Vols weather bad weather in second spring practice

KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) -- Although Tennessee’s coaches have done everything possible to prepare for spring practice, spotty weather forced the Vols to adjust their gameplan on the second day of UT’s 2011 spring session Wednesday.

“We had a lot of adversity today,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “We went outside, inside, outside and back inside so it was sudden change, but it was a good lesson. We had a little rain and got some wet ball work. It was a good beginning to start conditioning the mind when things don’t go as planned.”

After defining UT’s first practice of the spring Tuesday as ‘smooth’ and ‘crisp’, Dooley was pleased with how his team handled the adjustments on day two.

“They didn’t take a step back but a lot of the change disrupts routine,” Dooley said. “I mean it when I said it. It’s good when things get a little disrupted because you have to get it back quick. You can’t let the momentum shift on you. Overall, each day is going to get a little harder because the multiples get bigger and bigger. The more stuff you put in on offense and defense and the more variables there are, the more you’re thinking and the execution starts breaking down.”

The Vols, who spent the first two days of this week in helmets and shorts, will strap up pads Thursday.

“I hope it’s a physical practice,” Dooley said. “I told them today that I’ve never seen one team win a conference championship that wasn’t physical. It doesn’t happen. They need to go to bed tonight with a physical mindset tomorrow. It’s going to be day one of turning us into a physical football team.”

After quarterback Tyler Bray amassed freshman records of 1,849 passing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010, it remains to be seen on what his sophomore year will bring after UT’s three leading receivers from a year ago, all seniors, are gone.

Despite the youth of Bray and his young core of receivers, no one is taking it easy on them.

“We’re putting everything on him and those guys are doing really well right now,” Dooley said. “Each day, there’s more and more and more. We’re not really limiting Tyler (Bray), Da’Rick (Rogers), Matt (Milton), Justin (Hunter) or any of those guys this spring. This spring is going to be for really trying to put as we can on them and see how they respond to it.”

Thus far, they’ve responded to Dooley’s liking.

“I’ve never seen a good team and good players become champions and work the minimum,” Dooley said. “It requires a tremendous investment when they leave this building. A lot of people don’t like to hear that. Those guys have taken over the role of knowing it’s their passing game. When you take that kind of ownership, it puts pressure on you to go out there and perform and it puts pressure on you to prepare. I think they’ve been handling it real well but we’ll see. Time will tell.”

Defensive back Prentiss Waggner set a school record by returning three interceptions for touchdowns in a single season and earned Second Team All-SEC honors from the AP in 2010. But he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“Every year I prepare like I’m competing for a job,” Waggner said. “Last year was only my first year playing. Every year, I just have to take with a chip on my shoulder. All of us in the meeting room are just pushing each other and making each other better.”

-Defensive back Marsalis Teague, who missed two games last season due to turf toe, is still rehabbing from that injury but said Wednesday that it’s much better.
-Center James Stone, who snapped with his left hand last season, is currently in the process of switching to a right-handed snap. Stone has been inconsistent early on while adjusting to making calls but that was expected according to Dooley.
-Vols fans can order 2011 season tickets by visiting uttix.com or calling (865) 656-1200. UT opens the 2011 season vs. Montana at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 3.

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