Scrimmage a chance to fix problems

Derek Dooley: Friday's practice and Saturday's scrimmage

Each scrimmage has been considered critical in some form or fashion.

There were early evaluations to be made of the personnel in the first one.

The second provided a better feel of the pecking order and a chance to gauge progress.

The third and final scrum of Tennessee's preseason camp this afternoon at Neyland Stadium doesn't appear to be as vital to the depth chart as the previous workouts, but Derek Dooley is at least taking it seriously enough to change up the way he'd normally handle his last significant dry run.

"I think this scrimmage is very important, because what we don't look good at in this scrimmage, we've got about two days to try to get a little better in those areas," the Vols coach said. "(There's practice) Monday and Tuesday, then we'll do our mock game Wednesday, which is more administrative polish, and after that you're on to the first game (preparation).

"Right now, we're really going to try to see where we are, what improvements we've made and where we've got some real squeaky noise so we can put some oil on it."

One thing squeaking for sure on Friday morning were some knee braces on injured Vols, which could alter the workload for a few players as the season-opening date with Montana creeps within two weeks.

UT is banged up at wide receiver with Zach Rogers and DeAnthony Arnett both nursing minor injuries, and it's also been dealing with issues at running back with Rajion Neal and Tom Smith out all week with knee issues.

Defensively, linebacker Greg King has had his knee monitored throughout the week and his reps limited in practice following offseason surgery and Malik Jackson will be held out of action for the third time.

A couple health concerns are only part of the reason Dooley has elected to slightly alter the format for his final scrimmage compared to previous seasons.

With so many young faces trying to get up to speed before kickoff with Montana, the Vols won't be scripting nearly as many scenarios to throw at them.

"We're probably going to get about 40 plays, 20 each of just playing," Dooley said. "Normally, this time everywhere I've been, I've done straight situations for this scrimmage. But I'm changing it a little bit because I think we just need plays, we need to run plays.

"So we're probably going to have about 20 plays of that and then another 25 or 30 of situations, you know, where there are four minutes left in the game and you're down seven. Play to zero and see how it goes."

Those outcomes, like the two chances the Vols had in scrimmages, continue to be important to Dooley. Now he's just got less time to correct any problems that might pop up.

Dr. Jackson: Malik Jackson has declared himself physically ready to go.

The defensive tackle is still waiting more official word elsewhere.

The senior has been easing his way back into action from a sprained knee suffered when two linemen rolled over his leg after he stepped on the foot of tackle Dallas Thomas early in camp, and UT continues to play it safe with its most veteran lineman.

Jackson has been doing some individual work the past couple days, but he'll have missed all three scrimmages during camp after the Vols wrap up this afternoon — and he admits he needs some work.

"I feel 100 percent, but (defensive line) Coach (Lance) Thompson wants me to take it slow," Jackson said. "The last two days I've just been doing pass rush and stuff like that. I did a little bit of drive-reach on my own, but nothing with the team.

"I mean, it sucks to miss it, but it's just a scrimmage. The real game is two weeks from now. I'm just worried about the practices and getting back out there as far as that goes. Scrimmages? I'm not too worried about it. It's good to look and see what the fans and people see, and that's what I've been doing."

Fist Of Fury: Dontavis Sapp instinctively tried to wipe some sweat off his brow with his left hand.

It was no small feat with all the padding and tape around his left fist that looked like a softball had replaced his hand at the end of his arm.

"I've got this club on my hand, couple pads on, it's not much," Sapp said. "I mean, it looks heavier than what it is. It's really not that heavy, and they've got good material in the training room."

The wrap is protecting a broken finger that required surgery on Aug. 9, and it's allowing him to get back in action as he continues his transition to linebacker from the defensive backfield.

With his hand completely covered in tape and padding, Sapp has obvious limitations heading into the scrimmage this afternoon. But he can still wrap up and make a tackle, so he's not making excuses.

"I'll be out there," Sapp said. "I'm ready, this is the last scrimmage of camp and it's the last time we're really going to get to show the coaches who should be playing and who shouldn't be playing, so I'm going to go out and give them my all and show them I should be on the field."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at and

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 9

ThaiVolFan writes:

Fine tuning for a few more days then it's on to game week preparations! Getting excited...everybody is undefeated and I'm encouraged about this season and the direction of the program. Go Vols

Digital5000 writes:

Im so excited I cant stand it. I think I even peed a little in my pants reading this article.


-Enjoy Yoselves

orangeinindy writes:

Anyone know if the scrimmage is open to the public?

TampaVol82 writes:

Looking for a parking pass to the Lake Avenue garauge for the LSU game.Will trade other game parking pass or tickets.

VolGrad writes:

in response to Digital5000:

Im so excited I cant stand it. I think I even peed a little in my pants reading this article.


-Enjoy Yoselves


Go Vols!

nocleats writes:

in response to orangeinindy:

Anyone know if the scrimmage is open to the public?

No its not even open to the media. Closed~

RashaadSalabeb writes:

I just saw where Toney Williams is transferring to Ball State. I wasn't expecting that one. It makes another scholarship available though.

Go Vols!

givehim6 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Next season you pre-season polls will look different, because all they are is sports writers guessing just to have some thing to wright about based on last years play. So when UT starts winning games the 2012 polls will have the Vols in there top 25 (or better), but Vandy will be in there usual place.

Egnaro_Lavan writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You do not know what you are talking about. Derek Dooley is the best coach in the country and you will see how good we will be after we win them all this year.

We now have a coach from Boise State on defense and every one knows they are the best so we will be too.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.