UT's Thursday's Practice Notebook

Get all the news and notes from Thursday's spring practice notebook. Go "Inside" to hear the points of emphasis and player reactions to all that is going on with Tennessee football this spring.

Spirits Up

While all the buzz surrounding Tennessee football lately has been around the loss of Bryce Brown and Aaron Douglas the head coach says practice was still up-tempo and spirited Thursday afternoon.

"Good spirited practice today," said Dooley. "It was a real spirited practice, it was physical, and the defense really did a nice job, especially in our run periods. So I was real pleased with how today went."

Special Teams Special Emphasis

Head coach Derek Dooley isn't fooling around when it comes to special teams during spring football. Freshman tailback and return man David Oku says it a big time focus for his new head coach. The Volunteers even used three practice periods to focus on special teams in Thursday's practice.

"Its really important. Coach Russel stresses it real bad. When he was at Tech they did a lot of good things so he wants to continue that. And coach Dooley said if he is not top five in the country he is going to mad at us, so I'm not about to get in trouble," said Oku.

Oku said specials teams under the new coaching regime are far less complex to understand.

"I think its a lot simpler than last year. Last year, there were good coaches and stuff, but more of making everyone think to much," said Oku.

Simms Feels Good

Coming off surgery on his throwing wrist JUCO transfer Matt Simms seems to be healing and performing equally well.

"Everything is going really well right now," said Simms. "As long as I don't crack it on somebody's helmet it will be alright. Injuries come and you just have to overcome that."

Simms also said he now feels comfortable and at home with the Volunteers after moving around early in his college career.

"Its just going out there and playing the game and having fun finally in a place where I feel comfortable finally," said Simms. "Now that I am here I am happier with myself and happy with the situation around me."

Nothing Can Surprise Jones

Wide receiver Gerald Jones has been through numerous coaches and watched numerous players leave his football team. At this point the senior says there isn't much that could surprise him at this point.

"Nothing would surprise me because I have seen it all. I have been through so many coaches, so many players leaving and so many players being kicked off its crazy. It seems like its a long journey because I was just thinking I think we have about 20 freshman coming in and its down to about nine. Everyone has been falling off one by one," said Jones.

Buying In

Despite losing two key aspects of the Tennessee football team is this very young spring camp Gerald Jones says its not due to the fact that players aren't buying in to Derek Dooley and the new coaching staff.

"I think a lot of people are buying in," said Jones. "Because they want to win so bad. All the adversity this team has been through in the past three or four years is crazy. A lot of people are just putting all that behind them and believing in the system, the coaches and what they have us do."

Bryce Brown in the Building?

Freshman running back Bryce Brown, who left the team, was seen in the football facility Thursday afternoon, but the head coach didn't see him in the facility while he was coaching his players.

"I have not had any discussions with Bryce," said Dooley. "I never saw Bryce. I was out there coaching the guys out there. I didn't even know he was here."


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