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Vol Fans Prepare Team 117 for Game #1

Aug 17, 2013

By Brian Rice
UTSports.com

RAIN, RAIN, IT'S OKAY!

The steady rain that lasted most of the open practice on Saturday was an added bonus for the Tennessee, who hasn't been able to practice in a wet situation to this point in fall camp.

"The way it's rained here the last couple months, you can't put a value on being able to practice in the rain, to throw wet footballs, to have to catch wet footballs, to have to play on a slippery surface," Jones said. "We try to manufacture throwing wet footballs in practice, but it doesn't beat the real thing. I thought it was an extremely productive night.

The Vols have been forced inside the Neyland-Thopmson Sports Complex on a couple of occasions during camp due to lightning, but with only rain on the horizon Saturday, Jones elected to keep the team on the field at Neyland Stadium to get the full benefit of the conditions.

"Football is a sport that you can play in any type of weather, rain, sleet, snow, whatever it may be," Richardson said. "So staying out here was good."

Quarterback Nathan Peterman said the fans staying in the stands despite the rain added to the total atmosphere.

"Coach Jones told us that 40,000 were there, but until you get out there and see it, it's like `Wow, it's great to have this kind of turnout,'" he said. "When the rain came, it was great that everybody stayed and showed us what a loyal fan base we have."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In many stadiums, a crowd of 39,000 fans signals a fairly successful night at the gate for a game. At Neyland Stadium Saturday night, a crowd of 39,000 braved a driving rain to provide a game-like atmosphere for Butch Jones and the Volunteers in a tune up for the home opener against Austin Peay just two weeks away.

The crowd, many of whom started arriving on campus hours before the start of the event to give their tailgate routines a dry run similar to the one Jones put his team through, moved to higher ground when the rains came, huddling in the seating area underneath the upper deck. But few left the stadium, electing to stay and take in the public's first look at Team 117.

"It was definitely a great experience," junior defensive back Justin Coleman said of the crowd. "That was as close as you can get to real football. All of the fans were happy to be there, you could tell that everybody was ready for a game and this felt just like a game."

Jones began his post-practice media conference by thanking the fans, who he once again referred to as the best in the country.

"It was a game day-like atmosphere and I thought there were some great teaching lessons for our football team," Jones said. "A lot of those guys, walking down that tunnel, hearing the band playing and the excitement, that's the first time they've experienced that. I thought that was a great atmosphere to really develop our football team."

"It just shows the commitment of our fans," junior Tiny Richardson said, echoing the comments of his head coach. ""For me, especially for me, when I get under the lights I turn it on automatically. That is what I live for, performing in front of the fans. When you have 100,000 or 40,000 whatever it may be watching you, you have to step up."

The fans in attendance didn't just simulate the crowd that the Vols will see this season, they also helped the team dial up the intensity on the field. Coleman thought the practice, particularly the team periods, were even more competitive than the already competition-driven practices the Vols normally go through.

"When the fans are out there, you don't want to mess up in front of 40,000 or however many fans that were here," he said.


 

 

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