As students flood into Knoxville and the fall semester gets underway, the Volunteers coaching staff faces a whole new set of obstacles.
Those new factors seemed to affect the Vols just one day before classes begin.
"A little sluggish today," said Derek Dooley. "What happens now is kind of the next phase."
"School is starting, and when school starts there are two distractions that come with it. One is an important one, school, and the second one is human nature, girls."
Dooley said he began to notice wandering minds during meetings Monday night leading up to the team's last two-a-day session on Tuesday.
"There was a noticeable drifting of the minds in the meetings last night," said Dooley. "I could sense it, and today there wasn't the kind of focus we need."
The Volunteers' focus will be extremely important as the season looms just two and a half weeks away.
"When you walk through the door you shut out what is on the outside and focus on football," Dooley said. "That is something we have to do a little better job of."
Getting feisty may not be the head coach's style, but if his players don't come in with the right focus he will revert back to a similar form the Vols saw after their last sluggish practice of fall camp.
"You have to beat it in them every day," he said. "I think the big thing is you can't allow them to come in without focus.
"When they do they know they are going to get confronted and we are going to get a little feisty on them."
Dooley said the distractions are only natural when you spend most days around 120 guys, and it's just human nature.
"You get the training camp blues, you have been around 120 guys, the coaches are beating on you and then all of a sudden your eyes get … holy smokes," he said.
"It's been going on since the beginning of time. It's not something new at Tennessee."
Dooley and the Volunteers will resume practice Tuesday evening 7:30 p.m. at Haslam Field.
Stone at Center
The Volunteers have struggled to identify solid center prospects, but with four new offensive linemen the coaching staff is testing true freshman James Stone.
"We are just looking for centers," said Dooley. "I thought we would be doing a disservice to our team if one of the four linemen we signed didn't get a shot at center."
Dooley said the move has been unnatural to this point, but the coaches will continue to keep an eye on Stone and his progression.
Offenses Determine Defense
Derek Dooley said opposing offenses will likely play a large part in what the Vols do on defense. That may be most evident with the rotation of defensive ends Malik Jackson and Gerald Williams - two players who Dooley said bring different skill sets.
"I think a lot of our defense is going to be predicated on who we play and their style of offense," said Dooley. "Malik brings a lot more size and bulk to line up over a tight end when they are hammering a two-back running game.
"Gerald brings more stuff when the down gets looser. They are going to complement each other well."
Expectations for Arthur
When you hear of a player coming off a torn ACL, not playing his senior year of high school and red-shirting his freshman year of college, you surely wouldn't expect much, if any, production. That may not be the case for defensive tackle Arthur Jeffery.
"In a normal situation the realistic view would be you have no chance to play this year," said Dooley. "We need you to develop, but we aren't in that situation. What's realistic is you may see him out there."
Hamilton Handles Schedule
It has been widely reported that Athletic Director Mike Hamilton is trying to reschedule a series with the North Carolina Tar Heels beginning in 2011. Derek Dooley had his first chance to address the issue following Tuesday's practice and said he has complete confidence in Hamilton's decision.
"Mike handles the scheduling, but he doesn't do anything without at least getting my thoughts on it," said Dooley. "He has a really good understanding of what is important to the fans and our program. I have a lot of trust in how he is managing the schedule.
"I think he is doing a great job on it. That is stuff I defer to him. Obviously, if I was in big disagreement with what he wanted to do, I would express that and he would probably respect it."