Tennessee Vols' Michael Palardy ready for reliability

Tennessee Vols' Michael Palardy ready for reliability

August 28th, 2013 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee's Michael Palardy (1) punts the ball against Kentucky in Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee's Michael Palardy (1) punts the ball against...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- The dilemma is the same for Michael Palardy.

The trick again for Tennessee's kicker is translating practice productivity into game-time reliability.

He's entering his senior season with the Volunteers on the heels of a solid preseason, but there's been a big difference in this August from the previous three.

At the direction of first-year coach Butch Jones, Palardy and the Vols' other specialists have kicked inside Neyland Stadium a few times throughout the preseason and were there again Tuesday afternoon while the rest of the team prepared for Saturday evening's opener against Austin Peay at Haslam Field across campus.

"That's where we're going to be spending most of our time kicking," Palardy explained. "We're not going to be spending our time kicking out there. We're going to spend our time kicking in [the stadium], just to get acclimated with the surroundings.

"He's done a good job of letting us do that."

Though the kickers wanted to kick in Neyland in the past, former coach Derek Dooley said no, and the specialists typically would kick on the practice field inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex. Even though the stands are empty and the place is quiet, Jones wants his kickers visualizing their craft where they'll be doing it.

Palardy believes the change in scenery will pay off with different results. For his career, the nation's top-rated kicker out of high school in 2010, according to Scout.com, is 23-of-33 on field-goal tries, though he's made just three of 10 from 40 or more yards.

During practice in the spring and this month, Palardy has struggled some with longer kicks from the right hash, but he's been solid punting and kicking off and has a very tight grip on all three jobs.

"Just mentally [it's] just putting yourself in that game situation," he said. "Coach Jones loves doing game-winning field goals in practice. Even though you don't have the fans, you don't have the stadium and the crowd, at the end of the day it's the same kick.

"Mentally you just have to tell yourself you've got to expect this throughout a game. You've got to expect crowd noise, you've got to expect distractions, and that's why Coach Jones loves doing that kind of stuff. He loves tapping you, saying your name, trying to get you to [lose] focus on the task at hand. It's just kind of a mental thing, and you've got to be able to put yourself in that situation."

Peterman speaks

Since learning he finished second in the race to become the Vols' starting quarterback, Nathan Peterman has shown up to the complex at 7 a.m. each of the last two days.

The redshirt freshman spoke to reporters Tuesday after practice and was open about his runner-up place.

"It's definitely a disappointment," he said. "There's high expectations. I have high expectations for myself, and it's still a dream and a goal of mine -- I feel a very reachable goal. It was definitely a disappointment, but at the same time I couldn't stay down too long. I had to get back up and get ready for the next day of practice."

After what he called a "positive conversation" with Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian on Sunday night, Peterman has operated as if it was "business as usual," according to Jones.

"I come in here," Peterman said, "and try to watch film as much as I can and get ready like I am the starter."

Maggitt update

Linebacker Curt Maggitt worked out on the side of Tuesday's practice. Though the junior hasn't been ruled out of Saturday's opener, it's appearing more and more unlikely he'll play. The Vols certainly will play it safe with one of their most valuable defenders.

"We're missing Curt Maggitt right now," Jones said. "You can see it. He's our true leader. He's the one person that brings the full package: competitive spirit, leadership and a great skill set at linebacker.

"We're missing him right now. Do we anticipate getting him back? Yes, but I don't know when. It could be Saturday night; it could be a week; it could be two weeks -- we're going to wait and see where he's at."

Extra points

Jones said the team still needs more leadership. ... He liked how Justin Worley has responded since he was named the starting quarterback, though Jones wants him to be "more demanding" of his receivers and offensive line. ... Freshman receiver Ryan Jenkins didn't practice.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.