Tennessee practicing on the road

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee will hold preseason practice at Milligan College in Elizabethton for the next six days.

The school, located about 110 miles east of Knoxville, disbanded its football program in 1950.

The Vols boarded school buses shortly after practice ended on Thursday to make the two-hour trip. The week away from Knoxville lines up with the move of all the football offices and operations into Tennessee's new football training center.

The Vols hope the Milligan College will give them an opportunity to bond.

"We wanted to do this to limit ourselves from the distractions and simulate what used to be very common as it relates to team chemistry and getting to know each other, building leadership and togetherness," coach Derek Dooley said.

Dooley and players admitted that last year team unity became an issue as the season progressed.

"This summer, we've grown as a stronger unit and I feel like (going to Milligan) is an even closer step we can take to becoming a really, really great team," junior outside linebacker Jacques Smith said. "We're going to go there and focus on everything we need to do to get better."

Sophomore left tackle Antonio Richardson compared going on the trip to one of his favorite movies, "Remember the Titans."

Tennessee has a contingency plan if it rains and the team cannot use the outdoor grass fields at Milligan. Dooley said he wouldn't have agreed to make the trip if the Vols didn't have a turf field available in case of inclement weather.

Tennessee will have its first scrimmage of fall camp at Milligan on Saturday.

Milligan is a private college with an enrollment of about 1,200 students. It is a member of the NAIA and has 23 athletic programs.

Dooley said junior college wide receiver transfer Cordarrelle Patterson missed Thursday's practice with shoulder sprain.

According to Dooley, the injury "shouldn't be too bad" for Patterson, who has impressed coaches and teammates in fall camp and is already running with the first team in three-receiver formations.

"The challenge for him is learning the offense and learning how to function recognizing coverages and adapting to what (opposing defenses) do to stop him," Dooley said. "We have to do a good job as coaches to bring him along and keep him in the mix without overwhelming him. That's going to be the challenge."

Dooley announced freshman inside linebacker Kenny Bynum tore the meniscus in his knee earlier in fall camp and "could be out for a while." He said the team's medical staff was still evaluating surgery options.

Redshirt freshman inside linebacker Christian Harris is four months recovered from surgery to repair a torn ACL he suffered in spring practice. Dooley said Harris has begun running and cutting, but he'll know more about a timetable for his return in the next few weeks.

The injuries to Bynum and Harris have Tennessee concerned about the depth at inside linebacker behind established starters Herman Lathers and A.J. Johnson.