The game is slowing down, and Bryce Brown is getting faster.
Those facts are obviously directly related for the Tennessee running back, but it might be some improved health that is really making the difference for the true freshman.
Brown is doing all he can to speed through an anticipated learning curve, and he's looked increasingly more comfortable with his role in the Vols' offense since the season opener - and with a sore hip that's bothered him just as long.
"I go back and look at every game and I see mistakes that I made and I feel like I can do better, and that's what it's about - getting better each week, and that's what I'm looking forward to," Brown said. "(The hip) is nagging. It's a nagging injury, but it doesn't bother me too much. It's something that I've dealt with for a while and I'll continue to just try to get it back right and just hope for the best.
"I think it depends on me and how (much) I take care of it, get in there and get treatment and make sure I'm taking care of my body. That's the most important thing is getting my legs back."
They looked fresh last week against Ohio, and his legs were plenty strong enough to carry him 26 yards for a game-breaking touchdown catch on a swing screen that finally helped UT put away the Bobcats.
Brown also added 56 yards on 13 carries to complement another big game from starter Montario Hardesty as the backfield combo really started to hit its stride together. Neither back is completely healthy yet, but the Vols might become more dangerous as they balance the workload between them.
Brown can ease some of the pounding Hardesty takes as the feature back, and Hardesty can help Brown through the ups and downs as the future back.
"Learning curves, they've all had them, every one that I've coached, and they got them at different times," running backs coach Eddie Gran said. "When I coached Ronnie (Brown) and Carnell (Williams) and Rudi Johnson and Brandon Jacobs and all those guys, Deuce McAllister, they all had their times when they were ready to go, and the key to the whole thing is being selfless. It's hard to do sometimes when you come out of high school and you're the guy and the media cranks somebody up and says these guys are great, the hardest part as a coach is to bring them back down.
"This is a team sport and there's going to be opportunities and you're going to get your shot."
Brown might be ready for even more of them now. In more ways than one, he's up to speed.
High Praise: Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin lost a player he thought was already an All-American at linebacker. And even after Nick Reveiz has season ending knee surgery, Kiffin believes he still could be again.
"I did not know Nick Reveiz would be that good," Kiffin said. "I'm not just saying that because we miss him a lot. He's just a really good football player.
"This guy is a special player. I'm just telling you, this kid is going to be an All-American if we can get that knee ready. I mean, I'm not big on throwing out predictions, but he's played like an All-American linebacker, I'm just telling you. Put on the tape, tell me what he doesn't do."
Replacing Reveiz: Considering all the Reveiz did for the Vols, Kiffin didn't try to downplay the loss and the big task Savion Frazier has filling in at middle linebacker, particularly since the junior is learning so many extra responsibilities.
"(Frazier) is doing a good job," Kiffin said. "It's definitely a different deal. First off, it's a double move since he's going from the Will position to Mike and now he becomes the caller of the signals and stuff, so it's like it's just the backup Mike linebacker.
"He's had a nice week of practice, but we threw a lot at him and you couldn't pick a tougher game because of (Auburn offensive coordinator Gus) Malzahn's offense. You couldn't possibly. Nick needed to wait about the 10th or 11th game of the year to get hurt."
More Respect: First Lane Kiffin took up Auburn's case as a Top 25 caliber team. Then Monte Kiffin beat the drum for Malzahn as one of the nation's best coaches regardless of level as the Vols showed a healthy appreciation for the Tigers.
"(Malzahn) is the real deal," Monte Kiffin said. "Look what he's done there in four games. My gosh, it's unbelievable.
"You can say, 'Well, they didn't play anybody.' That's not true, last time I checked Mississippi State's defense played pretty dang good against LSU, a pretty darned good team, and West Virginia is a darn good football team. It isn't like he's just beating up the people he's supposed to beat up."
Health Nuts: The Vols didn't report any new injuries, and they still haven't made a decision regarding offensive guard Vladimir Richard or defensive end Chris Walker.
Neither practiced Thursday, and Lane Kiffin listed Richard as doubtful and said both players would be evaluated again today.