Injuries hamper Daniel Gray, Dallas Thomas

Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas (71) tries on the winner's leather helmet after the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against North Carolina State, beginning the NCAA college football season, in Atlanta., on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. Tennessee won 35-21.(AP Photo/John Amis)

Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas (71) tries on the winner's leather helmet after the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against North Carolina State, beginning the NCAA college football season, in Atlanta., on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. Tennessee won 35-21.(AP Photo/John Amis)

A couple of players were held out of practice Thursday, the final "physical" session of Tennessee's open week.

Daniel Gray, a freshman cornerback, was sidelined by "concussion-like symptoms,'' coach Derek Dooley said.

Gray's injury came Wednesday in practice. While there's no reason to think Gray won't be ready for the Oct. 13 visit to Starkville, Miss., to play Mississippi State, the missed practice time this week isn't a good thing. Gray was one of several young defensive backs the coaches were hoping to work extensively this week.

Senior offensive lineman Dallas Thomas also sat out Thursday. Dooley said Thomas could use the day off to heal.

***

Dooley pronounced it a good week of practice, with two physical days of work.

"I didn't come off any day saying they weren't ready to go,'' he said, "but this team has been that way the whole year.

"They're a good group, They're a focused group. That doesn't mean they're coming out there 'cant wait to practice on an open date' but they're very workmanlike.''

Today will be limited to some conditioning and weight work, then the squad will be dismissed for a "48-hour hall pass,'' Dooley said.

"They need to manage it the right way so they can come back fresh and ready to go.''

***

Thursday morning's session included an introduction to Mississippi State's formations.

The Vols last played the Bulldogs in 2008 and have not faced the Dan Mullen-coached version. Mullen took over for Sylvester Croom in 2009.

"It was like a Monday practice,'' Dooley said, "just kind of introducing what they do, their fronts, their base runs, their throws, their personnel. We'll come back on Monday and get after it pretty good.''

***

Open dates have forever been a subject of debate as to their timing and benefit. That also goes for the open week of practice.

With three SEC games against ranked opponents — State, Alabama and South Carolina — to finish the month, Dooley said sometimes it's better to keep banging than to ease off.

"Sometimes a lot of rest before a lot of physicality doesn't help you,'' he said. "Usually, when I give these guys a couple days off the first day back they're terrible.

"But when you just keep hitting 'em all the time, they just keep going. Your body adjusts to the amount of stress you put on it.''

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 7

Orangeblood13 writes:

maybe with all the big plays we give up, should have started position prep Tuesday coach

I think must win this one

frblalack writes:

If we don't improve our defensive backfield, it's going to be a long season. I completely support our team; we need better play from our linebackers, corners, & safeties. If we can't contain, continue to give up 15-20 yard pass plays up the middle,(playing soft) and are unable to make open-field tackles...just WOW!

Our defense HAS to rise to the occasion!

All Vols - Just the TRUTH about our lack of execution on the d-side of the ball - Go Big Orange!

SCVFL writes:

in response to frblalack:

If we don't improve our defensive backfield, it's going to be a long season. I completely support our team; we need better play from our linebackers, corners, & safeties. If we can't contain, continue to give up 15-20 yard pass plays up the middle,(playing soft) and are unable to make open-field tackles...just WOW!

Our defense HAS to rise to the occasion!

All Vols - Just the TRUTH about our lack of execution on the d-side of the ball - Go Big Orange!

The 15-20 yarders do not hurt near as much as the 75 yarders. But maybe if they fix one it will take care of the other. I sure hope that this week has given them the time to work on some real basics, like staying in their lanes, getting the right angles, and most of all wrapping up the tackles.
Also, hopeful that maybe some of the freshman will add some solidity to the Safeties and Corners.

GO BIG RNG...VFL

tomatosoup writes:

Vol Nation, I do think Coach Dooley used this past week as a time to not only teach, but to also work like heck. I have a feeling that when we see Tennessee play Saturday night against the Bulldogs, we will see a much more seasoned defensive backfield. I said it before and I’ll say it again, the 3-4 defense is not something that is going to be mastered by next Saturday or for that matter, even by the end of the year. What will happen is that our players (game by game and practice by practice) will learn to better position themselves according to how the opposing team’s offense lines up and will learn to closeon the ball more quickly.
I can just about guarantee you that we will not see anymore 75 yard runs/completions next Saturday against MSU and in fact…..I’m seeing a 14 point victory and Tennessee returning to the Top 25 in 9 days (let’s just hope that MSU remains undefeated when we play them next week). Go Vols and man….I hate bye weeks!!!!!

SCVFL writes:

in response to tomatosoup:

Vol Nation, I do think Coach Dooley used this past week as a time to not only teach, but to also work like heck. I have a feeling that when we see Tennessee play Saturday night against the Bulldogs, we will see a much more seasoned defensive backfield. I said it before and I’ll say it again, the 3-4 defense is not something that is going to be mastered by next Saturday or for that matter, even by the end of the year. What will happen is that our players (game by game and practice by practice) will learn to better position themselves according to how the opposing team’s offense lines up and will learn to closeon the ball more quickly.
I can just about guarantee you that we will not see anymore 75 yard runs/completions next Saturday against MSU and in fact…..I’m seeing a 14 point victory and Tennessee returning to the Top 25 in 9 days (let’s just hope that MSU remains undefeated when we play them next week). Go Vols and man….I hate bye weeks!!!!!

Soup,
Still love your optimism. I hope your right on every point. I still am supporting CDD, even though it was rough after the Fl game. That was quite a crash for an old man. Felt better after Ga. game.
But DANG, VOLS gotta stop given up the 70 yarders. Like a lot of others, I think CDD is quickly running out of "moral" victories. But I still believe unless VOLS get totally embarrased in the next 3, he deserves one more year. At that point there are NO excuses, better start winning 6-7 SEC games every year and for God's sake beat Fl.
"mater soup and grilled cheese samiches"
GO BIG RNG...VFL

6972 writes:

in response to SCVFL:

Soup,
Still love your optimism. I hope your right on every point. I still am supporting CDD, even though it was rough after the Fl game. That was quite a crash for an old man. Felt better after Ga. game.
But DANG, VOLS gotta stop given up the 70 yarders. Like a lot of others, I think CDD is quickly running out of "moral" victories. But I still believe unless VOLS get totally embarrased in the next 3, he deserves one more year. At that point there are NO excuses, better start winning 6-7 SEC games every year and for God's sake beat Fl.
"mater soup and grilled cheese samiches"
GO BIG RNG...VFL

I am a combined optimist and realistic. What is concerning to me (as the realist) is, if there is the glaring lack of speed in the d-backfield that I am hearing about exists, how much does it matter if we are lined up right. Always heard that speed kills, and I would think the converse is true. A lack of it can also. Go Orange. Bleeding orange till the end. Best of luck with MSt.

VolGrad writes:

Get well, guys. Let's get ready for MSU.

Go Vols! Beat the dawgs!!!

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