Fall camp isn't even two weeks old, and Derek Dooley is already taking his Volunteers on the road.
The third-year Vols' head coach is taking his team to Milligan College in northeast Tennessee for six days of practice, according to Evan Woodbery of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel.
Dooley even wore a shirt joking about the trip on Thursday, wearing a shirt that read "Milligan College: Undefeated Since 1950." Milligan disbanded its football program that year.
The trip is due partly because of the ongoing construction on Tennessee's new football complex (which is immaculate), but it is also being used as a team-building exercise.
I love the idea.
It's no secret that there is a lot of pressure on Dooley's team this year, and considering three of the Vols' first five games before the bye are against tough teams (N.C. State, Florida and Georgia), the Vols need to come out hot.
Otherwise, the pressure will be cranked up even more, and nobody associated with the program wants that.
Getting the players and coaches out of Knoxville to the "boonies," as linebacker Jacques Smith said, gets the players away from the pressure of being in Knoxville with all the questions surrounding his team. Classes don't start until Aug. 22, but the lead up to the season and the start of the semester can be a distraction.
Tennessee is an interesting team this year, because the talent has been built back to a level that should make them competitive in the SEC East this season.
The offensive line is one year more mature, Tyler Bray has tremendous upside at quarterback, the wide receiver tandem of Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter is probably the best tandem in the country east of USC, and A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt are two linebackers that new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri can build around.
But despite the upside, they still need to develop team chemistry to be successful.
It's a good idea for any team to make a field trip during camp, but especially in Tennessee's case, considering so much on the line early in 2012.