August 8, 2007
Out of the sun but not out of the head coach’s eye.
That’s one description of Tennessee’s Wednesday move indoors to escape dangerous heat indexes of better than 100 degrees. Yet the results inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center were not to head coach Phillip Fulmer’s liking.
“I don’t know that we had great work in here to be honest with you,” Fulmer said. “I think our youth showed up a little bit today.
“They are tired, I know, and beat up after our first scrimmage on Tuesday. But when we practice like today, it’s hard to say we got enough done. Hopefully, we’ll be better tomorrow and our leadership will show back up tomorrow.”
Although not air-conditioned, the 120-yard indoor practice field provided cover from a blistering sun that has challenged the Vols during this first week of preseason camp.
“We were out on the field for three hours and 10 minutes Tuesday and I wanted to be sure we had some legs left as we go the rest of the way through camp,” Fulmer said. “This keeps the sun from sapping us and the heat index from sapping us.”
Wednesday was Tennessee’s sixth consecutive day of practice to begin fall workouts. And although the grind continues through the week, an early harbinger of the 2007 season hits during Saturday’s first full scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.
“Everything we’re doing right now is in preparation for Saturday’s scrimmage,” Fulmer said. “We’re trying to look at the people we think can make a difference.”
Head athletic trainer Jason McVeigh said the advantages to practicing inside were a much lower heat risk because the players were out of direct sunlight.
“We provide the coaching staff with weather information that is a combination of temperature, heat index and humidity,” McVeigh said. “Inside the sports complex today, it was cool enough to make a large difference.”
Another advantage to indoor work was Tennessee’s continued preparation for the Sept. 1 opener at California. Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium has a Sportexe artificial playing surface similar to that of the Neyland-Thompson field.