The Tennessee Volunteers aren’t going to waiver in their preparation from week to week, but when you go on the road in the SEC you must prepare for the noise factor.
Wednesday Dooley pumped booming crowd noise into the Vols indoor practice facility where the team went to work due to rain in Knoxville during the morning hours.
“(Practice) was good,” Dooley said. “We piped in a lot of noise … I think there were some times in Florida where the environment and all the external things that were going on that really had no bearing on what goes on during the play effected us. We are going to keep working on it.”
Dooley’s squad was certainly rattled during their road loss to the Florida Gators, but one could argue that it was due to the loss of sophomore wide receiver Justin Hunter, but this week the Vols will have to focus on communication between several key offensive pieces.
“There is a lot of communication that goes on up front, quarterback-center, new quarterback, new receivers, in the huddle, so we have to make sure we handle that environment a little better than we did at Florida,” Dooley said.
This week Dooley’s squad will be operating with a new center, Alex Bullard. James Stone was the center for the first five games, but shotgun-snap issues forced the change despite the atmosphere the Vols will face Saturday night.
“I didn’t make (the change) emotionally,” Dooley said. “It is something we have been thinking about.
"There is never really a good time to make a change. I don’t really make them based on who we are playing and where we are playing. I make them based on what our team needs to be successful. And sometime you are going to have to deal with some growing pains.”
One thing that Bullard will likely have to combat is the constant shifting of the Alabama defense, especially in key down-and-distances.
“I think most of their stuff is third down more than anything,” Dooley said. They don’t really move around a lot except on third down. Because they are able to get to the quarterback so quickly they are able to make up for the risk they put on their secondary.”
Another change Tennessee fans are likely see Saturday, although they have gotten a look at the package already, will be former safety Prentiss Waggner making the move back to corner in the base defense with Brian Randolph handling the safety duties.
“I don’t know if it will benefit the team, but we are going to keep trying,” Dooley said. “We need better corner play, in the third down plays especially. Prentiss was there in the beginning. That is kind of what we wanted to do back in fall camp. We weren’t able to do that when we lost a safety, but Brian Randolph is playing better so we will keep tinkering with it.”
Dooley and the Volunteers will continue their preparations at Haslam Field Thursday morning at 9.
Watch offensive coordinator Jim Chaney as he addresses the media Wednesday afternoon.