After a 33-23 loss to Florida on Saturday, Tennessee gets a bye week before it takes on Buffalo on Oct. 1.
Coach Derek Dooley and the Vols will hold more physical and intense practices similar to training camp to help everyone, especially the younger players, continue to develop.
“All the newcomers, this bye week is important to see what they can do,” Dooley said, “but especially the ones like you said — Antonio (Richardson) and Devrin (Young) — who missed so much of camp, we hope they can make a little progress here and that’s what we’ll try to do this week.
 “Every open date is an opportunity to kind of evaluate where you are, figure out what you need to do to improve and then, give some more opportunity for guys to develop behind them. Whether we were 3-0 or 0-3, we were going to treat it the same way.”
Teams use the bye week as a chance to let players rest and hopefully heal some injuries, as well as adjust after they have played a few games.
No adjustment will be bigger for UT than that of moving forward after sophomore receiver Justin Hunter’s season ended Saturday with an ACL tear in his left knee. Hunter, who still leads the SEC in receiving yards despite only playing the opening drive against the Gators, will have surgery and is expected to return in time for spring practice.
“You shape your plan around your players,” Dooley said. “You have to build your offense around your guys, and Justin was our most dynamic playmaker on offense and we were building the offense around him. As a result, he was the one who brought us juice the first two games, brought us juice the first third down against Florida. When you lose that, you can’t replace that, you have to shift to now, who are we shaping the offense around and that’s where we’re going to head. It’s going to have to be a little committee-oriented.”
Da’Rick Rogers, who is now UT’s leading receiver, agreed that it will be hard to replace Hunter.
“Justin’s a big play-maker, you know,” Rogers said. “When he came out the game, you can take easily over 100 yards, over eight catches and a few touchdowns off the board.”
Hunter ended the season with 314 yards and two touchdowns on 17 receptions. Rogers has 20 receptions and 262 yards with four touchdowns. Tight end Mychal Rivera is the next highest receiver with 125 yards from 11 catches.
Dooley said the loss of Hunter’s ability to stretch the field won’t let Tennessee throw to set up an already struggling run game that averages dead last in the SEC with just 81.7 yards per game after they rushed for -9 yards against Florida.
“There’s a multitude of reasons why we’re not running it well,” Dooley said. “It starts with developing a good plan and staying patient from a coaching standpoint. Then, it goes to the runners have got to play more physical. We’re not running the ball well at running back. That’s a fact. And we’ve got to be more physical up front and be a little more nasty.”
 Senior tailback Tauren Poole, who rushed for 1,023 yards last season, had just 18 yards on nine carries Saturday.
“He’s ran well one game and he hasn’t ran well two games,” Dooley said. “We need Tauren to be more consistent. When Tauren is running well, he’s productive. When he’s not running well, he’s not.”
True freshman Marlin Lane — who has looked promising at times, but showed his youth as well — is the Vols’ No. 2 option out of the backfield. He is averaging 2.6 yards on 23 carries so far, but has the most touchdowns for the run game with two.
The Vols host Buffalo on Oct. 1 with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised on CSS.