Brian Randolph on the play of the secondary
It was first attached to a dolly and then placed on a four-wheeled cart.
A few minutes later, it watched Tennessee's offensive linemen run through early-practice drills. With a little help from two UT assistants, it was a few paces away from the line of scrimmage while the Vols ran through a five-wide offensive set.
It was a ceramic orange dog, and it served a purpose at Tuesday's practice.
"It's just a reminder, you know, when you get something in your mind that is negative or you get down on yourself," coach Derek Dooley said. "It's just a reminder. Snap out of it, we've got it made over here."
The significance of the dog went back to a metaphor Dooley provided the Vols (4-6, 0-6 SEC) with on Sunday, one day after their worst loss of the season, a 49-7 rout at Arkansas. Along with throwing out the Arkansas film, Dooley told the players to feed the "orange dog," which symbolizes positive thinking, and not the "red dog," which symbolizes negative thinking.
"We get so emotionally invested in the results in our country that it can really sabotage your thinking," Dooley said Monday. "It can sabotage your performance, and it has our team. I don't think there's any question, those teams that you say, 'We just didn't get the breaks and we were close.'
"You're missing that juice, that confidence and every day you wake up, you've got one side that wants to be negative and wants to feel sorry for yourself and wants to make excuses and blame others. Then you've got another side who thinks good thoughts and has a lot of encouragement, is a little more solution-oriented and isn't so emotionally drawn to the results. That's the side we need to feed ourselves with, and that's hard to do, it's hard for all of us."
On Tuesday, it was more than just a symbol. It was a real-life, seemingly very heavy, prop.
"When I first saw it, I laughed about it. But at the same time, I thought, 'This is something serious. We've got to learn how to be more positive,' " defensive end Marlon Walls said. "Especially right now, coming off a loss like that, got to be more positive. We've got to put it behind us and look at that orange dog and get focused and think of something positive to say to somebody else to help their day out. It was a good thing seeing it out there."
Dooley said equipment manager Roger Frazier found the statue in Sweden. Asked if the dog would be rolled through the T with the team before Saturday's game (TV: ESPNU, 7:15 p.m.) against Vanderbilt, Dooley laughed.
"No," he said. "It's too heavy."
On the Mend: Freshman running back Marlin Lane wore a green, non-contact jersey at Tuesday's practice. Lane, who took a hard hit to his shoulder Saturday, has nursed a variety of injuries over the past few weeks.
Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers wore a brace on his left knee, but was not limited during the portion of practice open to reporters.
Doomed From The Start: A few moments before his pass to fullback Channing Fugate sailed well out of reach, kicker Michael Palardy had a bad feeling about the fake field-goal attempt UT was about to run in the first quarter against Arkansas.
"When I was doing my steps back, (Arkansas players) actually said 'Watch the fake,' " Palardy said. "I was kind of out of luck there.
"Channing Fugate was supposed to run a corner and by the time I was getting pursued, I had to get rid of the ball. He wasn't even looking at me. I had to throw the ball hoping he would turn around and make an athletic catch or something like that. I did the best I could to try to get it to him."
The incomplete pass wasn't Palardy's only down moment in his first game back from an injury that sidelined him the previous week against Middle Tennessee State. He averaged just 23.5 yards on his two punts thanks to an ugly 12-yarder in the third quarter.
"It was just one of those days. It was one of those days for the whole team," Palardy said. "It was one of those days where no one was feeling it. I wasn't feeling it. It's hard to get a rhythm when we're putting two guys in there.
"It's just one of those days you have to get over and not really look at and frown upon."