On Saturday at Neyland Stadium opportunity knocks for Team 117. The 2013 DISH Orange & White Game – set for a 2 p.m. start – offers a final chance for the Vols to get on the gridiron this spring and prove something.
With that in mind, Thursday morning’s practice session – No. 14 this spring – served as the final tune-up.
“This was the cramming before the final,” said defensive line coach Steve Stripling. “What we actually tried to do today is get everything on video, building our video library, so when the incoming freshmen get here you now have a resource that the older players can take them through.”
While the 15 allotted practices are obviously important, the first-year coaching staff under head coach Butch Jones knows it’s going to take much more to accomplish its goals for Team 117.
“We always want more work,” said offensive line coach Don Mahoney. “They will go through their footwork in the summer. They will go through their lifting and running and all those things. But there is nothing like putting the pads on and actually hitting. I would like to go three more weeks and have two-a-days every week, but the reality is physically we can’t do that. The foundation has been set in terms of what our expectations are.”
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie echoed the same sentiments on Thursday.
“I told the guys, I said everyone in the country gets 15 practices. Everybody. Every school we play against,” said Gillespie. “It’s what you do with those 15 practices. The second part of it is what you do with the other 330-some odd days. That’s what is going to make us a good football team.
“It’s not the 15 practices where I’m here yelling, Coach Jones is screaming, and (Mike) Bajakian is screaming. It’s the extra work that they carry throughout the offseason and through the summer. Those are the things that will make us a good team, not 15 practices.”