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October 16, 2013

Quick HiTs: Leadership, WRs challenged

Twenty-four hours after not hiding the disappointment in his team's Tuesday practice performance, Butch Jones almost instantly gathered his players and issued a stern message in the early moments of practice Wednesday.

With the Vols continuing their preparations for Saturday's battle inside Neyland Stadium against ninth-ranked South Carolina, Tennessee's first-year coach again went to work to set a defined standard and tone in his players' work.

But the Vols, for various reasons, appear to continue to be struggling to find a practice groove this week. That's what's troubling Jones, who noted his team's best week of practice prefaced the Georgia game. It's why Jones is adamant his team regain its focus and then build upon that game.

Josh Smith appeared very limited in practice, while tailback Marlin Lane appeared to be moving back toward being a dependable complementary piece to Rajion Neal.

Tight end A.J. Branisel remained limited in a green jersey as it appeared Joe Stockstill got some work behind starting tight end Brendan Downs.

Defensively, most rotations remained similar to a week ago as Danny O'Brien got more work along the second-team defensive front. Maximizing Corey Vereen's effectiveness while harnessing his intensity, much like Antonio Richardson on the opposite side of the line, remained points of emphasis as well.

The Vols continued to work a variety of special teams looks and also had veteran specialist Michael Palardy again getting work inside Neyland Stadium.

Jones, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and receivers coach Zach Azzanni really worked intensively together with the Vols' wide receivers corps, an unquestioned area of concern for this coaching staff and a position group being consistently charged with finding another level of production and effectiveness in all facets of the game.

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 Brent Hubbs' weekly column and War Room plus we'll 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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