Lincoln looking to bounce back

With a roster short on big-time talent, the Tennessee Vols project to play a lot of close games this fall. That means their place-kicker could be the difference between a 5-7 season and a 9-3 season.

Tennessee's chances of going 9-3 are greatly enhanced if Daniel Lincoln performs the way he did as a redshirt freshman in 2007. He nailed 21 of 29 field-goal tries that fall en route to first-team All-America recognition from The Football Writers Association of America. But another 5-7 mark could be in the offing if he performs the way he did as a sophomore in 2008, when he made just 10 of 18 field-goal tries.

Of course, Lincoln's kicking was just one spoke in a wheel of misfortune for the '08 Volunteers.

"A lot of bad things happened last year," the 6-0, 203-pound junior conceded this week. "You try to take the bad things, learn from them and move on, erase that from your memory.

"As a kicker you can't have a memory about the negative things. If you leave any doubt in your own mind, the next time you go out the shadow kind of overtakes you.

"You can't let the demons take over. You can't let the negativity of what happened in your previous experience affect your next experience. We all get opportunities this season to correct the mistakes that we made and get better from them."

Originally from Ocala, Fla., Lincoln has worked with a kicking instructor from the Sunshine State during the offseason. He has worked really hard in Knoxville, as well - on his kicking and his conditioning.

"As far as conditioning, running and everything, I'm doing the exact same thing all of the rest of the guys are doing," he said.

Asked how many field goals he kicks during an average summer day, Lincoln shrugged.

"You can kick more in the offseason because you don't have a Saturday scrimmage to work up to," he said. "You can get a lot more work done.

"As far as numbers, it's whatever your body can handle. Some weeks I'm working more in the weight room, working a lot heavier. That takes a lot out of you, and you can't kick as much. Other weeks, when you're lifting lighter and working on flexibility, you can kick a lot more."

Even his "light" days aren't very light. He says he and his Vol teammates are working diligently to make 2009 a successful season.

"There's nothing OFF about the offseason," Lincoln said. "We're just not playing on Saturdays. We're working out at 5 in the morning, going to class, then coming back and working in the weight room."


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