Vols shine in foul weather

The temperature was in the 30s. The wind was swirling and there were intermittent bursts of driving rain. It was, in short, Lane Kiffin's kind of day.

Shortly after putting Tennessee's football team through its second practice of the spring – a 2½ hour workout on Haslam Field – the new head coach was all smiles as he met the media.

"To come out on Day 2 and have bad weather like that was really good to see, after having good weather on the first day," he said. "I thought our guys responded well. No one sat around and worried about the weather."

Particularly impressive was the work of the quarterbacks and receivers. Despite the blustery conditions and the slippery ball, the passers were on target and the pass-catchers made some spectacular grabs.

"I thought the quarterbacks played great again," Kiffin said. "They ended up at 74 percent (Tuesday) and they completed almost everything today. I'm proud of where that's going."

Tennessee's quarterbacks took a lot of heat for Tennessee's anemic offensive performance last fall. Based on the first two spring workouts, however, rising senior Jonathan Crompton and rising sophomore B. J. Coleman are ready to bounce back in a big way.

"They've had great composure," Kiffin said. "They're not in pads but still there's a lot of stuff being thrown at them – a lot of plays, a new offense, a very aggressive defense over there.... Our defensive ends are rushing great right now, so (it's good) to see them (QBs) relaxed and doing some things, hitting some big plays."

Then, taking a good-natured dig at the circle of reporters gathered around him, the head man quipped: "You guys look dry, so I don't know if you saw any of it, but they hit a lot of big plays in 7-on-7 and team (period) both. And their guys (receivers) are making plays for them downfield."

Tennessee's wideouts made at least a dozen fingertip catches, which amazed the shivering media types who couldn't even feel their fingertips.

"They sure did," Kiffin said of the receivers. "Gerald Jones continues to make plays. Gerald Jones is the star of the team right now. It's just two practices and we're not in pads but I'm really proud of him."

Whether Tennessee can stand up to the national champ Florida Gators remains to be seen, but the Vols certainly stood up to Thursday's miserable weather conditions. In short, they showed the kind of mental toughness their coaches have been preaching about for weeks.

"Somebody said this morning it may rain, and I was hoping for it ... just to get our guys out there in it," Kiffin said. "You always want to be in the worst conditions you can be in to make game-day easy.

"I was glad for it."


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