NASHVILLE - James Franklin didn't change his focus during a pair of fast-paced practices Wednesday on campus, working intently to see more improvement from his own Commodore squad.
After a two-hour morning workout signaled the midway mark of preseason camp, Franklin said the squad will continue to concentrate on its own upgrades - and wait until next week to turn its full attention to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Commodores' season opening opponent on Thursday, Aug. 30.
Franklin was pleased with the Commodores' intensity and effort on Wednesday, but still wanted more commitment to developing overall fortitude.
"It was good, and there was a lot of learning going on, but we still have to get more mentally and physically tough," Franklin said. "In my opinion, the best teams are the ones that are the most mentally tough. We are getting there, but we have to keep pushing."
No distraction is beyond Franklin as he goes about his task. He consistently challenges individual players and entire units throughout practices to give greater energy and effort. Without notice, he'll call for loud music during 11-on-11 drills, trying to affect calls from offensive and defensive sidelines. The sum total of Franklin's actions has created a culture of competition in every drill of every practice.
"When you're tired and worn down, you have to find a way to finish," Franklin told media members. "That's the difference between having a good year and a great year. You just have to finish."
The Commodores will return to the John Rich Practice Facility Thursday afternoon for a single session, then put in two workouts on Friday before holding a second preseason scrimmage on Saturday.
Decisions on Depth Chart, Scout Teams Coming Soon
Franklin said the staff will not start making personnel decisions, such as the team's official depth chart and which players are likely headed for redshirt campaigns, until this weekend at the earliest.
The Appeal of Panu's Hard Work
Franklin said the widely popular YouTube video that features redshirt junior Marc Panu receiving a full scholarship from the coach and celebrating with teammates "is just a good story."
The video has topped 300,000 views and earned widespread national attention for the team-oriented, scholarly fullback prospect. To Panu's coach, it represents everything that's good about the game of college football.
"It's refreshing, and it's what this is supposed to all be about. It's what this country is all about, providing opportunities to become successful, then taking advantage of them. It's just a good story and Marc's a good kid," Franklin said.