Vols "feel the noise" in Wednesday's practice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Sports) -- It's impossible to truly replicate the impact of 102,455 screaming fans at Neyland Stadium, but Tennessee tried to prepare its ears during Wednesday morning's practice by piping in artificial crowd noise at Haslam Field.
"We implemented a little crowd noise today, and we had a lot of rat-trapping," head coach Derek Dooley said. "We made a lot of mistakes (because) a lot of the noise gets you thinking. (It's a) good thing we have another day to try to polish it up. Went out there and tried to create a little chaos for the young guys, and that's what it looked like. That's why we have an extra day, and hopefully we can polish it up."
With Saturday's game being the first on the 2011 schedule, the Vols have had ample time to prepare for their season-opening opponent, Montana.
"Anytime there is an open date, and this is kind of like having an open date, you like to get a little extra day or two ahead and that's what we're doing," Dooley said. "You always need it."
"We needed each other a lot. It was a good feeling knowing you weren't the only one out there that was getting thrown into the fire," James said. "We just had each other's back, and I feel like you play better when you are playing for the guy next to you as well."
Young offensive line ready to roll
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ja'Wuan James, James Stone and Zach Fulton had to learn on the job last year, when the freshmen were expected to help anchor Tennessee's offensive line.
They took their lumps, but now that experience is paying off.
The three sophomores who each got at least five starts last season brought plenty of raw talent to the field but made numerous mental mistakes while trying to learn how to block the fierce defensive lines in the Southeastern Conference.
Coach Derek Dooley still sees the occasional error from the players who likely will start for the Volunteers when they open Sept. 3 against Montana, but he still feels better about the unit.
James, who started every game last season, is expected to continue at right tackle, with Fulton at right guard, where he made five starts in 2010, and Stone at center. Junior Dallas Thomas is the starting left tackle and is expected to be joined by sophomore Alex Bullard at left guard.
"I think the whole right side has made tremendous progress," Dooley said. "We're not as far along on the left side because it took us a while to figure out the left guard position. We're not where we need to be, but they're getting better every day. As long as we don't have any injuries or anything crazy happen, I think we have what we want right there."