Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee basketball aren't the only ones implementing a "tougher breed" into their program this season.
First-year football coach Butch Jones has been preaching throughout the season that his football team needs to be "Tennessee tough" in order to compete in the SEC on a week-to-week basis.
In order to continue to build that toughness, Jones is calling for full-padded practices this week to get his team better prepared for a stretch run against three SEC opponents that will decide the Vols' postseason fate.
"It's the standard, and that's the way we're going to play football here," Jones said Monday at his weekly press luncheon. "We're going to be a physically tough, a physically tough-minded football team in everything that we do.
"We call it Tennessee tough, and it's not just a fancy slogan, and we have to get much tougher as a football team, and I'm not going to tolerate it as a head football coach, as the caretaker of Tennessee football. Tennessee football is not going to be soft. As we know, building toughness is a process; it just doesn't happen overnight."
Jones frequently shouts "Tennessee tough" on the loudspeaker at Haslam Field while his team practices.
The toughness Jones is attempting to instill into his players could help the team play at a higher level down the stretch, something Jones said UT will have to embrace to win football games in the strongest conference in college football.
He reiterated after a 31-3 loss at Missouri on Saturday that the SEC is "a line of scrimmage league."
"The formula for this team to win is pretty simple; we have to overachieve," Jones said. "We can't beat ourselves. We aren't going to be, talent-wise, the best team we play, but that doesn't make us the best team. The best teams for that given day win, not just best individuals, athletically or individually."
With full-contact practices also comes a higher possibility of injuries, however, and for a team that already lacks depth, the Vols will have to walk a fine line of practicing hard and avoiding injuries.
"I just feel like you have to be smart about it, but at the same time, you have to realize that it is the only way to go out there and play as physical as you want to play," senior center James Stone said. "You have to practice it at full speed and contact. I feel like Coach Jones is going to be smart with it, and he will get us going with full physicality."
While the Vols are 4-1 at home this season – and a couple of inches away from being 5-0 – going on the road has been a struggle this season for UT.
Away from the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium, the Vols are 0-4 and have been outscored 166-44 on opposing team's fields.
"It's the support of our fan base," senior defensive lineman Jacques Smith said. "To play at home in a place like Neyland, it's always special. Neyland Stadium to me is one of the most special places that you could ever play the game of football in."
The Vols' road blunders can also be more attributed to the quality of their road opponents – all of whom have been ranked in the top 10 at one point in 2013.
In the SEC, however, playing highly-ranked teams is the norm and Jones said he doesn't use the tough opponents and hostile environments as an excuse.
"A lot of those road games have been in hostile environments, but that's not a crutch, that's not an excuse, that's life in the SEC, and that's life at Tennessee," Jones said. "The reality is that it does take its toll, but it's a great learning process.
On Saturday, the Vols will host a top-tier opponent in No. 9 Auburn when the Tigers travel to Knoxville for a noon kickoff.
The last chance for UT to pick up an SEC road win comes on Nov. 30 when the Vols travel to play Kentucky in a game that could decide UT's bowl eligibility.
"I just know that we're going through a process of what it takes to play winning football on the road," Jones said. "I think it's a mindset of going on the road, and I think there's a lot that goes into it, and it takes a mature football team mentally and physically to go on the road and win football games."