Cooper Mays made his season debut against South Carolina for Tennessee football. He didn’t play in the first four games at all after undergoing a surgical procedure before the season.
For linemen in Josh Heupel’s offense, it’s tough. Mays was able to play the whole game though in his first one back.
“I’ve taken it really serious, though,” Mays said of his conditioning on The Vol Report. “The times I wasn’t able to do football, like contact because of my injury, I was able to run and do stuff like that in the pool and everything. So I did a lot of that stuff working on my conditioning before coming back. Drink some beet juice before you go out. Do a little bit more. A little bit more oxygen in your blood.”
Mays admits he was hurting the day after the South Carolina game. Nevertheless, his impact was felt on the field.
The offensive line has been the biggest question mark through the first part of Tennessee’s season. Joe Milton III was only sacked once against the Gamecocks.
Having Mays back also freed up some versatility with Andrej Karic and Jeremiah Crawford both sidelined. Mays started 19 games in a row before being sidelined with injury.
The workhorse brings a veteran presence to the center position. The Vols rushed for 246 yards as a team with Mays at center against South Carolina.
The best way to get back into game shape, according to Mays, is to play in-game. The tempo is hard to be replicated outside of that environment.
“You got to do it in the game,” Mays said. “I mean, especially with our tempo and everything. There’s probably a way you could replicate it maybe, but there’s nothing that you can really do other than playing it to to get right. Maybe you could. Put like sleds all the way down the field and push them for like three seconds and then run to the next one and push it for like three seconds and then just keep on going on the field. That’s about it.”