Vols get rest, then test

After sending his troops through a two-hour workout at Haslam Field Thursday morning, Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer gave Tennessee's players a three-day weekend to rest up before opening preparations for their Oct. 25 game at Alabama.

''I think the open date was productive for us,'' Fulmer said. ''This morning was one of our better practices, as far as energy.... We've got to start on Alabama. Hopefully, we're ready to take that next step and be a more consistent football team. There's been flashes of good things as we've gone through the season. Early, I thought we were on a real good track. Obviously, the last couple of weeks we've been disappointed. Hopefully, we're on track right now to be a more consistent football team.''

The head man reiterated what he said after the Vols suffered their second consecutive defeat, a 41-14 loss to Georgia last weekend.

''When you've been through what they've been through, you've got two choices: Cry over spilled milk or try to get better,'' he said. ''I think this team has worked to try and get better this week.''

Fulmer said he gave simple instructions to the players before dismissing them for the rest of the week: ''Don't play pickup basketball, don't go home and do something crazy with your high school buddies, try to get a little bit of a workout in while you're there and be back Sunday night ready to go with Alabama on your mind.''

The head man said his team is very well conditioned but conceded that the players' legs should be fresher when they return to practice Monday after a three-day hiatus.

''Should be,'' he said. ''This is a well-conditioned team but this game, Duke and Miami could be in the heat, so we've extended the conditioning a little bit. I hope their legs are fresh on Monday and they're ready to go.''

Tennessee wilted in the second half last Saturday vs. Georgia but Fulmer says that was no reflection on the conditioning of the squad.

''I don't have any problem with our conditioning at all,'' he said. ''We played too many plays on defense in a couple of ballgames but we've had people to get us through.''

Freshman receiver Bret Smith underwent surgery on his thumb this morning and will be sidelined approximately four weeks. Fulmer said that backup center Chuck Prugh continues to make progress as he recovers from a life-threatening bout with mononucleosis and pneumonia.

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