Just a scrimmage

Just a scrimmage

Tennessee's fans shouldn't draw any hard and fast conclusions based on Saturday's Orange & White Game. Tennessee's head coach won't.

Following a brisk final full-pads workout on Wednesday, Derek Dooley said the annual spring scrimmage isn't likely to make or break any careers.

"Because of the way we format it, it's really more (about) individual performance," Dooley said. "You don't get the unit together, so I don't put a lot of stock into it.

"I always recall the year we won the national championship (when he was an aide to Nick Saban in 2003 at LSU). Matt Mauck threw six interceptions in the spring game. Had we panicked over that, he never would've been our starting quarterback."

Bottom line: The guys and units who play well this Saturday may not be the same guys and units who play well on Saturdays in the fall.

"These games are just so different because you don't have any continuity anywhere," Dooley said. "It's basically like 'Let's pick teams and go out in the yard and play a game.'"

The coach may not be taking the spring game seriously but the players appear to be. They had their second consecutive strong practice on Wednesday, satisfying the coach with their hustle and enthusiasm.

"I was real pleased with their step the last two days," Dooley said. "They've had good energy. We got a lot of work done these last two days. I'm always concerned going into that last week - what the mood is of the team - but they really came ready to improve, and we did that."

Although the Orange & White Game brings an end to spring practice, it is not the end of the school year. Vol coaches will continue pushing the players to make improvements in those final weeks of classwork.

"We won't completely turn 'em loose until school's out," Dooley said. "There's a lot that can be gained in the few weeks right after spring (ball) before they break (for the summer). Some teams really shut it down but we're going to make an effort to keep working. There's a lot of work to be done in the weight room - our strength levels - and I think our team will put a good investment in."

Some of the players made a relatively small investment following spring practice last year. Now that Dooley is entering his second year at the helm, he sees a better understanding of his expectations in spring practice and hopes to see the same in the post-spring phase.

"It showed this spring," he said, "and I hope it shows up again here after spring in how we work."

BOHANNON'S MOVE: Defensive end Willie Bohannon, profiled on this site two days ago, has been one of the pleasant surprises this spring, even at 6-2 and 250 pounds.

"Willie has good leverage," Dooley said. "Some guys are little but they play with good leverage.... He's a little guy but he really knows how to use his strength.

"Some little guys get overpowered. Some big guys don't understand leverage. He understands leverage, so he plays a lot stronger than what his body type is."

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