Dooley: "We've got to work on our ability to focus"


Tennessee shifts to Neyland Stadium on Saturday for the last major scrimmage of the preseason, but that wasn’t foremost on the mind of head coach Derek Dooley.

“We’ve really got to work on our ability to focus,” Dooley said after Friday’s workout at Haslam Field. “There were a lot of mistakes out there, mental errors, and I think it’s just part of maturing as a player.

“There are a lot of reasons for mental errors -- either you don’t listen in the meetings or you don’t take notes or you don’t work extra hours to study what you do or you can’t focus when you get here. I told these guys it’s not a dumb man’s game. You have to be able to be intelligent and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. We’ve got to do a better job of that.”

UT worked for more than two hours on a typical Thursday in-season practice. Dooley says the team is grinding right now as the calendar slides toward the latter third of August.

“This is a tough time. We’re in this tweener zone -- we started school, so we’re kind of out of camp, but we’re not really a week and a half into the game prep.”

Focus is the head coach’s buzz word this week. Dooley says it’s simply inexperience that leads to most of the problems.

“It’s a lot of the freshmen who make a lot of mistakes because it takes a heck of an investment to learn what to do. It takes reps, it takes study, and it’s just a big change from high school.

“All we can do is repetition and meet with them, and we’ve got 20 hours a week to do that. You can only get in so much in 20 hours.

The good players I have been around understand the importance of investing time outside on their own. All you can do is try to emphasize the importance of that. When they make mistakes, we don’t look the other way. We confront them. We have an expectation that they know what to do.”

Saturday’s final major scrimmage of the preseason marks another opportunity -- perhaps one of the last -- for players to show their wares to the coaching staff.

“All I can tell them is this is a critical scrimmage as it relates to evaluating personnel, what we’re going to do schematically and who we’re going to play the first couple of games,” Dooley said. “If that can’t motivate them, I don’t know what else can.

“It’s important. If you want to play the first few games, you need to play well (Saturday).”


Tennessee’s 2010 football season opener versus UT Martin on Sept. 4 in Knoxville is being televised on a pay-per-view basis across the state of Tennessee. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Eastern time (5 p.m. Central).

The announcing team for the game telecast is Randy Smith (play-by-play) along with former Vol Pat Ryan (color analysis).

Cable systems across the state of Tennessee are scheduled to carry the telecast from the VideoSeat pay-per-view service. Fans should contact their local cable system to find out how to order the game and receive price information.

The game also will be made available as a pay-per-view event to Tennessee Dish Network and DirecTV subscribers. Channel numbers and ordering information for home dish owners will be published the week of the game.

ESPN GamePlan is expected to offer the game to fans living outside the state of Tennessee via the ESPN GamePlan package. The game will be blacked out on ESPN GamePlan in the state of Tennessee and cannot be ordered as part of ESPN’s package.