For a dozen spring practices, Tennessee's defensive coaches steadfastly held their position. On Tuesday, they flip-flopped.
After being moved to strongside linebacker before spring drills began, senior Rico McCoy returned to the position he played last season, weakside linebacker.
"We didn't know for sure where he would fit," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said.
Now Kiffin knows, adding that McCoy will most likely stay at weakside into the 2009 season. McCoy's move prompted another shift, LaMarcus Thompson to strongside linebacker.
"I thought he might be pretty good off the edge," Kiffin said. "We'll blitz him some."
The "experiment", as Kiffin called it, could still pay dividends. McCoy is UT's only linebacker who has started more than one game during his career.
Now, McCoy has experience at both outside linebacker positions in UT's new defensive system. That will give the Vols some flexibility, especially if faced with an injury.
"Rico's probably played the best of all the linebackers," UT coach Lane Kiffin said. "We moved him from 'sam' to 'will'. That's usually in this system where the best playmaker goes."
Longtime NFL standout Derrick Brooks played weakside linebacker for Monte Kiffin while he was the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"That's where you put your best player in this system because he's covered up by a three-technique (defensive tackle) in front of him," Lane Kiffin said.
Junior Nick Reveiz is the only other linebacker to have started a game in his career. Yet Reveiz and Thompson both played in every game last season.
Reveiz, Thompson and McCoy are expected to start Saturday's Orange and White Game.
More Linebacker Lingo: Chris Donald said he's pleased with his improvement in UT's new defense.
"This year is going really good," the linebacker said. "I like the new defense."
Donald said he is asked to blitz more at strongside linebacker than he was under UT's former coaching staff.
"It takes me back to high school," Donald said.
Donald is splitting second-team snaps with fellow sophomore Daryl Vereen.
Donald played in two games last season after being a highly touted recruit in 2007.
"I've been hungry for awhile," the former Huntingdon High School standout said. "I've been busting my tail in class and in the weight room. I'm grinding everyday."
Going Hard on Goal Line: The Vols' final portion of practice was a full-contact, goal line drill held while rap music blasted through speakers high above Haslam Field.
Cornerback Dennis Rogan turned in the most electric highlight during the drill when he hammered Austin Rogers just as the receiver was about to reel in a touchdown pass from B.J. Coleman. The pass fell incomplete.
UT completed another short-yardage pass when Nick Stephens found Gerald Jones for a touchdown.
Tailback Montario Hardesty was stopped short of the goal line on a questionable call on the drill's first play. The senior found the end zone shortly thereafter.
Pass Protection Better: Lane Kiffin said UT's pass protection improved after a rough day protecting the quarterbacks in Friday's scrimmage.
"I thought we pass protected a little bit better today," he said. "We didn't have a very good blitz period, but as far as one-on-one matchups, I thought we did better. They responded a little bit to (Friday's scrimmage). It was good to see."
Quiet Storm: Guard Vladimir Richard said offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Chaney has no trouble getting loud when he's correcting a player. But that's not always the route Chaney chooses.
"He can get loud sometimes, but he can chew you out in such a calm way," Richard said. "And that's scary. When someone's loud and yelling at you, you're used to that. But when somebody can be so calm and talk to you in such a polite manner but really just chew you out, that's a scary sight."
Highs and Lows: UT's second-team offensive line struggled mightily in pass protection. Stephens was often the recipient of the poor pass blocking, often never having a chance to look downfield before the play was blown dead for a sack.
Stephens sometimes struggled even before it got to that point. The junior had two fumbled exchanges with center Cody Sullins.
Injury Report: Tight end Jeff Cottam (concussion) did not practice.
Drew Edwards contributed to this report.