KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Vols opened preseason practice for the 2012 season with an emphasis on fundamentals and finding a running game.
"The biggest thing that I wanted to emphasize to them is that this is when you begin to develop habits," head coach Derek Dooley said.
"If you don't train the right way, train to finish and develop that habit, when it gets to crunch time you aren't going to be able to finish it off. That is our starting point right now."
The Vols are looking to improve a running attack that averaged just 90-yards per game in 2011, which ranked fifth worst in NCAA Division I.
"You know I would like to say we got a preseason Heisman Trophy guy, but we got what we got, we got some good backs and I'm kind of excited to see who's going to emerge," Dooley said.
"But any coach who says I'm excited that I don't know who our running back is going to be is lying."
The Vols have three prime candidates for the starting job.
Sophomore Marlin Lane rushed for 280 yards and two touchdowns in 2011. Junior Raijon Neal rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Devrin Young had just six carries.
The Vols lost starting running back Tauren Poole to graduation. He led the Vols with 693 yards rushing in 2011.
"Competition is going to be fun, because we have a lot of backs that bring things to the table," said Neal. "I feel with the guys we have nobody is a jealous type person, we want to see everybody do well but at the same time work and push each other."