Derek Dooley on personnel issues
Derek Dooley on the Vols' strength
Derek Dooley isn’t looking for a do-over.
But given the circumstances, the Tennessee coach can’t help but feel like this is actually his first season really in control of his program.
The slate hasn’t necessarily been wiped clean from the unusual situation he inherited before his first spring practice at this time a year ago, but heading into his second go-round with the Vols starting Tuesday, Dooley certainly appears more comfortable with the task ahead of him.
“I kind of feel like this is Year One and last year was Year Zero,” Dooley said in his pre-spring practice press conference on Monday. “It was such a unique situation that we walked into last season, it didn’t feel like your first year. I feel like right now, this is Year One.
“We obviously need improvement everywhere. I think every spring you want to come in and improve fundamentally at every position, you want to improve in the schematic knowledge that the players have, you want to improve in the intangible values that we kind of build our program on and you certainly want to start building a team dynamic, which this year will be very different than last year from that standpoint.”
That process begins with an afternoon workout on Tuesday, and officially his second full year in control will open with a few notable changes to the roster.
Star safety Janzen Jackson will miss the entire spring as he continues to deal with personal issues that led to his withdrawal from school last month.
“He seems to be managing his life well right now, on pace to come back (in the fall),” Dooley said. “But that’s day-to-day, month-to-month.”
Fellow starting safety Brent Brewer was reinstated after a five-week suspension following his arrest last month.
Offensive lineman Daniel Hood will be moving to the defensive side of the ball to fill a void at tackle and provide some size on the interior.
The Knoxville Catholic product checks in at 6-4, 292 pounds and will aid in a process Dooley called a “constant search to get bigger guys on the defensive line.”
For the first two practices, the UT defensive line will be missing on of its biggest guys up front as Montori Hughes serves a two-practice suspension for violation of team rules.
On the injury front, linebacker Herman Lathers and lineman Marques Pair will be limited throughout spring practice as they recover from offseason surgeries. Nash Nance will also be rehabbing following foot surgery for at least a few practices early in the spring.
Reserve quarterback Tyler Page will move to safety as the Vols continue to look for answers at another of their weakest areas in terms of depth.
Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.