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Tennessee first string grateful for a lighter load on Saturday

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Games like UT-Martin may soon become a thing of the past for teams like Tennessee. A super conference, as has been hinted at, could change the way a football season is scheduled.

If a super conference is indeed the way college football decides to go, then FCS teams like UT-Martin will be cast into, well, who knows where. In the meantime, the top 30 or so teams will just play each other. College football could quickly become like the NFL in which every week is a challenge. That wasn’t the case in a 65-24 win over the Skyhawks.

Tennessee’s players are just fine with that. Most of the Vols starters were done before the band hit the field for halftime.

“I’m not saying that this was like a bye week, but you’re used to – or at least I’m used to – playing upwards of 50 snaps a game, 50 snaps of physical, hitting somebody every play, getting hit, every play, running full speed,” Warren said. “You cut that in half, right? Say I only played a half, so I only played half the snaps. So now you’re not you’re taking half the reps and you know, every single block might not be that super big collision where you’ve got to fully exert yourself.”

Tennessee center Cooper Mays was noticeably different during The Vol Report on Sunday. Just a week before, the Alabama game had clearly taken its toll.

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“After a game like Alabama or like Georgia, teams like that, you kind of feel like you’ve been in a car crash after it because you normally play all four quarters,” Mays said. “It’s hard-nosed football. Anytime you can steal a game where you only have to play a half, it’s going to make a ton of difference on your body because just the play count is cut in half…it’s invaluable for sure.”

Playing in big games week in and week out has its advantages. So does having an occasional FCS school like UT-Martin on the schedule.

“It’s good to have games like that where you can kind of just go take care of business and play hard, play well and make plays and do what you do,” Warren said. “But it’s also good for the guys, you know, second, third strings to be able to go in there and get some experience and play and build up some confidence and just let them go out there and play because they earn it and they work for it the same way that we do.”

The work may be the same. However, on Saturday, there just wasn’t as much of it.

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