Tyler Bray on spring practice and his improvement at QB
Herman Lathers was sore.
He still wasn't ready to pronounce himself totally healthy, and the Tennessee linebacker wasn't all that happy about a few personal mistakes.
But the senior made it through his first significant action in more than a year, and that seemed to outweigh all the rest after the Vols wrapped up their scrimmage on Friday morning at Neyland Stadium.
"Definitely it was good getting out and going full speed for the first time in almost a year and a half," Lathers said. "Personally, I think I'm at a good point right now. I've got a lot of work to do, but I'm at a good point right now.
"I was able to go straight through. (Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri) stresses that you've got to be mentally tough, and unless someone has to carry you off the field, you should never come off the field, so that's what I'm trying to do, to fight and push through injuries even though I'm hurting."
Lathers was able to make somebody else share some of that pain in a live setting for the first time in a while, chipping in four tackles in the closed workout, according to statistics provided by the program.
Even as he works back from the fractured ankle that kept him on the sideline for all of last season and the shoulder surgery that forced him to miss spring camp a year ago, Lathers hardly seemed satisfied. But making it through the scrimmage without any physical limitations is surely a fine way to start the comeback, particularly since the Vols figure to need his services as they transition to a 3-4 defense with Lathers at middle linebacker.
"Good presence out there," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "He's active, he's physical, got some leadership qualities.
"It's so important you can't get guys hurt. It's important that you're deep and talented so when you get a guy hurt it doesn't affect you, but we need Herman to stay healthy because he's a good presence for us over there."
Off the Mark: The Vols might have given work on their running game a higher priority, but Tyler Bray wasn't exactly short on opportunities to throw the ball around.
The junior quarterback just simply couldn't convert on the majority of them.
According to the numbers provided by UT, Bray finished 13-of-32 for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception. And while acknowledging the Vols were more concerned about cleaning up some issues on the ground, he also admitted missing out on a few chances to make big plays when they did air it out.
"There was a lot more running than passing," Bray said. "But when I had my throwing opportunities, I still missed my targets.
"So I just need to work on that."
Bumps and Bruises: The roster of players in red, non-contact jerseys remained the same for the Vols.
But those players held out of the scrimmage had a couple more teammates to keep them company.
Nose tackle Maurice Couch and defensive back Geraldo Orta were both dealing with concussions and weren't available for the morning workout.
They were joined by wide receiver Justin Hunter (knee), cornerback Prentiss Waggner (shoulder), linebacker Curt Maggitt (shoulder), safety Brent Brewer (knee) and defensive lineman Daniel Hood (shoulder) on the sideline.