Video: Vols coach Derek Dooley focused on future at UT

Video: Vols coach Derek Dooley focused on future at UT

March 26th, 2012 by Patrick Brown in Sportscollege

UT football coach Derek Dooley talks to the media at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

STATUS UPDATES


• Junior defensive lineman Corey Miller and junior offensive lineman JerQuari Schofield will not participate in spring practice due to academics. Both players are still in the program, though neither have been working with the team this offseason.

• After playing receiver last season, Rajion Neal is back exclusively at running back, where he'll compete with Marlin Lane.

• Four players will now work at linebacker. Jacques Smith and Willie Bohannon will get a shot at the JACK linebacker position, Channing Fugate moves over from fullback and Brent Brewer slides down from strong safety.

• Linebacker Herman Lathers is full go for spring practice more than nine months after brutally fracturing his ankle. "He's worked really hard and his body's ready," Dooley said, "but until you get out there and take on that first [hit], you never know."

• Freshman early enrollee Cody Blanc will begin his career at receiver.

• Brewer and receiver Justin Hunter are at different points in their respective rehabs from ACL surgery, but both will be limited this spring. Dooley said Hunter is "right on track" in his recovery, and the Vols hope he can avoid a setback this spring.

• Linebacker Curt Maggitt, defensive tackle Daniel Hood and defensive back Prentiss Waggner will all be limited to some degree after offseason shoulder surgery.

• Waggner will start the spring at cornerback, his preferred and more natural position. Brian Randolph and Rod Wilks are listed as the first-team safeties, backed up by Byron Moore and Geraldo Orta.

• Guard Zach Fulton will begin spring with limitations after suffering a stress fracture during the offseason. The junior has been in a boot and on crutches the past couple of weeks.

• Lane (4 to 15), defensive lineman Greg Clark (94 to 93), punter Matt Darr (5 to 43), tight end Brendan Downs (84 to 85), cornerback Izauea Lanier (18 to 9) and receiver Naz Oliver (2 to 13) are wearing new numbers.

KNOXVILLE -- The goals and the values haven't changed.

The adjustment for Derek Dooley instead has come in how he conveys them.

And as Tennessee's coach embarks on his third spring practice with the Volunteers, Dooley can begin to truly put the tweaked approach to work.

"I think that when you kind of define what your program stands for, it doesn't mean anything if you're not reinforcing it every day," he said at Sunday afternoon's news conference. "I look back [at last season], and I've said this a number of times, that it's not really forced us to changed what we believe. It's just how you implement it and how you go about doing it in every drill, and that's something that we needed to do a better job of.

"That's why you need to kind of renew yourself every year and see what you didn't do well. That's probably the No. 1 thing we've got to do a better job as coaches."

With three full classes of his own recruits on the roster and seven new assistant coaches he handpicked this offseason, Dooley has reason to look to the future rather than the past, where he'd see the ugly ending to the Vols' 2011 season and turbulent offseason that came with it.

Yet from his first public appearance of the offseason in January to Sunday's introduction to spring practice, the coach has remained upbeat about his football team. Dooley consistently has pointed to the growing depth and experience on his roster and the competition that's with it. He's also boasted about the new faces on his staff.

But much of the work came in December. While the Vols' season-ending loss to Kentucky kept them out of a bowl game, it also gave Dooley some time to set the framework for an offseason that would lead into his all-important third season in charge of the program.

"All of that time in December where you'd have spent some energy on bowl prep," Dooley said, "[we] put a lot of time into sort of redefining our offseason and taking a hard look at some of the things we need to do differently going into next season."

There's plenty of freshness as UT heads into the next four weeks. Offensively the Vols will spend plenty of time addressing a rushing attack that was 116th nationally last season with plenty of competition on the offensive line. Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and his assistants will spend the practice time toying with the personnel in a new scheme.

While the core intangibles of discipline, effort, toughness and teamwork are the same, seemingly everything is new.

"We changed a lot in how we implemented our offseason program the last eight weeks," Dooley said. "We're probably going to do some things a little differently on all three phases, but probably the biggest thing is just how we coach it and implement it and how we demand that it gets done right. That's more important than anything new thing we can do."

EXTRA POINTS

• Dooley declined to go into Da'Rick Rogers' reported absence from a portion of the offseason program. The receiver from Calhoun was absent for more than a week of morning workouts after an incident of insubordination to the strength and conditioning staff, according to reports and two sources inside the football program.

"I'm not going to go into all the individuals," Dooley said. "We had a lot of guys that missed a workout or two for different reasons, whether it's academics, whether it's discipline, whether it's injury. We had a ton of that. It's managing 100 guys, and every day's a challenge. I just don't want to go into and revisit our last eight weeks."

• UT's spring guide includes what looks like a depth chart, but Dooley made a point not to read too much into who is starting or even where they're playing. "It's not going to be a daily depth chart," he said. "We're going to be moving guys around a lot trying to find the right mix in all the areas, whether it's the offensive line [and] on defense. It's going to be a lot of experimenting."

n Dooley officially confirmed that quarterback-turned-receivers coach Darin Hinshaw will take over duties as the Vols' recruiting coordinator. Terry Joseph left the title vacant when he joined Nebraska's staff last month.