On Saturday, the football Vols completed their first scrimmage since the start of spring practice. Coach Derek Dooley used the scrimmage to judge where his team currently stood.
"This is always a good time to re-evaluate where you are," Dooley said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us. Now, we're going in and treating this week as if it's game week. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Saturday scrimmage so we can see what kind of improvement we've made from scrimmage to scrimmage."
The defense shined in the scrimmage, intercepting four passes, including two from starting quarterback Tyler Bray. On the offensive side, sophomore running back Rajion Neal had 152 yards and three touchdowns.
"Once I get out there in that secondary and I see what's going on, I'm pretty much going to try to get to that end zone," Neal said. "I most likely will get there the majority of the time."
Dooley also noted how the scrimmages were a good way to judge the progression of their quarterbacks.
"Sometimes it's hard to see the growth, because the results aren't always what you want when you're throwing a lot at them and you don't have a nice, tight game plan that they can home in on," Dooley said. "It's like most players, if we just get a little bit better at something every day and you don't sweat over the things he's not getting better at, I think we're OK. As long as we're seeing a path of climbing and growing and we don't get too caught up in the results — that's what we have to do. You have to trust it a little bit."
A major concern for UT fans is the injury to junior defensive back Prentiss Waggner. Waggner injured his left hand on Saturday; however, he participated in Tuesday's practice in Neyland Stadium wearing a red non-contact jersey.
The severity of Waggner's injury is unknown, though Dooley remains optimistic.
"I wouldn't call it significant because he's out there," Dooley said. "I told him he didn't hit anybody anyway, so really he's still live. We're just actually blowing the whistle when he gets near the runner. Most of his work that he needs is pattern-match, covering, and he can still do all of that."
UT's new strength coach, Ron McKeefery, continues to draw praise from his players. Junior defensive end Willie Bohannnon praised McKeefery, as he said he has personally seen a difference through his workouts.
"I've gotten the whole nine yards of bigger, stronger and faster," Bohannon said. "All the players have. You can't do anything but give credit to the strength coach, it's what's written in his resume. What else can you do except say it's because of him?"