Where are the fumbles?

Linebacker Al Wilson forced three fumbles in the 1998 Tennessee-Florida game ... which is two more than the entire Vol defense has forced in FOUR GAMES this fall.

Incredibly, with the 2003 season one-third finished, the Big Orange has recovered just one opposing fumble. Moreover, the Vols have forced a mere four fumbles -- one per game.

What gives?

''We work on that ... techniques to strip the ball and that sort of thing,'' defensive coordinator John Chavis says. ''People are just doing a good job of keeping the ball away from us. There's not any one thing you can point to and say, 'This is the reason we're not getting more' other than people are not fumbling. One or two opportunities is all we've had.''

Asked what the Vols can do to try and create more fumbles, Chavis responded: ''You want to be more physical; that's one of the things that's going to help you get the ball on the ground. We've GOT to be more physical. And we've got to be in posiiton to make great tackles.

''We've worked hard but the fruits aren't there yet, in terms of being in great position. You've got to be in great position to make the kind of hits that are going to separate the ballcarrier from the ball. We're just a step off right now.''

Linebacker Kevin Burnett concedes that the Vols will need to force some fumbles this Saturday night if they are to stop Auburn's ground-hugging offense.

''We definitely have to create some turnovers, get Auburn backed up and force them to throw the football,'' he says. ''If you force them to throw the football, it becomes a one-sided game.''

Asked to explain Tennessee's lack of fumble recoveries, Burnett replied: ''I think it's more a mindset. You want to get the ball out. We have to create that mindstet within our defense. We have to get more turnovers because, somewhere down the road, that's going to win us a ballgame.''

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