Hitting the home stretch

It was all about coming down the home stretch of spring practice for quarterback Matt Simms and the Vols Wednesday afternoon at Haslam Field in their next to last practice before Saturday's Orange and White games.

Without elaborating on specifics, Simms said he did not want to just take the last week of practice easy, but use it to work on what he called "the little things."

"Those little things are just seeing the defense better, making better reads on certain plays, good footwork and just a bunch of little things that you really can't account for," Simms said.

With Simms stepping in as the forerunner for a quarterback corps depleted by Nick Stephens' departure, the junior transfer said that having receivers with experience has aided him in practice, and will aid him come Saturday.

"It‘s great to have people like that around," Simms said. "They're certainly confident in themselves and the teammates they have been with before. I need people like that around me just for the simple fact that I haven't been here as long as they have."

During practice, fellow quarterback and freshman Tyler Bray was having noticeable trouble with his accuracy. Senior Gerald Jones said it can be easy for a young guy like Bray to be flustered when he makes mistakes.

"Most of the time, it comes with timing and just with him making decisions quicker," Jones said. "Speed will kill you in this league. Sometimes you have a day like that where a young guy will throw the ball all over the place."

That does not mean, though, that every missed pass was Bray's fault.

"Sometimes it's the receiver's fault. Our offense is very detailed. Every yard counts on every route. So we can be a yard short and it can mess up the whole play."

Junior tailback Tauren Poole said that for him, Saturday's scrimmage is all about showing his coaches and the fans just what he can do and what he has been doing in practice.

"I feel like I've got a lot to prove," Poole said. "I feel like this game solidifies what kind of a spring I had.

"I hope that (the fans) see that we've made a lot of progress."

To Poole, it's more than merely breaking runs. Progress, in his eyes, is playing smarter football.

And athleticism can only get you so far.

"I'm not where I want to be, and none of us is where we want to be" he said.

Coach Derrick Dooley did not speak with the media after practice.


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