Tennessee's defense cannot be simplified any more than it already has, a somewhat exasperated Derek Dooley said earlier this week.
The Tennessee coach had directed defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri to cut out some of the complexities from the Vols' new 3-4 scheme to help players react more instinctively on the field.
At this point, Dooley said, there is little else to strip.
"We (simplified) big-time. A couple of times the long balls (against Alabama) were from being simple," Dooley said. "You can't just sit there and play one front and one coverage the whole game when you play good teams. If somebody did that to us, we would put 60 (points) on them."
On Wednesday, Sunseri downplayed the impact of the simplifications.
"I don't believe we've stripped away that much," Sunseri said. "We did simplify it a little bit. We took some checks out. But these guys are busting their butt. They are coming in and watching tape and doing what they need to do. ... When you go out there and play against football teams you have to execute. Executing and consistency are the most important things you have to do."
Sunseri did acknowledge some of the growing pains in the implementation of his defense. Ideally, he said, players can quickly identify what the offense is doing and adjust accordingly. Tennessee isn't always able to do that.
"Young men who are playing this game have to understand that you are no longer able to come out here and play one front and one coverage," he said. "There are multiple things that the offense is doing and you have to be able to adjust and apply your checks. Until you get to that process where you can go, see a formation, know your check and apply it, you're going to have some problems."
Running back Rajion Neal (ankle) has practiced all week and seems ready to play Saturday at South Carolina after sitting out last week.
"Obviously he's a good football player and we'd love to have him back," said offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart watched part of Tennessee's practice on Wednesday.
Tennessee amassed more yardage against Alabama than any other team this season, but Dooley was critical of the Vols' offense. So was Chaney, who said scoring only 13 points was unacceptable.
"When you score as few points as we did Saturday, nobody is playing at the level of football you want them to play at," he said. "Ultimately our job is to score points and we aren't getting that done."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.