Have the 'little things' slipped?

Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday that it's time to put last weekend's five-overtime win at Alabama in the rearview mirror and focus on this weekend's homecoming game with visiting Duke.

''We need to move on,'' Fulmer said. ''This time of year we must continue to improve. If you're not careful, little things will start slipping. We're not a team that does those things well enough all the time that we can let anything slip.''

He got that right. Some of the ''little things'' already are slipping.

For instance, Tennessee's discipline leaves a bit to be desired. The Vols rank 10th among the 12 Southeastern Conference in penalty yardage, incurring 69.1 yards per game.

Tennessee's ball security hasn't exactly been first-rate, either. The Vols rank 10th in turnover margin, surrendering seven more than they've caused.

Special teams has a few shortcomings, as well. UT ranks 10th in kickoff coverage, allowing 22.9 yards per return.

Tackling has been an ongoing problem, as evidenced by the fact the Vols are ninth in rushing defense (allowing 155 yards per game).

Finally, thanks to the penalties and missed assignments, Tennessee ranks dead last among SEC teams in first downs (136).

In hopes of shoring up some of the Vols' weaknesses, Fulmer said he and his staff are making ''extra special efforts toward the fundamentals and the things that are going to help us get better.''


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