KNOXVILLE (utsports.com) -- Rather than reflecting on how the past few weeks have gone, Tennessee is focused on how they can improve with the remaining days, two now, that are left in spring practice.
"I don't really have a place that I want them to be after three weeks," head coach Derek Dooley said. "All I ever really evaluate is, are we getting better each day. How much better really doesn't matter as long as we are getting a little better. I felt like we have gotten better so I'm happy at this point.
"I won't be happy if we come out tomorrow and don't get a little better. That's all I measure it on. Every day, are we getting a little better than we were yesterday? Is the organization better? Is the program better? Is the team better? Are the coaches better? As long we stay on that track, we'll get to where we want to be."
The Vols stayed on that track Tuesday afternoon inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
"We had an excellent practice today," Dooley said. "This is always the harder one because you're now into that last week of spring football. We only had two practices left, two real ones. We're in helmets on Thursday. It was important that we came out here and got a lot of work and make some improvement. I felt like every player needed to pick one thing that he could improve on these next two days. That kept us pretty focused and I proud of how the team responded."
Defensive back Prentiss Waggner is one of 42 preseason candidates for the 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy Award, which honors the top collegiate defensive player in the nation. Waggner is one of 19 defensive backs and eight SEC student-athletes who are eligible to win the eighth annual Lott Trophy.
"I'm surprised to be nominated for this prestigious award, but at the same time, it's a big honor for me," Waggner said. "My goal is to be better than last year and improve on my weaknesses. If I work hard, everything else will take care of itself."
VOLS ANNOUNCE CELEBRITY GUEST COACHES FOR DISH NETWORK ORANGE AND WHITE GAME
Dooley announced Tuesday that two longtime Knoxville media members, radio host Mickey Dearstone and Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Mike Strange, have been named as celebrity guest head coaches for the 2011 Dish Network Orange and White Game, held this Saturday, April 16, at Neyland Stadium.
Dearstone is the host of the "Doc, Jeff, and Heather" morning radio show on The Sports Animal FM 99.1 (WNML-AM). He serves as the station's program director and has worked 23 years in radio, including 14 years on the Vol Network as the voice of Lady Vols Basketball.
Strange is currently in his 29th year with the News Sentinel, having joined the newspaper in 1983. He has covered Tennessee football and men's basketball since 1984.
WITH THE FIRST PICK...
A Wednesday night draft will determine the rosters for Saturday's game. Seniors are split 50-50 between the two squads and then take turns selecting teammates, coaches, support staff, and administrators. Thursday at Haslam Field, Dearstone and Strange will meet their teams and help conduct the final practice of the spring.
The Dish Network Orange and White Game kicks off at 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. The game will be streamed live online at foxsportstennessee.com and will also be shown on a tape-delayed basis on SportSouth at three times: Sunday, April 17, at 8 p.m. and Monday, April 18, at both 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. (all times Eastern).
"I feel like we have a lot of self-confidence. We still have a lot to work to do, just like any other team. I just want to come out and show Tennessee fans what we have to offer. I want us to show that we're a good team and that we're going to be contenders." -Defensive lineman Malik Jackson on his goals for Saturday's Orange and White game.
DEFENSIVE LEADERS PRAISE BREWER
Second team All-SEC performers Malik Jackson and Prentiss Waggner spoke highly of sophomore defensive back Brent Brewer following Tuesday's practice.
"I think Brent is the most improved player this spring," Waggner said. "Every day he brings it in practice and he's positive in the film room. We always are looking at film. On the practice field, he's become fearless out there. No one wants a piece of Brent out there. He's been a big plus this spring."
"Brent has been a tremendous player ever since he came back," Jackson added. "He's been making big hits. He makes it a lot easier for me to get some extra time to work the pass rush moves. You know he's back there, and it's good to have him back there."
-Linebackers Austin Johnson (sprained knee), Greg King (mild concussion) and John Propst (hamstring) are listed as day-to-day. Their statuses for Saturday's Orange and White game are still unknown.
--Wednesday's practice marks the final time that the Vols will work out in full pads.