Derek Dooley's Tennessee Volunteers may have still been a little sleepy from the rain because the focus wasn't quite there.
"The inexperience, like everything we do, shows, so we have to do a better job on Monday night … as individuals, preparing our mind for what lies ahead Tuesday," Dooley said. "The pace, the tempo, the game plan, everything is coming at them fast and if you are not prepared mentally it is going to take you a while to get going."
While things didn't seem all that different on campus, one thing is brand new. Dooley has a new boss, Tennessee vice chancellor and athletics director Dave Hart.
"I have had a lot of conversations with him, but haven't sat down with him," Dooley said. "I am going to do that this afternoon. I am really excited about kind of starting a new direction from a leadership standpoint in our athletics department.
"The thing I obviously love about Dave is he has been around big-time college football at Florida State and Alabama. He knows what a football program needs, the support we need and that is going to be very appreciative when he brings it to us. And (Alabama coach) Nick (Saban) had nothing but good things to say about him and that's good enough for me."
Having been at Alabama, Hart knows what pigskin is all about in the south; something Dooley says will be beneficial from the get-go.
"Certainly every coach wants their boss to have a real good understanding of their sport because it is challenging if they don't," Dooley said. "I am not going to have to educate him on football. He knows it, so we can get right to the heart of it."
Hart will officially take the reigns Sept. 21 and was not seen at Tennessee's practice Tuesday morning, but was likely meeting with the various coaches on campus as planned Monday night during his introductory press conference.
Steady as she goes
Senior linebacker Daryl Vereen finished his 2010 campaign on a high note, but was still not penciled in as a starter in 2011. That didn't stop him from continuing to push for playing time.
"He is a senior and he didn't get affected," Dooley said. "Its not the first time he has been replaced or tried to get replaced and the more mature you are as a professional the better you handle it."
Vereen was featured in the nickel package during Saturday's game against Montana and led the Vols in tackles with six in addition to being named an SEC defensive player of the week.
"I was happy with how I played, but I could always play a lot better," Vereen said. "I had some simple mistakes that y'all wouldn't see. It wasn't a perfect game. I can always play better."
As freshmen backers A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt received all the preseason hype, Vereen never felt forgotten, but maybe in the shadows a little bit.
"They told me I would still be a key factor to the defense just not in the base group as much," he said. "As long I can contribute to this team winning that's all I am worried about."
Sophomore wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers say the Vol offense is simple, but it works.
"I feel like we have a big O-line, traditional Power-I offense, strong backs," Rogers said. "I feel like we can pound the ball and stretch the field deep. That is our identity. We are going to run downhill and we are going to throw the ball deep."
Rogers said their passing game's chemistry is dead on and only continues to get better both on and off the field. Following Tuesday morning's practice Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, Matt Milton and others would be heading to class followed by lunch together.
The Vols return to the practice field to continue preparations for Cincinnati on Wednesday at 9 a.m.