Learning how to play is one thing, but learning how to prepare to play is different, and that's where Tennessee found itself Tuesday during its second practice of the week.
In his first game week as head coach, Butch Jones is not letting his players off easy just because the grind of fall camp is behind them.
"Everything is a learning process with this football team," Jones said. "I think the big thing is learning how to prepare now that it's in season ... Every opportunity is sacred; every practice rep is critical."
The players have taken Jones' message to heart while staying focused on the task at hand despite playing Austin Peay on Saturday, a team that's 2-9 FCS record last season portrays them as a walk-over.
"It's just another game week," junior linebacker A.J. Johnson said. "We're all out here preparing for Austin Peay. We aren't looking ahead and stuff. We're just preparing for the team we got right now. We're all excited to get out there so we can show Team 117."
Johnson has not noticed any significant differences in this week compared to game weeks under Derek Dooley, meaning the learning curve for him and a veteran group of linebackers has not been too difficult.
"A game week is a game week," the preseason second-team All-SEC selection said. "We're preparing just like we did last year. We're preparing each week, we're preparing for the team, watching a lot of films, going over plays, we got our scouts doing a good job, so we're just preparing like a regular game week."
In addition to a whole new coaching staff, there will be several other new faces on the field, specifically in the secondary.
Cameron Sutton and Malik Foreman, two true freshmen cornerbacks, are expected to play major roles for the Vols' defense this year. Sutton will start at cornerback along with junior Justin Coleman, while Foreman will be Coleman's backup.
The experienced Coleman believes Sutton is deserving of his place in the starting lineup.
"Cam's been making plays from day one," Coleman said. "He's been working hard. He's been improving on everything he's been doing.
"He's got great ball skills. He knows how to go up and get the ball when the ball is in the air. He competes hard. He gives a lot of effort."
Coleman also praised Foreman, saying the Kingsport native will be ready to play under the lights Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
"Malik's been progressing since day one," Coleman said. "Malik, I feel like he's prepared to back up or even start. He shows a lot of aggressiveness. He can tackle, he's got ball skills, same as Cam."
Since Coleman is one of the veteran players on defense, the freshmen will be looking to him for leadership. He knows they will make mistakes, but his belief in the duo will not waver.
"I kind of build their confidence before we even go out there," Coleman said. "I kind of encourage them, if anything happens to just get up and play another down. I tell them it's going to happen, but just keep playing and, of course, just go out there and make plays."
Jones said the Vols would begin "to taper off" their physicality in the upcoming practices as they try to become game ready for his coaching debut.