Fresno has a Carl Pickens clone

After watching film of Bernard Berrian, Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer admits that Fresno State's standout wide receiver reminds him of a former Vol pass-catching whiz.

''He's like a (Carl) Pickens -- a big, fine athlete that can run and catch everything,'' Fulmer said. ''He's a good player ... a REALLY good player.''

Making Berrian all the more effective is the fact foes can't focus on him. Fresno has too many other weapons.

''Then you've got (Marque) Davis and those other guys who are really good players,'' Fulmer noted.

Berrian was a preseason All-America pick in 2002 but was hurt in the opener and didn't play again all season. With him sidelined, Davis became Fresno's go-to receiver, earning All-WAC honors by catching 64 passes for 956 yards. To put that in perspective, consider that UT's leading receiver of 2002, Jason Witten, caught 39 passes for just 493 yards.

In addition to Berrian and Davis, Fresno's receiving corps returns Jeremaine Jamison (39 catches for 639 yards in 2002), Adam Jennings (34 catches for 310 yards), DeAndre Gilbert (32 catches for 470 yards) and tight end Duncan Reid (25 catches for 321 yards).

''They can spread the field and make it tough on you,'' Fulmer said.

Opponents who set their defense to stop the Bulldogs' potent passing attack leave themselves vulnerable to running back Rodney Davis, who rushed for 1,586 yards last fall. Fulmer calls him ''a really good back.''

Given the offensive capabilities Fresno State boasts, it isn't surprising that several football analysts (including cbssportsline and one Atlanta Journal/Constitution columnist) are picking the Bulldogs to upset the Vols in Saturday's season opener at Neyland Stadium. Fulmer shrugged when asked for comment.

''I don't know that anybody pays much attention to those preseason (predictions),'' the Vol coach said. ''But anytime you get an ounce of motivation you should use it. I think it shows there's a lot of respect out there for Fresno.''

Asked if being tabbed an underdog in some circles could improve the Vols' focus, Fulmer replied: ''I think they understand. I think they fully understand that they're in for a strong battle.''

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