Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers kicked-off spring practice Tuesday afternoon at Haslam field.
Laced with mistakes, execution errors and more Derek Dooley still considered opening day a productive practice.
“Big picture wise it was a good, crisp, clean practice,” said Dooley. “That doesn’t mean there weren’t eight thousand mistakes and the execution was terrible, but overall it was a good tempo, the attitude was good, everyone understood what we were doing. It was a good days work.”
With nearly 70 percent of his football team consisting of both freshmen and sophomores Dooley says the Volunteers will be back to basics.
“It’s not like we have 25 seniors coming through here. We are really starting all over with the basics and we started the first period with teaching how to tackle.”
A year of spring ball under his belt Derek Dooley may have found his comfort zone in his second go-round. Knowing his players and coaches combined with an understood expectation, Dooley can move on to what he does best.
“You are able to coach, motivate and teach, and not worry about a lot of things on the periphery.”
Continuing with his perfectionist attitude, Dooley’s expectations will not change despite the youthfulness of his team in his second campaign. The expectations will be high and the criticism plentiful.
“We set a real high expectation on every thing we do and then getting a lot critical feedback, and doing it over and over … again,” said Dooley. “If we just stay the course over time we will improve each day and feel good about where the team is at the end of spring.”
The Volunteers, as usual, were in helmets for their first practice of the spring and will be for one more day before throwing on the shoulder pads on day three. Due to that fact, Derek Dooley tends to temper his thoughts on the opening few days of practice.
“There are a lot of courageous players when we are in helmets. Then day three we put on the shoulder pads and some of the courage starts changing.
“Then the first scrimmage, it just keeps whittling down, so I don’t get to excited about guys showing up in the backfield on day one.”
Worley Receives Praise
True freshman quarterback Justin Worley didn’t bear the orange and white in his first day as a Tennessee Volunteer, but he did sport the traditional quarterback green.
While Worley might not have wowed the traditional “stargazers” he appears to be what Derek Dooley and his staff were searching for in a quarterback.
“It starts with great character, he is very intelligent, he has a tremendous work ethics, he has great stature – he is a big guy,” said Derek Dooley.
On the other hand, Worley must learn to walk before he can fly.
“I think he is one of those guys that probably needs to have a full understanding of what to do before he can really cut it loose, so he is probably going to struggle a little bit early on and as long as we are patient with him … I think he will turn out to be a good player.”
Spring football is surely a welcome distraction to the main headlines at Tennessee in the past 24 hours. With the departure of Bruce Pearl splattered across the front page Derek Dooley is certain the Vols will forge ahead with great leadership.
“There is not much I can say. I think everybody that is apart of Tennessee hurts right now. It is a real unfortunate sequence of events, but I know we have good leadership and we will get moving in the right direction.”
Dooley will continue to focus on representing Tennessee in the proper manor and wish for good results in the process.
“All my focus is right now is helping football represent this university they way everybody wants it represented. That is my goal and hopefully that will translate into wins on the field.”
Early Enrolls Go Unnoticed
Several new Tennessee Volunteers including Marcus Jackson joined the football squad this semester for spring practice, but don’t ask Derek Dooley how they did, he didn’t notice, but that’s a good thing.
“I didn’t notice them, which was good. I have to go watch the film, he probably missed every block he tried, but it wasn’t so bad that I didn’t notice them.”
“We will go watch the film and see how he did, but he blended right in. And really all those freshman did, the mid-year guys, it’s a tribute to the investment they have put in the last five weeks to try and learn what to do enough to where they can function.”
Many Questions, Few Answers
With the departure of contributors such as Denarius Moore, Gerald Jones, Nick Reveiz and Chris Walker there are many questions looming over the Volunteers football team, but Derek Dooley doesn’t anticipate having the answers any time soon.
“I am not sure we will get all our questions answered before the season,” said Dooley. “We just have to understand that we are going to work as hard as we can everyday to get a little better and hope when the season kicks off that our young guys are where we need them to be.”