Derek Dooley's football team fused as one Saturday afternoon when the newcomers joined the veterans for the first time.
After three days of separate practices the full squad received high praise from the Volunteer head football coach.
"We had a really good practice today," said Dooley. "The best part about today was we had good energy, good intensity and the right mindset. I felt like we got better today."
The freshmen and newcomers seemed to step into the veterans' practice quite well Saturday afternoon. Dooley speculated that the transition had much to do with the high-energy practice.
"I think that probably contributed to the mindset," he said. "They saw more guys, which means more recovery sometimes, but it was good.
"The freshmen stepped right in. I thought they were prepared for it and I felt good about it."
Dooley and his staff are still in the installation process and moved on to red zone during Saturday's workout.
"We installed red area," he said. "Each day now we are installing something new. We have our goals that we always talk about when we install."
When it comes to Dooley's goals for his football team, it is merely a numbers' game.
"We want to score touchdowns, obviously on offense, 67 percent, and on defense we want to hold the opponents to 40 percent," Dooley said.
Four days into fall camp the new head coach felt that he has a solid grip on where his football team is now but he can't project past early August.
"I feel like I have a pretty good handle on where we are," Dooley said. "What I don't have a handle on is where we are going to be in a month."
Dooley emphasized the importance of improving on a daily basis, and the head coach has seen that improvement materialize in a big way since spring practice.
"I have seen noticeable difference in everything since spring practice," Dooley said.
Kicking into Gear
"Very talented, very talented, they really are," Dooley said. "I was really super pleased watching them.
"They have a good mindset. They are technically very sound and in some ways as good as I have seen coming out of high school. They have a lot of ability."
Prentiss Wagner sat out Saturday's practice due to concussion-like symptoms. Dooley emphasized erring on the side of caution when dealing with blows to the head. Wagner is expected back for Sunday's practice.
Defensive tackle Marlon Walls left the field with what appears to be another Achilles injury.
Ben Martin is expected to miss the majority of the 2010 season with the same injury. Dooley didn't know yet about the severity, but expected a full report come Sunday.