Ask receiver Denarius Moore about Tennessee's revamped secondary and he's not afraid to pay it a compliment.
The senior sees young players like Darren Myles and Eric Gordon, as well as past contributors like Anthony Anderson, Janzen Jackson and Stephaun Raines working hard to replace departed standouts Eric Berry and Dennis Rogan, who are off to the NFL draft.
"We see a lot of folks are gone," Moore said. "Then we also see a lot of younger guys trying to step up. It should be pretty straight back there in the secondary."
But don't mistake Moore's compliment for admitting defeat.
"We always get the better of them but they still give us a little challenge," Moore joked.
If that's true, some rare consistency is the reason, especially for a program that has had three head coaches in little more than two years.
Moore said UT's quarterbacks and receivers have developed better chemistry early in spring practice than they had in past years. That's because the Vols are running a passing attack similar to the one they ran last year under offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who was retained by coach Derek Dooley.
The only issue for UT's offensive players is some new terminology.
"It's learning the new names to the same plays that we had last year. That's basically what's getting to us," Moore said.
I'm Good: Austin Johnson said he never had any gripes about being moved from fullback to linebacker in January.
"My first response was I'll do what the team needs, and that's what I'll do," the junior said. "To be honest, I wasn't upset at all. God has a plan for me and that's his plan. I was willing to move and I'm loving the move right now."
Johnson is getting more practice snaps than most newcomers would expect because of injuries to other UT linebackers. He's regularly one of the Vols' two first-team middle linebackers, along with Nigel Mitchell-Thornton.
Yet it's actually one of those injured Vols, Nick Reveiz, who is overcoming a knee injury suffered last fall, that is serving as Johnson's mentor.
"I just try to get on Nick all the time to come watch film with me and help me out because with him there, he really pushes me and helps me learn it quickly," Johnson said. "That's my main focus."
Practice Report: As usual, Dooley was tight-lipped when asked to single out players that are making an early impression in spring camp.
"Nobody is performing to their capacity right now and it's because they don't know everything to do," Dooley said. "It's not natural. It's not instinct. Until we get to that point, we don't know how good they are."
Dooley said there haven't been a lot of mental mistakes by the Vols, but there's been hesitancy as they learn a new system.
Green Guys: Dooley said UT's quarterback will continue to wear green, non-contact jerseys even as the Vols amp up contact deeper into spring practice. Dooley said the key for UT's quarterbacks is to simulate contact properly.
"As long as the quarterbacks are playing like they are live, then they'll be able to go ahead and hold the muster when they do get hit," Dooley said, "but I'd rather not get the quarterbacks hurt."
No News: Dooley said there is no news on sophomore tailback Bryce Brown, who told Dooley before spring camp opened that he wouldn't be participating in practice. There has been widespread speculation that Brown will transfer.
Kansas State, where his brother plays, and Southern California, where former UT coach Lane Kiffin is the head coach, are possible destinations.
Injury Report: Defensive end Chris Walker (back) was in an orange jersey and didn't look limited for the open portion of Tuesday's practice.
Defensive end Ben Martin was still wearing a red, non-contact jersey. Tight end Daniel Adderley (thumb) also was held out for much of practice, but was in full pads and ran on the sidelines.
Visitors: Two UT signees were in attendance: quarterback Nash Nance and receiver Da'Rick Rogers. UT offensive line prospect Alan Posey from Clarke Central High School in Athens, Ga., also was at practice.