Knoxville (UT Sports / WVLT-TV), As the Vols head into Saturday’s game versus No. 7-ranked Alabama, the goal at practice Wednesday was to continue to regain their competitive edge.
“Our biggest thing is developing a brand of who you are as a competitor and what our team is as competitors,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “We went several weeks where the brand was moving in the right direction. I think people were respecting the way we competed and respecting the way we went out there and laid it out on the line. We took a step back last game. I think it’s very important to reestablish that.”
While each game brings its own unique adversity and momentum swings, Dooley wants the Vols to be able to withstand anything that comes their way.
“All I care about is competing and that’s all I tell them,” Dooley said. “I just want to see us go compete like you’re in the back yard. When you’re in the back yard, you don’t back down. You don’t get your head down when your buddy completes a pass on you or when the next door neighbor beats you on a double move post. Competing means not getting affected and playing aggressive. We’re not there yet.”
One unit that has been challenged to play with a more competitive fire has been the Vols’ secondary, who responded in today’s two-hour session at Haslam Field.
“They’re trying to be more aggressive,” Dooley said. “We made a good stop today in two-minute. (They’re) playing more confident, getting their hands on them, challenging them. You can’t play this game and not be physical and aggressive. It’s impossible and that’s how we have kind of been.”
Volunteer-TV's Wes Boling attended Alabama football practice on Wednesday and spoke with coach Saban and a couple Tide players afterwards. With regards to coach Dooley and the UT program, coach Saban told Wes, "..that there's a personal side to it that we're going to be friends for the rest of my life and it has nothing to do with how you compete in the football game, now the football game is very important, it's important to tennessee, it's important to Alabama, it's important to our fans, their fans, our program, their program, but that's aside from personal relationships." Click on video link to see Wes' entire story from Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.
UT INJURY REPORT
Tennessee will have to compete without placekicker Daniel Lincoln and may be without offensive guard JerQuari Schofield.
“JerQuari may not play.” Dooley said. “He’s more in an emergency role. He’s not ready yet but he’s really progressing well.”
If defensive tackle Montori Hughes is able to go it will be in a limited role, leaving the Vols’ defensive front thin. While the season’s injuries have seen the Vols transition defensive ends into the middle at times, Alabama’s size up front and running attack won’t allow UT to make those same adjustments.
“We have Vic and Malik who will be starting and rolling over Joseph Ayers,” Dooley said. “We need them to hold up as long as they can. This is not a good game for our ends in there who weigh 250.”
McCOY ADDED TO CFL WINNIPEG’S PRACTICE ROSTER
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Wednesday they have added former Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Rico McCoy to the practice roster.
McCoy was most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after going undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. He appeared in all four preseason games with the Bucs and finished with three tackles before being among the team’s final cuts.
In college, McCoy enjoyed an outstanding career with the Volunteers and was named a Second Team All-SEC player as both a junior and a senior. He finished his collegiate career with 344 tackles, two sacks, one interception and eight forced fumbles – six of which came during his senior year.