Aug. 31, 2009
Members of the Tennessee football team will say they've been working pretty hard for the last four weeks, but Monday head coach Lane Kiffin asked them to dig a little deeper as they prepare for the season opener Sept. 5 vs. Western Kentucky.
"I see a difference (in the players' approach) because we created one today," Kiffin said. "It's time for them to understand that they need to go to another level. Our meetings were more intense than they have been. Our focus was directed at one thing instead of just all about getting better.
"I think it's good for our players to see that there is a change. We still like to have fun; we still like to have an environment they enjoy being in, but there's no more time to mess around, no more time for mistakes. We have to play extremely well in all three phases of the game."
Kiffin's weekly game preparation routine for the upcoming season won't vary much from the four weeks of grueling workouts. The Vols will be asked to maintain their intensity and physicality, but they will do it in shorter practices.
"It's the length. There are times that it is just as physical, but it's not near as many plays and it's not nearly as long," Kiffin said of the differences between a game-week practice and a camp workout.
Tennessee continues game preparations for the next three days before walking though on Friday. Kickoff vs. the Hilltoppers is set for 12:21 p.m. Saturday.
Starters on Special Teams: In an effort to truly be excellent in all three phases of the game, Kiffin has asked several starters to play significant roles on special teams.
"We have to play great special teams as we continue to develop this offense," Kiffin said. "There are four core special teams, and Eric Berry is starting on two of them and Montario Hardesty is starting on one. We have put a huge emphasis on special teams, and every person that can help us win on special teams is out there."
Moore Progressing: Tennessee may get help at the wide receiver position sooner than expected as Denarius Moore appears ahead of schedule in rehabbing his foot injury. The junior responsible for Tennessee's three longest passing plays last season was originally expected back in mid-to-late September, but it appears he might be catching passes a week or two sooner.
"I'm very surprised at Denarius, how well he's doing," Kiffin said. "He actually ran routes today. They said he could play this week, but I can't imagine that happening."
Defense Healthy: Through more than 25 practices in the month of August, Tennessee's defensive coaches could always look to the sideline and see one of their key players on a stationary bike, injured and not practicing. But on the last day of the month , the Vols put the full defensive squad on the field for the first time.
"Our whole defense is out here for the first time since we've been together," Kiffin said. "It was a very grueling camp, so it's great to see so many guys healthy right now."
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR SATURDAY'S OPENER
Tickets for Saturday's 2009 football season opener are available through the UTtix.com and UTsports.com Web sites. Orders also can be made by calling the Thompson-Boling Arena ticket office at (865) 656-1200, or (800) 332-VOLS (8657) inside the state of Tennessee. Ticket prices are $40 or $43, depending on location.
Other home games available at those prices are Ohio on Sept. 26, Memphis on Nov. 7 and Vanderbilt on Nov. 21. Tickets to the Sept. 12 home game against UCLA are available for $60 or $63, depending on location. Tickets also are available for Tennessee's Nov. 28 game at Kentucky for $40.