Tennessee's first full-pad practice was especially grueling workout because of the heat, the added pads and the lack of reinforcements.
Freshmen, transfers and a handful of squad players worked out separately for the final time Sunday evening.
There was no scoreboard for the early session, but Tennessee players and coach Derek Dooley agreed that the offense was far better.
"Today, we won the battle," said offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James.
Dooley said the offense played with a chip on its shoulder.
"The offense came out with an edge, like they'd been kicked around for seven months," Dooley said.
The other side? "They came out like it was a practice."
Dooley said he was especially pleased with the running backs.
"They ran the ball really well," Dooley said. "They hit the holes and when they got into the secondary they didn't stop. Jay (Graham) has done a good job of trying to coach that."nAfter senior linebacker Herman Lathers caught a pass and sprinted through a gauntlet of teammates Sunday, he shouted to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney that he ought to be considered as a Wildcat option.
That's unlikely to happen, but the Vols have auditioned several players at Wildcat this weekend.
Tailback Marlin Lane has been on the veteran side of practice, while linebacker Justin King and receiver Alton "Pig" Howard have worked in the freshman group.
"We're just searching, really, to see who's going to emerge," Dooley said. "I don't know how much (the Wildcat) is going to be part of our offense. We're just finding different ways to do things when what you believe in isn't working, or to be able to supplement what you do on offense."nThose gauntlet drills provided the biggest laughs of the early part of practice. Defensive players crossed over to work with running backs coach Jay Graham and receivers coach Darin Hinshaw.
The defenders practiced intercepting a pass and then holding onto the ball during a return as teammates in the "gauntlet" tried to strip it.
The drill went smoothly for the defensive backs, but once the linemen got involved, the game got rougher. The linemen went for hits rather than strips as their teammate lumbered through the line. A bemused Hinshaw, unaccustomed to working with 350-pound players, had to encourage the linemen to tone it down a notch.nPractices can sometimes be chippy even without pads.
Sophomore defensive lineman Greg Clark had a red eye Sunday as a result of getting poked by offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James' finger a day earlier.