Tennessee’s only Sunday practice of the preseason had a strong mid-season feel to it, with as much contact as permissible during the four-day acclimation period.
“I would much rather say ‘whoa’ than ‘sick ’em,’” head coach Phillip Fulmer said. “The middle of practice was tough on some of those big guys, but they pushed through it. We had some real intensity in our team work, which I like.”
The Vols battled heat and humidity for nearly three hours at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, marking the third of a scheduled nine consecutive practice dates to begin their 2007 camp.
“We’ve been challenging them to be tougher, challenging them to be good players along that line of scrimmage,” Fulmer said. “The first team, they go at each other pretty good and stay on their feet. They are playing with good pad leverage, playing with intensity and you don’t have a bunch of piles.
“The second team and third team, they’re trying to scrimmage because they’re trying to get themselves on the field. We had a couple of them go at it a time or two and that’s a good thing. Intensity is something you want in practice.
Fulmer said that while he never wishes to reach a point where the intensity is counter-productive, he still appreciates the fire he has seen in the early going.
“I had to tell them to back off a little bit today from nearly scrimmaging. Other than that, there wasn’t much difference from a normal practice day. And the defensive line in particular today took the challenge.”
The Vols are counting on senior tackles J.T. Mapu and junior Demonté Bolden leading the defensive middle this season, with junior Walter Fisher and sophomore Dan Williams among the veterans in the mix.
“They are trying to take the challenge that is out there for them and J.T. is leading the way,” Fulmer said. “He and Demonté had really good days today and that’s encouraging. I’m a lot more interested in making sure we have that intensity and then backing off rather than trying to get them to go hard. That’s a lot better scenario.”
Tennessee is in Vol gear again Monday before going to full pads Tuesday. The team’s first true scrimmage takes place Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The Vols open the regular season Sept. 1 at California.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information