KNOXVILLE – Day 12 of fall camp isn’t what most football players dream about.
It was a particularly testing day for the Vols on Tuesday afternoon. In the midst of a nine-practice week, the Vols took Haslam Field on a humid afternoon following a two-a-day session on Monday.
To make it even tougher, coach Butch Jones added his trademark distracting noises during the afternoon session. The loudspeaker played a series of annoying noises – an aircraft engine, a crying baby and other nuisance noises designed to test concentration.
Then came a brief downpour, almost as if orchestrated by Jones to add to the adversity in practice.
The goal? Make the team uncomfortable in mid-August so that it’s ready for the sights and sounds it will encounter playing in the SEC.
“This football team has to learn how to enjoy being uncomfortable,” Jones said. “This is where your football team is developed right now. Your bodies are sore, your minds are weary and it’s that mindset to push through. It’s that competitive edge. Where are we at with that? We still have a long ways to go.
“What I told our football team is that the finish of this week will be critical to our football in leadership and accountability.”
The distracting noises are an old trick Jones has used throughout his coaching career. He briefly unveiled them in the spring, but has said that he tries to not use them too early in the season while still teaching the basics. But nearly halfway through fall camp, Jones decided the team was ready.
“It’s just something you have to push through,” said sophomore safety LaDarrell McNeil.
Injury update: Jacques Smith (thumb), Justin Meredith (hamstring), Corey Vereen (knee) remained out.
Butch Jones didn’t have much of an update on injured cornerback Riyahd Jones, other than confirming he sustained a leg injury and is undergoing further tests. Riyahd Jones said via Twitter on Tuesday that he hadn’t torn anything, but that hasn’t been confirmed by the team yet. He was seen at practice on Tuesday walking without crutches.
Butch Jones also confirmed that walk-on cornerback Michael Williams sustained a shoulder injury, but said he would be out only a few days.
Linebacker Curt Maggitt, running back Marlin Lane, linebacker Justin King and tight end Alex Ellis remained in non-contact jerseys. Maurice Couch, who had been walking on crutches last week with a calf injury, was back on in pads, albeit in a non-contact jersey.
Freshman receiver Paul Harris continued to work with trainers on the side.
. The Vols held a brief red-zone scrimmage and the defense held the advantage for much of it. One offensive highlight was receiver Devrin Young taking a reverse, getting to the corner and hurdling corner Vincent Dallas for a touchdown.
. Jones said that walk-on running back Reggie Juin has moved to cornerback. He joins Dallas as the second offensive player to move to corner this week.
. Dropped passes and errant throws continue to be problems. Jones wants his team to aim for less than 20 balls on the ground in a given practice, but the Vols, by unofficial count, are still nowhere near that number. One period alone had at least 8-10 incomplete passes despite throwing against air on Tuesday.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanielNooga