SEC Coaches Speak

Tennessee Coach Phil Fulmer pointed out to his players that he won't be between the lines when the Vols take on Alabama in Tuscaloosa Saturday. That was part of what was heard on the weekly teleconference with Southeastern Conference coaches Wednesday. Here are the highlights.


(On facing Alabama) "Obviously we have a great understanding of the challenge that we have. Alabama is a great football team, all the way around. It's a great rivalry and a great classic kind of football game, and we are looking forward to the challenge."

(On rivalry) "As I told the guys here, I am not playing in the game and it is between the lines like it's supposed to be. Ever since I have been in this rivalry that has been great intensity, and that's what we expect."

(On improving team mistakes) "That's a tough one sometimes. If you have a young football team, you work really hard on the fundamentals in practice. If you are a more mature football team, and we are, it can really frustrate you as a coach. That's why you coach; you drill it and emphasize it. It drives you nuts."


(On facing Tennessee) "We obviously have a huge week of preparation. We are relatively healthy. They are a little bit ahead of us coming off an off week."

(On preparing for two quarterbacks) "It's something you definitely want to take note of. You like to see what they like to do and what their strengths and weaknesses are. It requires a bit more work."

(On BCS system) "Being new in college football, I think there is some movement and people intrigued by that plus one game. There is a lot of talk that everyone wants a clear number one. Amongst our coaches, we vote that this is the best we can possibly get without the playoff. I don't know as much as others do, but our focus is on this week."


(On facing Auburn) "I think we've had a spirited week of practice thus far. I think everyone is looking forward to the match up. I think we are preparing very well."

(On Auburn's team) "I think in all phases they are well coached. It is obvious that they are getting better. They have a solid concept of offense. They have a very capable quarterback and are physical up front. They can play man and zone and mix coverage. This is a very quality football team."

(On controlling turnovers) "We are addressing it on a regular basis, and it is a concern of ours. There were two simple fumbles that should never occur. We had an interception that was a poor thrown football. We have to eliminate those things. We can't have success against good football teams if you turn the ball over."


(On facing LSU) "We started team preparations for LSU. We had a good practice. We have got most players available. Kenny Irons will be our starting running back. We have practiced physical. We have got our hands full with a very good team and we are looking forward to the challenge."

(On special teams) "The one thing that we try to do, is that we implement any player on our special teams. Again, you have to make it fun for your guys. We worked on it at least 30 minutes a day during spring practice. We study other people in the spring and we go to pro teams to talk about special teams. On Sundays, I make every player watch special teams, even if they aren't on it. We try to make it as important as possible."

(On Kenny Irons) "Kenny has been in this league for awhile. Kenny is a very tough and physical player. He loves contact. He has slimmed down and gotten faster and quicker. He has great peripheral vision and he is getting better. He has a lot of potential and a lot of room for improvement."


(On facing LSU) "We had a very tough loss at LSU against a talented team. We didn't play very well on offense. We have a needed by week, we have some guys banged out."

(On Jeremy Mincey) "Mincey is a captain and it is an earned position here. He comes from a tough background and came through a lot. Our coaches and players have a great respect for Mincey."

(On Chris Leak) "I think Chris Leak has competed his rear end off. I don't think we as a staff gave him adequate protection for him to be successful. I am not disappointed in Chris Leak; I am more disappointed by the preparation of our coaching staff."


(On facing Vanderbilt) "We are looking forward to playing Vandy at home. We have very few injuries and hopefully we will play our best one so far. Overall, Vandy has there best team that I have seen since 1990. They can play offense and defense and Bobby Johnson has done an excellent job."

(On Syvelle Newton) "Again we don't want to give away our gameplan, but Syvelle is slated to play some wide receiver, quarterback and running back. We have to get him the ball somehow. He has shown the ability to run with it."

(On controlling turnovers and penalties) "Of course, we used to lead the conference in penalties when I was at Florida. I had to come out and criticize the refs because I felt that they were going too hard at us. Usually when I went out and said that, things would calm down after that. We tried to overcome those things, as far as turnovers. You have to coach and you have to emphasize it."


(On facing Arkansas) "I think the biggest thing that we have concerns about is trying to stop the running game they have at Arkansas. We have had some success stopping the run this year, so we have to find some guys who will step up and play good. That's our main concern right now."

(On BCS) "I really and truly do not worry about it one bit. I really don't. I am so busy as it is, we are just trying to win games. I hope we play good enough that I can be mad at the end of the year."

(On Arkansas having two quarterbacks) "I think it does in this case. Sometimes you have two quarterbacks that are a like so it doesn't make too much of a difference. If it is Alex Mortenson, he hasn't played a lot and there isn't much to see. It makes it a little bit more difficult."


(On facing Houston) "We are coming off an open week getting ready for Houston. We are very fortunate. We are facing a very explosive Houston team, especially their offense. We have to improve offensively to have a chance to win this ballgame."

(On Bryson Davis) "He's a fullback in our system. A fullback in our system is very important if we are to be successful. He is also an important special teams player. He is a very unselfish player who has improved tremendously over the past year and a half."


(On facing South Carolina) "We are as usual going through our practice routine. About this time of the year we are getting nicked up a bit. That's to be expected and we are trying to get our best team on the field to go out there and play."

(On the schedule) "What we try to do is go one at a time. We look down the schedule and say we have four opportunities to win and we want to win them all. We are trying to focus on the task at hand."


(On facing Georgia) "We had a good day yesterday in preparation for Georgia. They are a great team on both sides of the ball."

(On confidence after USC loss) "We got back at 7:15 am. It was a very tough game and we met later on that day and from that point on we have been extremely positive. We convinced our guys that we will always play hard and that we were back in conference play."


(On facing Kentucky) "We are excited to be playing at home again. We feel like we played really well at times against Alabama and we are pleased with the progress with our team."

(On Ethan Flatt) "We just felt that we have one of our better players on the sideline. We hope he can do a good job for us. He is a lot more involved and I am happy before him because he is a good kid."

(On playing well last week) "It was really important that we play well and take another step for our program. We are practicing hard this week just like we did for Alabama or any team that we play."


(On facing Ole Miss) "We are just looking to get our first SEC win after a bye and we hope that we can be a competitive to the 4th quarter."

(On job security rumors) "I would hope not. The reason I wanted to address it was because rumors can get rampant and I wanted them to understand that I wasn't going anywhere on my own. I want them to line up with me and go out and try to play 60 minutes of football. We need to finish that job and we do have a future here if we are allowed to go forward."

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