Tuesday marked the beginning of the end for the Tennessee football team, of spring practice that is.
Derek Dooley and the football team entered Tuesday's practice after a scrimmage that Dooley said had no shortage of errors, most of which came in simulated situations of the last four minutes of a game.
"It was amazing the number of critical, game changing mistakes that we made during the stretch. I think I counted fifteen and I am talking about penalties, poor snaps, dropped passes, simple things," Dooley said after reviewing the film from Saturday's scrimmage.
"The lesson is you don't have to do anything special at the end of the game you just have to do the common things uncommonly well."
Dooley added that it is obvious that the last four minutes have to be a point of emphasis given the results of years past.
"I did a little research for the team to show them how important those last few minutes are," Dooley said. "The last two years we have had a chance to win seven times in the last four minutes when it was a one-possession game or maybe a ten-point game. We didn't win one of them."
One of Tennessee's biggest concerns is at the center position. It seems that although Dooley is concerned he has found his two contenders for the starting spot.
"Still concerned, but we are starting to see some promise from Cody Pope," Dooley said. "We have been using Cody with the ones. He and Victor (Thomas) will be battling it out for now."
The California native is now undergoing his third position change, as Pope has moved from guard, to tackle and now center.Early Enrolls Excelling
Miller and Smith both had the opportunity to work with the first team during last Saturday's scrimmage and Dooley was impressed.
"Those two guys are going to be really good football players for us, Jacques Smith and Corey Miller," Dooley said. "Great attitudes, great character, they play with tremendous effort and toughness and have a lot of good physical skills. I am glad they are a part of our program."
Dooley believes the two will be an important part of Tennessee's football team even as early as this fall.
"Yes, I think they are progressing at a really rapid pace," Dooley said. "I think they are going to be important to us this year."Seniors to Return Saturday
Jones needed a walking boot after suffering an injury to his left ankle, while Stocker is currently out with a shoulder injury.JaWuan James
Normally a true freshman wouldn't fit into an offensive line's depth chart, but when a team is fielding five new starters things change.
JaWuan James is proving to be worthy of a starting spot early in his career as a Volunteer.
"JaWuan, we forget he is a high school guy," Dooley said. "He is quietly going about his business. We aren't noticing things out of him, but that is a good thing because we aren't noticing him a lot. That means he is just functioning and that's a heck of a statement for freshman."
Dooley and the Volunteers will resume practice Thursday afternoon before concluding spring practice at Neyland Stadium for the Orange and White game Saturday afternoon.