KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT) -- Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley wore a shirt Thursday that read "Milligan College Football: Undefeated since 1950."
The humor in it is that Dooley's Vols will bring football to the Milligan campus for the first time since that date this week when they spend the next six days at the Northeast Tennessee campus.
UT players and coaches packed up a fleet of yellow school buses for the week-long road trip, which will include the team's first fall scrimmage.
"We want to limit ourselves from the distractions and simulate what used to be very common as it relates to team chemistry, getting to know each and building leadership and togetherness," Dooley said. "It's just about creating time where we are away from all that `stuff.'"
Some of that "stuff" showed up during Thursday's practice, held indoors because of heavy rain, as the UT defense struggled to control the offense.
"They had a lot of mental errors and gave up some big plays because of it," Dooley said. "This is the time in camp, especially with the volume of stuff we are throwing at them, it is mental error, mental error, mental error. We have to push them to learn and, at some point, we'll kind of back it down so they can play fast."
Dooley isn't the only one excited about the opportunity to get away and focus on just football for a while.
"I think that this gives our team an opportunity to grow closer," junior linebacker Jacques Smith said. "This summer we've grown as a strong unit and I feel like this is another step that we can take to becoming a really, really great team. We are going to go there and focus in on everything we need to do to get better. Once we come back it is game time in the Georgia Dome."
A Tennessee native from Ooltewah, Smith was familiar with Milligan College before it was announced the Vols would train there, but probably could not have picked it out on a map.
"I kind of knew where it was from driving past it," Smith said. "I didn't know the exact location, but I knew it is out there in the boonies."
TRAINING CAMP INJURY UPDATES
As with the start of any training camp, the Vols have had a few players get dinged up in their first week on the field. Head coach Derek Dooley provided an update on injuries to junior wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and freshman linebacker Kenny Bynum on Thursday.
"Cordarrelle hurt his shoulder," Dooley said. "He fell down after he made a catch so he's got a little small sprain but it shouldn't be too bad. Kenny Bynum tore his meniscus so he'll be out for a while. Right now they are kind of figuring out what surgical procedures they want to do."
Before his injury, the Vols had been impressed with what they had seen out of Bynum.
"He's what we thought in recruiting," Dooley said. "He is instinctive, he's tough and he's smart. The first few practices with him, that's what we saw."
With one inside linebacker going down, another is beginning to work his way back up as redshirt freshman Christian Harris, out with a torn ACL, donned the pads and got some running in during practice Thursday.
"He is four months out (since surgery) right now," Dooley said. "He is going to start running and cutting. This is the beginning window for coming back. The rule of thumb is six months. (Brent) Brewer was back pretty quickly, he probably could have played at five. He was out there practicing at four. I think the next couple of weeks is when we'll get a gauge for how fast (Harris will come back). All signs say he is right on pace for early recovery."
Information provided by UT Sports Media Relations and UTSports.com.
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