Sept. 16, 2009
By TENNESSEE SPORTS INFORMATION
Repetition was the theme for practice Wednesday as the Tennessee Volunteers continued to prepare for Saturday's SEC opener against Florida. While head coach Lane Kiffin would have preferred repeating fewer drills, he was pleased with the way the afternoon finished.
"We had a number of mistakes earlier in practice; I was glad the way they responded at the end," Kiffin said. "Practice became very long with the number of repeats, trying to get everything right. Of course, you'd like to get it right the first time."
The Vols will kick off in Gainesville, Fla., at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The game will be televised on CBS.
Steady rain forced the team indoors for the beginning of practice, but the team later moved to Haslam Field to run drills in wet conditions. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday's game in Florida, so Kiffin wanted the Vols to prepare for possibly playing in inclement weather.
"We weren't as focused as we needed to be today," Kiffin said. "It may be the rain early and going inside, changes in environment than they're used to. It is always good for us to do because that's what happens in football games. You're going into environments you're not used to playing in."
After practice, Kiffin also addressed the status of the offensive line interior, which has nagging injuries at several positions.
"I wouldn't say they're close to full speed, but they're pushing through," Kiffin said. "It's good to see that they're getting out here and getting reps. We're going to continue to push them and hopefully they'll be healthy by the end of the week."
Senior center Josh McNeil, who had started 35 consecutive games before missing the first two matchups of 2009, has continued to make progress in practice since undergoing knee surgery. Kiffin said McNeil could see action in Saturday's game.
"He's doing way better than I would've imagined," Kiffin said. "He's moving around well. When he's in there, there's a comfort level of having him in because he's very smart. The guys next to him are really confident, and those guys feed off him.
"We don't know what would really happen if he had to play with the pounding of a real game, so we'll continue to monitor him."