August 6, 2007
At least Tennessee’s players and coaches won’t have to deal with another practice like Monday for the foreseeable future. Tuesday marks the first day in pads.
“Tomorrow we get to play a little bit of football,” head coach Phillip Fulmer said after Monday’s session of better than two hours. “The shorts and shoulder pads have been a success, but tomorrow we get to see what we’re going to be about.”
One thing Fulmer and the offensive coaches are about is piecing together the final two slots on the offensive line. Left tackle Eric Young, left guard Anthony Parker and center Josh McNeil are pretty well established, but it’s the final two candidates who have yet to be decided.
“We still have an issue at right guard and right tackle as to who’s going to take over those positions,” Fulmer said. “The attitude is good and work habits are good. Right now it is just a matter of getting to where we really play and see where we are.”
Fulmer also is looking for depth across the board on the offensive front, and sounded encouraged Monday that he is finding it in fresh faces. In addition to a trio coming off noteworthy springs -- Chris Scott, Ramon Foster and Jacques McClendon -- the Vols may have found two additional sources of talent.
“Ramone Johnson has made a move and Vladimir Richard has made a move,” Fulmer said of the redshirt freshman from Chicago and the redshirt sophomore from Sunrise, Fla., respectively. “Whether it is depth where they can help us or whether they push themselves into starters, that’s what the next two or three weeks will decide.”
The Vols coach said it was the “last stop before the bus stop” for a few of his guys, and the sense of urgency appears to be kicking in.
“I hope Vlad can give us some depth on the right side or eventually even at center; he’s such a good athlete. It has been a lot for him. He had never played offense in high school but he’s a bright guy and he’s starting to understand, and that has allowed him to use his physical play much better.”
Two Vols, Michael Frogg on the offense and Ryan Karl on defense, are being held out of Tuesday’s contact. Frogg is battling an illness while Karl continues to recover from a back injury suffered during summer workouts.
The team’s first true scrimmage takes place Saturday at Neyland Stadium, and the Vols open the regular season exactly three weeks later, Sept. 1, at California.