August 23, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – With the start of classes on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus getting underway on Monday morning, the Skyhawk football team also turned a new leaf as they transition from the grind of fall camp into a more traditional practice schedule leading up to the season opener on Thursday, Sept. 1.

“It certainly a different mindset,” said UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson. “There are so many things going on. We have to be able to be a student-athlete, go to class, take care of our business, find time to take care of our papers and projects while still being able to come out here and practice. It is all part of the process, but I’m glad that we play need week so we have a couple of days to iron out all of the details.”

The Skyhawks returned to the practice field for the first time since Saturday evening’s scrimmage with a different pace. Gone are the days of two-a-days and late evening practices. With the resumption of classes, practices move from the evening to afternoons, with the one exception: Monday Night Football.

While much of practice seems like any other day, the Skyhawks implement their weekly tradition of Monday Night Football to the practice plan on Monday evenings. With the traditional theme song ringing throughout Hardy M. Graham Stadium, Monday evenings provide a spotlight for the Skyhawks stars of the future.

“We get the Monday Night Football theme song going and it’s a great way to get our third string and young guys about 25-30 plays,” said Simpson. “I tell them that it’s not only for next year, but also for this year. Who can play week 2 or week 5? Who is making progress to challenge to be a solid No. 2 or get on special teams. For us it is invaluable. The older guys have bought in and had a lot of fun with it. It’s kind of their legacy because they grew up doing this on Monday nights for 10 or 11 weeks. When you redshirt a guy and get an extra 300 plays over the course of the year, that’s kind of been the key to our success.”

With the season opener less than 10 days away, the Skyhawks will conduct their final dress rehearsal of the preseason with a scrimmage on Thursday, Aug. 25.

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