Thursday Practice Report

He won't play ... won't suit up ... probably won't be on the Vol sidelines. But backup center Chuck Prugh could be a contributing factor in Tennessee's homecoming game with Duke this Saturday.

Prugh returned to practice Thursday for the first time since entering the intensive care unit at UT Medical Center with a combination of illnesses (Mononucleosis and Pneumonia) that kept him bedridden and struggling for survival the past several weeks.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said Prugh's return to the practice field -- even as an observer -- provided quite a boost for the Vols.

''Today we got a really big lift with Chuck Prugh coming back out and coming into the team meeting,'' the head man said. ''That made it really special to see him, after everybody's thoughts and prayers. His mom and dad thanked the team and the staff, and that was a really emotional time for us.''

Although he was healthy enough to hold a Thursday afternoon news conference, Prugh is unlikely to be on the sidelines Saturday.

''I don't think he's up to that, medically,'' Fulmer said. ''It's up to him and the doctors -- he's certainly welcome -- but I don't think that will happen.''

Fulmer thinks the carryover from last weekend's five-overtime defeat of Alabama will give UT an added burst of adrenalin this weekend against Duke.

''We've had a really, really good week of preparation,'' he said. ''A lot of energy coming out of the Alabama game certainly made this a special week. The preparation has been very good. I feel like that will carry over into the football game.''

Tennessee played perhaps its best football of the year in the five overtimes vs. Bama, scoring four touchdowns and a field goal. The offensive execution was excellent. Could all of that really carry over into this weekend?

''I'm hopeful we can,'' Fulmer said. ''We've practiced that way this week. I think Duke has our team's complete respect. I'm hopeful we can come out and execute the way we did in the latter stages of the Alabama game and in the overtimes.

''This team, as I've said many times, has shown flashes of being really good. It's also been a great week because we're finally seeing our defensive line getting better. And in the offensive line we have a chance to be successful week in and week out.

''I'm encouraged about where we are and very hopeful that that enthusiasm does carry over.''


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