Vols offense back to work after flawed scrimmage

Knoxville, Tenn. -- Tennessee’s coaching staff keeps applying the game-like conditions to preseason practice, and Monday’s ending to a hot and dusty affair at Haslam Field was no exception.

“It was good to get back out on the field today,” head coach Lane Kiffin said. “It was a very long, hard practice in a pretty good amount of heat, so that’s exactly what we needed. I thought the offense ended great in the four-minute (drill) with three long runs. Both scenarios were with more than three minutes on the clock, and the offense was able to run it out and score. The first offense scored; the second offense ran the clock out.”

It was not just another drill for Kiffin’s charges, but a way to perhaps win or ice a game.

“It was good to see because that’s what ball is about,” Kiffin said. “In a three-hour practice, just like a game comes to the end, you’ve got to do things right when you’re really tired in the fourth quarter.”

Kiffin also spiced up Monday’s workout by welcoming a couple hundred UT freshmen students, invited the night before in person by the head coach at an orientation pep rally.

Monday was Tennessee’s first time on the practice field since the team’s second scrimmage two days earlier, and the Vols head coach offered a few amended thoughts after viewing the game tape.

“There’s an old lesson -- ‘it’s never as bad as it seems; it’s never as good as it seems,’” he said. “I thought after the scrimmage, offensively, we really got beat physically and mentally. After watching the film, it was not really a physical issue. Guys were playing with very good effort. It was really mental. It was the first time we had gone out and had that many penalties and a bunch of missed assignments.”

He added that the quarterback play, while not as sharp as in the opening scrimmage, certainly was hurt by the entire unit’s inconsistency.

“Jonathan (Crompton) appeared better number-wise but Nick (Stephens) was very unfortunate with a number of drops and some plays that would have been very big third-down conversions. It was a group thing of guys not doing right, which obviously affected the quarterbacks.

“(The competition) is extremely close. If it was easy, that would mean one guy wasn’t playing well. And if that was the case, we wouldn’t be very good because you never know when you’re going to need your No. 2. I’m excited that they’re both playing well.”

Tennessee practices again Tuesday before taking Wednesday off for the start of fall classes. Practices Thursday and Friday lead into the team’s next big mile marker en route to the 2009 season opener Sept. 5 against Western Kentucky (Vol Network, SEC Network).

“What’s good is we have another preseason (scrimmage) game to go, this Saturday, our biggest preseason game of all,” Kiffin said. “I think our guys will be ready to go.”

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