Vols feeling sorry for themselves

Derek Dooley and the Volunteer football team had their first back-to-back practice Wednesday afternoon and the head coach said his team was feeling a bit sorry for themselves. Go "Inside" to get the full scoop from Wednesday's workout.

Having not faced a back-to-back practice all spring Wednesday's practice without a day's rest left the Tennessee football players feeling sorry for themselves, much to the displeasure of their head coach.

Obviously we aren't near where we need to be from a mental toughness standpoint," said Derek Dooley.

Having two practices in a row was no excuse for the Tennessee head football coach.

"Had a lot of reason to feel sorry for ourselves a little bit, sore, tired, it's hot," Dooley said. "I told the team nobody really cares how you feel, because there is an expectation of how you do things every day."

Dooley said that learning to put mind over matter is what molds the great players.

"Learning to control your mind and your mind control your body is something that all great competitors can do. Its something that we need to work on as a team," said Dooley.

Perhaps the biggest concern heading towards the fall is the brand new group of offensive linemen who have been described as newborns by their head coach.

"Right now we are in the lay on our back and whine stage of offensive life. And it's not their fault, it's just like when a newborn comes out, they are screaming and whining and don't know what to do."

Dooley says going forward the coaching staff's main goal is to start with the basics with the line.

"Our first goal is really to get them to crawl. And right now we are kind of lying on our back thinking what is this new world that we are in," said Dooley of his five new starters.

Dooley added that progress is aided by motivation and solid coaching, and he will have his offensive line ready come August.

"It takes nurturing, encouragement, a foot in the tail, it takes making good decisions as coaches on what we call and trying to protect them a little bit so they don't get exposed," Dooley said. "I'ts not going to get solved this spring, it's just not, but it will be by the fall."

Another position where the Volunteers lack experience is at corner. With the early departure of Dennis Rogan the Vols are extremely inexperienced at the position, but Dooley was quick to compliment redshirt freshman Eric Gordon on his early efforts.

"Eric has done a great job," Dooley said. "He brings a lot of physical toughness and has a lot of spunk and competitive spirit. And that's a start. I have been pleased with his progress. He has his things he needs to work on, but you have to like his competitive spirit and that's where it starts."

Special teams are also a focus for the Volunteers new headman and he says they still need some work but are showing improvement.

"We had one kick blocked with the two field goals and that was a missed assignment, but for the most part we are showing improvement in our protection on punt and field goal," said Dooley.

Dooley added that special teams are a mindset and his players haven't found it yet.

"We still don't have the mentality as a coverage unit and a return unit to be good at it," said Dooley.

The Volunteers will shed the pads tomorrow before their scrimmage Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium.


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