KNOXVILLE (UT) - When the Tennessee veterans and newcomers joined forces for the first time in training camp on Monday, head coach Derek Dooley simply wanted them to focus on getting better each day.
Or as he likes to call it, "Relentless pursuit of continuous improvement."
For Dooley, that requires a three-pronged approach to practice.
"One is being coachable and with so many guys their pride becomes an obstacle to their ability to improve because they don't want to take instruction," Dooley said. "It happens in all of athletics, so being coachable is important. (The second is) having a plan on how you are going to improve and identifying a few things each day and then the third one is probably more important than anything. That is valuing self-improvement over self-promotion."
That third prong is where the Vols ran into some minor trouble on Monday, but it was nothing more than Dooley had expected for the first combined practice.
"When you get a team and everybody is moving around on the depth chart and (seeing that) he is playing this position and he is playing that position, if you focus on your self-improvement instead of where you are relative to the other guys you tend to get better a lot," Dooley said. "That is always an issue early in camp, especially when you bring the whole roster together because now they are counting reps. It was a good day other than that."
One of the biggest obstacles facing the UT coaching staff was integrating the newcomers into the full practice after coaching them separately the first three days of camp. That work done on the front-end in terms of acclimating them to the expectations in practice paid dividends though as they stepped in seamlessly.
"They did good and I think that is the value of those first three days, just getting integrated into how we do things," Dooley said. "They were fine. Nobody really stood out good or bad, just from standing out on the field."
Information provided by UT Sports Information and UTSports.com.