The origin of the story is murky and its versions are widespread, but Derek Dooley wasn't concerned with the minutiae when he relayed an analogy to his team Wednesday while dissecting film of Tuesday's scrimmage.
The Tennessee coach wanted to drill home a point, and he was going to use William Shakespeare to do so.
Dooley cited Shakespeare's "Richard III," one of the great playwright's earliest tragedies, as his source of inspiration. The play centers on how Richard III, the brother of King Edward IV, quickly rises to power but ultimately dies when he is unhorsed in a battle. Richard acknowledges that he has lost everything because of a chain reaction that spawned from his horse's shoe missing a nail.
This, in Dooley's mind, could all be related to how a number of minor errors led to big problems in the Vols' first scrimmage of the preseason.
"One little horseshoe nail can bring down a whole kingdom," Dooley said after Thursday's practice. "That's what it did back in the 1400s. Just like stepping with your right foot six inches could cause a guy to get on the edge, which causes the quarterback to get a little flustered, the exchange goes bad, fumble, turnover, touchdown.
"Every little detail of your technique and assignment can impact the game. We've got a long way to go."
Upon a thorough examination of Tuesday's film, Dooley said his top concern was the operation of the offense under sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and the running game struggled to do much of anything, but Dooley was most perturbed by multiple delay of game penalties and the stalled pace.
"We put a lot on him on alerts and kills and checks," Dooley said. "We're going to do some things. We've got to tighten it down as a coach and do a better job of coaching so Tyler can get in there and groove it a little bit."
Outside of his praise for freshman linebackers A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt and other individual performances, Dooley was mostly critical in the moments after Tuesday's scrimmage because "I call it like I see it."
He stressed Thursday that he didn't want his constructive criticism to confuse fans into thinking the team wasn't on a path to improvement.
"We're working hard and doing good and we don't have a lot of emotion and drama that's impeding our progress," he said. "But that doesn't mean we're a good team."
The message from Dooley's monologue Wednesday was received loud and clear, he said, though some of the finer points from "Richard III" may have been lost in translation.
"They were very engaged," he said. "I asked if they had read Shakespeare, and they tried to recite some of the Old English language, which none of them understood. I told them I didn't understand their language of today.
"Them trying to read Old English and then me trying to understand what they're saying is about the same."
Practice Report: The Vols went through their first of two, two-a-day practices Thursday, donning full pads for the morning session and wearing just shoulder pads, helmets and shorts for the evening.
"Long day's work," defensive tackle Corey Miller called it after the morning practice.
Players and coaches were not made available to the media after the night session. The Vols return to Haslam Field for a 2:30 p.m. practice today.
Moving Day: Knoxville Catholic product Kyler Kerbyson was at a new position Thursday.
Kerbyson, who had been working at guard, was moved out to tackle, Dooley said. With a glut of players vying for a spot at left guard, the Vols aren't as strong depth-wise at the tackle positions behind starters Dallas Thomas and Ju'Wuan James.
Prized freshman Antonio Richardson is "still on the shelf" and has yet to face contact in camp because of offseason shoulder surgery.
That's Special: Dooley said only one of kicker Mike Palardy's two missed field goals Tuesday was a total failure from start to finish, while the other was a "good kick" that missed because Palardy played the wind incorrectly.
Dooley referenced "Richard III" for a second time when discussing the kick that went wrong from the very beginning.
"The snapper was a little bit off, the hold was about three inches ahead of his spot and the kick was not quite what he needed to be," Dooley said. "We missed the kick."