Derek Dooley responds to a question that asks if Tuesday practices are always bad
The problems were clear to Eric Russell, and there was nothing subtle about how much they cost Tennessee.
The Vols special teams coach left little doubt about it when he rattled off a quick checklist from the trip last Saturday to Florida.
Missed assignments that led to a blocked punt? Three points for the Gators.
A field goal well wide of the uprights? That's three the Vols should have had, plus an additional three when Florida converted that misfire into a successful kick going the other way.
A bad punt combined with a decent return that produced a short field for the Gators? Tack on another three.
It all added up to 12 when Russell was done counting after practice on Wednesday morning, and the implication wasn't hard to decipher as the Vols looked back on a 33-23 loss heading into their bye week.
"Those points were a result just of special teams miscues," Russell said. "Florida out-hit us, out-competed us in a lot of things. That has got to get fixed, it's got to get corrected and they've got to understand that and how important it is.
"Until we get that mentality like we've always talked about, just being ... competitive, physical cats, we're going to struggle with some things like that."
Those issues came with a steep price tag against the Gators, and the Vols have been reminded of that during a sort of mini-training camp without an opponent to prepare for this weekend.
UT (2-1, 0-1 SEC) has already announced one change in the personnel, officially making Matt Darr the punter after showing signs of progress with three attempts that averaged 44 yards against the Gators.
But there are only so many bodies on hand in the program for Russell to use, so making wholesale changes isn't necessarily an option. And even if a vast majority of those Vols are either freshmen or sophomores, Russell isn't pointing to youth as an excuse.
He harped on poor execution after a performance that included a 37-yard miss from kicker Michael Palardy, a whiff by protector John Propst on the blocked punt and another game without a spark returning kickoffs or punts. But in doing so, the only finger Russell pointed was at himself in the search for some schematic answers.
The rest will be up to the team to play with the kind of intensity the Vols need to swing those 12 points the other way and perhaps turn defeats into a few victories in the process.
"I don't know if it takes time to learn that if you're in a fistfight, you're going to hit or be hit, fight or flight," Russell said. "Now, do you maybe trigger as fast as you should being younger? Probably not. But that's what we're trying to do with this open week, getting to where we can play faster. The being physical part, they either have it or they don't.
"I don't know how you can teach them to be physical. We can preach it and work stuff on it, but they've got to go out on Saturday and do it."
That chance won't come at the end of this week, and a non-conference date with Buffalo after the open date probably won't provide a true test of improvement for the Vols.
But there's a line of hard-nosed, big-hitting, speedy opponents waiting for UT after that, and Russell isn't making it a secret how those games might be won or lost.
"There are places here and there where guys aren't performing right, but at the same time you've got to find someone who has proven they're worthy of stepping up to get the chance," he said. "That's the stuff we're looking for right now, guys stepping up and playing with a little more competitiveness.
"As bad as we played at Florida, as much as we wanted to be better in all phases, you eliminate any of those (mistakes), maybe it's a different fourth quarter. Our guys have to understand that — that's their job right now. And it's my job to figure out how to get that stuff right and get them thinking about how their play does affect the next play."
At the moment, Russell has some clear-cut examples to illustrate the point.