KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - As Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley’s shirt read on Thursday, Milligan College football is undefeated since 1950.
The Vols are hoping a little of that karma rubs off as they pack up a fleet of yellow school buses and move their training camp to the upper corner of East Tennessee for a week starting Friday.
“We want to limit ourselves from the distractions and simulate what used to be very common as it relates to team chemistry, getting to know each and building leadership and togetherness,” Dooley said. “It’s just about creating time where we are away from all that `stuff.’”
Some of that “stuff” showed up during Thursday’s practice, held indoors because of heavy rain, as the UT defense struggled to control the offense.
“They had a lot of mental errors and gave up some big plays because of it,” Dooley said. “This is the time in camp, especially with the volume of stuff we are throwing at them, it is mental error, mental error, mental error. We have to push them to learn and, at some point, we’ll kind of back it down so they can play fast.”
Dooley isn’t the only one excited about the opportunity to get away and focus on just football for a while.
“I think that this gives our team an opportunity to grow closer,” junior linebacker Jacques Smith said. “This summer we’ve grown as a strong unit and I feel like this is another step that we can take to becoming a really, really great team. We are going to go there and focus in on everything we need to do to get better. Once we come back it is game time in the Georgia Dome.”
A Tennessee native from Ooltewah, Smith was familiar with Milligan College before it was announced the Vols would train there, but probably could not have picked it out on a map.
“I kind of knew where it was from driving past it,” Smith said. “I didn’t know the exact location, but I knew it is out there in the boonies.”