Fulmer reviews scrimmage

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said Monday morning that his opinions on Saturday's full-scale scrimmage mellowed a bit after he reviewed the films. Basically, the offense wasn't quite as strong as it appeared, and the defense wasn't quite as weak as it appeared.

''It's never as good as you think it is and it's never as bad as you think it is,'' Fulmer quipped. ''There were some concerns but they weren't as bad once you watched the film. There were some big plays given up ... but we did pretty good against the run, and I was concerned about that.

''Offensively, although it looked like we did a lot of good things, there's a lot of improvement that could be made.''

Quarterback Casey Clausen, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns during the scrimmage, seemed encouraged.

''I thought it went pretty well,'' he said. ''We made some plays on the outside (at wide receiver), and that was a good thing to see. Obviously, there are some things we didn't do very well but, overall, I thought it was a pretty good day.''

The star of the scrimmage was James Banks, a quarterback/receiver who caught all three of Clausen's TD tosses. World-class sprinter Jonathan Wade also had a big day, turning a simple hitch from Banks into an 80-yard touchdown play. The presence of this big-play dimension, seriously lacking last fall, was encouraging.

''It was,'' Clausen said. ''Obviously, that's something our emphasis is on this season. It doesn't means guys have arrived yet or we've arrived as an offense -- it's only a scrimmage -- but for the first time simulating a game, it was a good sign.''

Clausen endured an injury-plagued 2002 season but says he's in peak health as the 2003 kickoff approaches. He also has bulked up to 227 pounds.

''I'm more physical, bigger and stronger than I was,'' he said. ''My health is 100 percent. I feel good and I'm ready to play.''

Based on Saturday's scrimmage, the entire Vol offense is ready to play. Clausen conceded that the attack unit is coming along nicely.

''As far as the terminology and guys understanding what they're doing and feeling comfortable, we're is quite a bit different than last year,'' he said. ''Right now, we're way further along than we were at any time last season. Guys are maturing and growing, and the offense has gotten better.''


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