March 13, 2008

Vols show improvement in spring drills

Thursday spring photo gallery

The chatter as Tennessee closed its first week of football practice and departed for spring break was about improvements.

Focusing mainly on fundamentals and the installation of the offense, the Vols have worked extensively through the opening two days of the acclimation period to hone fundamentals. They are scheduled to be back to Knoxville by 9 p.m. on March 23, with a workout the next day and return to the practice field on Tuesday.

"The first day was a lot of mistakes and people were messing up," said offensive lineman Anthony Parker. "From Day 1 to Day 2, that's probably the biggest improvement I've ever seen playing football. I could see the improvement and people understanding what's going on more, catching the hang of it. It's starting to gel nice from Day 1 to Day 2."

New offensive coordinator Dave Clawson saw signs of encouragement in Thursday's work on Haslam Field.

"It's a work in progress, and I think the most important thing is that you want every day to get a little bit better," Clawson said. "I thought the first day was sloppy, and I thought today things were a little bit cleaner. We've just got to make sure that every practice, we build on what we've done the day before and we're constantly getting better."

Demetrice Morley comfortable
After a one-year hiatus from football, junior safety Demetrice Morley still seems to be relishing his return to the field.

"It feels good to be back out here with the coaches and team and out here just working again," Morley said. "Now I'm back and I'm just happy.
"I feel like nothing has changed, like I've been here all this while. I'm just going to keep working hard to get better as a team, and the coaches are going to be coaching hard to make us better."

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said he's never questioned Morley's ability to bring it on the field.

"Demetrice has never had a problem on the field," Fulmer said. "Demetrice's issues come with his own personal discipline and academics and those kinds of things. I think he's doing fine. From all I've gathered, the information daily or weekly that we get, he's working at it. But he's got to be consistent.
"Demetrice has gotten himself in a position, as I told him, that he can't be average. He's got to excel, and he's capable of doing that."
Chris Walker update
Walker didn't practice again on Thursday, but he did ride the bike on the side and is optimistic that he will be back on the practice field when contact work counts.

Brent Vinson sighting
Vinson cannot take any contact on his shoulder, but he was dressed and on the practice field. Vinson did participate in some drill work on Thursday.

Hubbs observations
You get the feeling you are watching a Hickory Husker practice when you watch the first 30 minutes of a spring football workout. For the second practice we still have not seen a quarterback throw a ball as the focus remains on fundamentals. Thursdays focus for the quarterbacks was about footwork in the run game with handoffs.

For the wide receivers, it was about footwork as well with proper weight being on each foot to get off the line of scrimmage.

Without pads there is no contact which means you saw a lot of work with the shoots for offensive linemen and defensive linemen as they focus on pad leverage.

On the defensive side of the ball, it was tackling work without gear as they focused on their fundamentals in form tackling.

On special teams, Chad Cunningham continues to hear it from the coaches as this is a huge spring for him. In watching punt coverage today, Caldwell is overseeing it with Michael, Scott, and Drayton helping in that part of special teams.

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