Preparations for the Buffalo Bulls are being put on hold as the Volunteers look inward to correct mistakes that became even more visible in film study of Saturday's 33-23 loss to Florida in Gainesville.
A lackluster effort started to get the better of coach Derek Dooley as Tuesday morning's practice at Haslam Field neared its end. The second-year head man let loose on his team and needs them to simply take football and their scholarships more seriously.
"It's good to see some energy," wide receiver Zach Rogers said. "We came out here with the wrong mindset. We were kind of dragging around all practice; it wasn't a good practice, myself included. As we grow as a team, as we grow and mature, I think we'll get better at that and learn the importance of this open week to get better."
This century, Tennessee is 6-4 coming off of bye weeks, including a 3-1 mark against schools not named Alabama.
"I'm glad we've got the open week," offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James said. "Usually people think the open week is a time to relax. For myself, I know I've got to get better technique. Everybody has something they need to work on to get better."
Between the recent injuries and sub-standard play by some, there are likely to be some changes to the starting lineup and/or two-deep rotation before Tennessee and the Bulls kick off on Oct. 1 at 12:30 (TV: CSS).
"Personally, I wish we had a game this week, and I'm sure most of the other guys would agree with me on that," cornerback Marsalis Teague said. "We're going to embrace this week off and not really think of it as a week off. We've still got to put in the work and prepare like we've got a game. That's the only way we're going to get better."
The Vols get back to work at practice at Haslam Field on Tuesday morning at 9.
For more thoughts on the Big Orange, click play on the video below to hear defensive end Jacques Smith speak.