Tennessee made it through the first of two practices Thursday just before the noon hour and ahead of another hot and humid day in Knoxville.
Head coach Derek Dooley called the morning workout a sort of “start-over.” The Vols completed seven practices including Tuesday’s first scrimmage, and then took Wednesday off. Thursday morning, they returned to Haslam Field for the first of three workouts heading into Saturday night’s second scrimmage.
“I think the big thing is that the players don’t just get into the endurance part of training camp and they stay focused on improvement,” Dooley said. “We have them all each day improving on some value -- whether it’s discipline-toughness-effort, improving on one thing fundamentally and one thing schematically.
“So (we’re) keeping them focused on making sure we come out here with a purpose.”
Tennessee practiced again Thursday night, marking one of only two sets of true two-a-days this year. UT’s other twin practice date is this coming Tuesday.
Dooley said that while most of the installation work is in, the fun is just beginning.
“We’re starting to get on the tail-end of the install, but what’s changed now all of a sudden is the deceptive part of the game. They line up in one thing and shift to another right before the snap -- you’ve got to be able to make the adjustment. That’s new.
“But there’s not going to be a lot more ‘stuff’ from here. We’ve got to get better at what we’ve got.”
Dooley joked that his youthful offensive line was especially thrown off by the morning defensive stunts.
“If I asked them what did (the defense) do, they have no idea. Have you ever looked at one of those kaleidoscopes? That’s what those guys see, just orange shirts doing this and this and this. No clue.
“It’s hard and it takes time, but we’ve got to go. We can’t baby them.”
Sophomore defensive tackle Steven Fowlkes drew notice from the head coach Thursday. The College Park, Ga., native played in only three games last season but finds himself in a crucial spot on the defensive front heading into 2010.
“He needs to gain some weight, but he’s doing well,” Dooley said. “When he gets in trouble is just when he gets overpowered. We call it a deuce block, when we put about 640 pounds coming at about 250 -- do the math. It gets hard.”
Sophomore safety Janzen Jackson still is being slowed by a hamstring issue; Dooley lists him as day-to-day.