," Fulmer said after UT's 21/2-hour practice. "I thought the guys tried to push through it but we've got a lot of bumps, bruises and things going on.

"We've been careful with that and with trying to get ready for Saturday, but we've still got a football team to put together. Thursday will be a big day for us to push through; kind of an over-the-hump day."

The Vols have another two-a-day session slated for Thursday, an afternoon practice on Friday and then the next major scrimmage Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. Kickoff Sept. 1 at UCLA stands just 19 days away.

In an effort to get his squad's attention toward the end of Wednesday's workout, Fulmer blared fight songs from SEC rivals over the practice field loudspeakers.

"I turned that music on there at the end just to create some excitement on the practice field, and I saw everybody kind of pick it back up. Plus, I wanted our defensive guys to be making checks (in the noise) like when opposing teams have the ball (inside Neyland Stadium). It's really loud and we have to be able to communicate by signals, so we tested them pretty good with that.

"We'll do the offense at a later date."

Wednesday's physical workload and Thursday's double dose continue the coaching staff's efforts to prepare the Vols for an imposing early season schedule.

"I felt it was important that we had a good tough physical practice," Fulmer said. "They responded, but they're tired. We've gone at it physically but I also think we've gone at it smartly.

"We need to respond Thursday, but my focus is a lot more on Saturday than it is on Thursday."

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