Hot, Hot Heated Vols Tuesday practice

Record-setting temperatures in Knoxville on Tuesday afternoon played a significant role in the football team's practice. Go "Inside" to see how Head Coach Derek Dooley and his Volunteers dealt with a heat wave in April.

Derek Dooley and his football team took to Haslam Field on a spring afternoon with records high in the mid-80s. The record of 84 degrees was set in 1967, and Knoxville tied that mark Tuesday.

Dooley said the heat definitely took a toll on his players in the latter part of the workout.

"Hot, so we had a little weather change and that gets tough," Dooley said.

"We had a great tempo the first half of practice and then its starts getting on you, you get tired, you start finding reasons to quit and not be disciplined. We tailed off a little down the stretch and we have to work on that."

And while the heat may have bothered some players, it's guaranteed that one didn't even notice the temperature. Linebacker Nick Reveiz peeled off his red non-contact jersey for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury last season.

"He was out here today strapping it on. We have to pull the reins on him. He wants to go every snap," Dooley said.

"This was his first day really back hitting and I was real pleased to see him moving around, flying around, noticed him, so that's a good sign. We have to manage his reps. That's part of coaching; if we didn't he'd be out there flying around every snap."

Dooley got the first real evaluation of his team after its first scrimmage last Thursday afternoon and relished the opportunity to see the film.

"You got your first real evaluation of the personnel," Dooley said. "You evaluate six practices and a scrimmage and put it all together and then you anticipate what lies ahead the next two weeks."

And while Dooley said he and his staff aren't going to make rash decisions based on limited playing time, it was time to make some changes, namely at the quarterback position.

It appears that Dooley has scaled back the first team repetitions of senior Nick Stephens. Those snaps will be taken by newcomer Tyler Bray and transfer Matt Simms.

"We are going to keep evaluating every couple of weeks," Dooley said. "We are probably going to increases a little the reps of Matt and Tyler, and back down Nick a little bit. Giving everyone an equal opportunity."

Stephens admittedly struggled during the Vols first scrimmage last Thursday afternoon, saying he played anxious and uptight.

At first it was just Dooley that acknowledged Simms' presence in the huddle, but that evaluation seems to be finding its way to senior leadership in a hurry. Wideout Gerald Jones has been impressed with Simms as well.

"I like his whole swagger, his whole demeanor," Jones said. "I played for (Erik) Ainge and (Jonathan) Crompton and he is a total different quarterback.

"His whole swag is positive and he is confident. He is confident in himself and in the players around him. His weakness right now is just getting used to the offense and timing. I really like his enthusiasm."

While Dooley has said that the quarterback battle won't be settled by the end of the spring, Jones seems to think differently, at least for now, saying the matter could be solved by Saturday's scrimmage.

"I think this battle will be decided anywhere from this Saturday to next Thursday," Jones said. "Right before the spring game they will make the decision who the boss is going to be. For now anyways, we still have two-a-days to go."

Even with the quarterback position in question at least one player will almost assuredly be protecting him. Left tackle Dallas Thomas has solidified himself as one of the more talented newcomers on the Vols young offensive line.

"The guy who has been the most consistent and I think really has a chance to be a good player is Dallas Thomas at left tackle," Dooley said.

"Of all the guys he seems the most comfortable. He plays with the best technique consistently, he is playing with a nice calm, and playing aggressive. I feel like he has a chance to be a really good player for us."

Dooley and the Volunteers will resume practice Wednesday afternoon, marking the first time the Vols have gone back-to-back this spring.

"This will be our first back-to-back practice," Dooley said. "We go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, then Saturday. We are really limiting what we are putting in now, and our focus is on execution."

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