KNOXVILLE - University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley wasn't exactly thrilled with the how the Volunteers practiced on Tuesday morning and attributed the struggles to a poor Monday night.
"We need to do a better job on Monday night as individuals of preparing our mind for what lies ahead Tuesday," he said. "The pace, the tempo, the game plan, everything's coming at them fast. If you're not prepared mentally, it's going to take you a while to get going. Not surprising, but we got to learn from it and get better."
The Vols host Cincinnati on Saturday, and Dooley already has given plenty of praise to the Bearcats' high-octane offense, which led the Big East Conference in scoring last season in coach Butch Jones' first year, returned its key playmakers and scored 72 points on overmatched Austin Peay in its opener.
UT's biggest concern is containing Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros, who can give defenses fits with his arm and his legs. The Vols will try to simulate that look all week.
"We have a way we prepare for it," Dooley said. "It is hard because you got to put a real good athlete running the ball at quarterback and you've got to treat it like he's a running back. That's what you have to do on how you fit, how you hit him, but then he's also got to be able to throw the ball downfield. It's difficult to simulate it. It's almost impossible. The biggest thing is trying not to have pre-snap mental errors and trying to fit the runs where they need to be fitted in the perimeter."
ODDS AND ENDS
Dooley's post-practice with the media was his first public appearance since UT hired Dave Hart as its new athletic director, and though the coach has had prior conversations with his new boss, the two plan to meet this afternoon. Hart is no stranger to big-time football programs, as he's held high-level positions at Florida State and Alabama.
"Certainly every coach wants their boss to have a real good understanding of their sport because it's challenging if they don't," Dooley said. "I think it's fair to say I'm not going to have to educate him on football. He knows it, so we can get right to the heart of it, and that'll be good."
Senior Malik Jackson, the Vols' top defensive tackle, missed practice on Tuesday. Dooley said Jackson was throwing up Tuesday morning, but the coach didn't stop there.
"His tummy was hurting and his mommy wasn't here to give him a hug," Dooley sternly quipped. "I've never seen a great defensive lineman whose tummy hurts and he didn't practice."
IN WEDNESDAY'S TIMES FREE PRESS
I'll look at senior linebacker Daryl Vereen, who was seemingly the forgotten guy with all the attention going to freshmen Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson. Vereen has carved out a role as UT's nickel-package linebacker and led the team in tackles against Montana.
I'll also have more of Dooley's comments on Hart, along with tidbits on defensive tackle Corey Miller, Tyler Bray's two non-interceptions and more.