The Tennessee football team concluded fall camp Saturday after its fourth and final preseason scrimmage.
The Vols went through many game-like situations and focused more on mental preparations after a very physical week of practice. Special teams was the focus in the non-contact scrimmage.
Head coach Lane Kiffin expressed his confidence in the improvement of kicker Daniel Lincoln and punter Chad Cunningham.
“Both had a great (fall) camp and summer,” Kiffin said. “(I) feel very good, would not have said that after spring (practice).”
Lincoln, the Vols placekicker, hopes to regain the form that helped him become a second team All-SEC selection as a freshman in 2007. After the scrimmage he said his confidence was as good as it had ever been after his work this offseason.
“I’ve been pretty close to 100 percent kicking in the stadium,” Lincoln said. “Scrimmages have been really realistic and game-like.”
Lincoln referred to special teams coach Eddie Gran as being “in the next level” as far as coaching, saying he knows how to relate to the kickers and he knows what it takes to succeed in the SEC. Kiffin also said that Gran has done a great job working with Lincoln and with Bram Cannon who is doing a good job as holder, he said.
The punting duties belong to Cunningham, who punted in five games last season and said he feels like his punting has improved.
“I’ve definitely had the best camp I’ve ever had,” Cunningham said after the scrimmage.
When asked what he worked on the most in the offseason, Cunningham quickly noted leg strength to get longer hangtimes.
“My leg is a totally different leg than it was during the spring,” he said.
In addition to punting, Cunningham will also handle the kickoff duties for the Vols.
Junior safety Dennis Rogan and freshman tailback David Oku will return kickoffs for the Vols. Oku said he tries to pattern his return game after Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester.
Freshman wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson will return punts for the Vols. Richardson has had some fumbling problems in practice, so Rogan might get a chance to return punts as well.
Lincoln noted that he had been crossing off goals throughout the offseason, and he is hoping the special team can help to do the same during the year.
“The team goals are to beat Florida, beat Alabama, win the big games here at home and on the road and help (the team) get back to where we belong, which is in Atlanta in December and into a BCS bowl game,” he said.