Wednesday Practice Report

The Tennessee football team received a much-needed rest following Tuesday's scrimmage. The Vols practiced‚ indoors in shorts and jerseys for a little less than an hour. For the most part, Wednesday was a day for healing wounds and looking ahead to game week

"Today was about letting us get our legs back," Fulmer said. "We've only had one day off since we started. We're allowed 29 opportunities and we'll end up with 27 which is still more than we've ever used in the two-a-day period."

Fulmer also indicated the team began preparing for UNLV. The Runnin‚ Rebels come to Knoxville for the Vols home opener on September 5th.

As for Tuesday's scrimmage, Fulmer reassured the media he saw some things he liked and disliked from his freshman quarterbacks, Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge.

"There were some freshman things that happened yesterday," Fulmer said. "They've got to take better care of the ball, period. That includes using the ability to fake and pull the defense out of position.‰

On the positive side of things, Fulmer continues to be impressed with the saavy of the two.

"They don't get shaken," Fulmer said. "I told them a couple scrimmages ago, "We don't want to be dirt kickers.‚ We want guys with poise and confidence and I think they've done very well from that standpoint. Somebody's band is going to play. I just hope it's ours."

From an offensive alignment, Fulmer spoke to some of the advantages and disadvantages of running a spread offense to alleviate some of the pressure that could be put on either freshman.

"It creates some opportunities, but it also creates some problems," Fulmer said. "They've got to do a good job of understanding blitz reads and protections. As I've said, those kids come from passing offenses and have different skills about beating the blitz."

The running backs continue to be embroiled in a hotly contested battle for the starting job. With just a few days to go until game week, a clear-cut starter still hasn‚t been named.

"They've all been very consistent," Fulmer said of Gerald Riggs, Corey Larkins, Cedric Houston, Jabari Davis, and David Yancey.

"Trooper's done a tremendous job with our pass protections along with coach Atkins. They've all played. They're all mature. I'm comfortable with them for the most part. I'd like to see somebody get 2000 yards."

A couple of the players who will be blocking for the backs garnered high praise from Fulmer, too.

"Albert Toeaina had a great scrimmage for what we asked him to do," Fulmer said. "He really took a step forward."

"Jason (Respert) has had a great camp," Fulmer said. "He's playing fast. He's playing hard. You talk about a guy that is showing a quiet confidence. He's doing it with his play. If he has a great year, he's got a chance to play on Sunday."

On the special teams front, Fulmer addressed who his top punt returners would be.

"A number of guys are in the mix," Fulmer said of Jon Hefney, Jon Wade, Robert Meacham, Jayson Swain, Corey Larkins, and Derrick Tinsley. "Any of them could do a good job. You just want the guy to be reliable and when the play‚s over you've got the ball. That's the biggest thing." Finally, middle linebacker Marvin Mitchell underwent successful surgery to his knee and will be out for six months. His absence has created a spot that needs to be filled in the middle of the defense. Fulmer feels confident with his starter, Kevin Simon and Jon Poe, as a back-up. He also said Omar Gaither could play there if the need should arise. James Turner and Jerod Mayo were coming along nicely, too.


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