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September 11, 2013

Quick HiTs: Jones pays 9-11 tribute, challenges team

Working in shells as it prepares for its first of five road games this season, Tennessee's football team hit Haslam Field Wednesday afternoon under the watchful eyes of head coach Butch Jones, who donned a New York Police Department hat in tribute to the 9-11 anniversary and naturally as a nod to his father, who was a retired police chief.

Curt Maggitt and Jacques Smith continued to practice in orange jerseys while Corey Vereen was active in a green jersey. That work came on a day as a current Vol, Mo Couch, and former Vol, quarterback Tyler Bray, were named in a Yahoo! Sports investigative report that said they were among five players from the SEC who accepted cash and other illicit benefits.

It appeared that freshman defensive tackle Jason Carr had donned Couch's 44 jersey on the practice field Wednesday afternoon. Sources said Couch was not scheduled to practice Wednesday and that it stemmed from Couch suffering concussive/heat symptons from Tuesday's practice.

UT issued the following statement via Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Jimmy Stanton:

"The education of our student-athletes regarding NCAA rules and extra benefits is and will continue to be the central focus of our compliance efforts. We are aware of the article and examining all of the relevant facts, and we will not comment further."

Tennessee worked early special teams, some goal-line work and various other aspects early in the Vols' Wednesday work.

Ryan Jenkins and Michael Williams worked in the pit, as did kicker George Bullock for a while.

Tight end Joseph Ayers was a spectator at Wednesday's practice watching on crutches and fellow tight end Alex Ellis remains out. Ellis is said to be several weeks away from returning after a foot/ankle injury. That leaves the Vols with Brendan Downs and newcomers Woody Quinn and A.J. Branisel at the tight end position.

The Vols were working high intensity and uptempo but also at perhaps a lesser duration than in the previous two weeks when they prepared for home games. They closed Tuesday's practice almost right at 6:15 p.m. and were set to close around that same time on Wednesday.

Jones, in addition to the duck calls, Oregon fight song and various other sound effects, also continued to verbally challenge a number of players. He specifically challenged both Drae Bowles and Vincent Dallas and their physicality during some special teams drills. But Jones was, as usual, all over the field and working to mentally and physically challenge his entire team.

We'll have complete video and written coverage from visiting with UT's assistant coaches immediately following interviews today and will have full coverage moving forward through the rest of the week.

Also, VolQuest.com is sending its entire staff to Oregon for the Vols' showdown with the second-ranked Ducks and also will have assistance from contributor Grant Ramey.

VolQuest.com will tweet and post notes immediately following today's post-practice comments --- and will do so each day of practice. Additionally we will have a variety of content items this evening, more Thursday including War Room and have podcast and predictions on Friday. Staff twitter handles are: @VolQuest_Rivals, @VolQuest_Paul, @VolQuest_Rob, @AustinPriceless, @John_BriceVQ and special contributor @GrantRamey.

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