Tuesday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE -Tennessee hit the practice field for the first time on Tuesday afternoon following Sunday's 42-17 win over UNLV. The rain forced UT inside, but the weather couldn't damage head coach Phillip Fulmer's spirit heading into the off week.

However, with the open date, Fulmer and the rest of the staff will head back to the drawing board in search of a formidable secondary.

Jason Allen moved from cornerback to free safety. Jon Wade and Jon Hefney went from back-ups at the cornerback position to number-one's. Brandon Johnson was the only starter who didn't see a change in status. He is still working with the starters at strong safety.

Corey Campbell, Robert Boulware, Roshaun Fellows, and Antonio Gaines were the second team defensive backs.

"We'll get the best athletes on the field we can get back there," Fulmer said. "I liked the way Corey Campbell came back out here today. Jonathan Hefney's got a chance to start. Jason Allen went back there at safety and worked like heck. Jon Wade needs to learn to be consistent about his work habits. I'm excited about their attitude to get better."

In addition to cracking the starting line-up on defense, Fulmer said Hefney is also the leading candidate to return punts against Florida.

The secondary welcomed C.J. Leak back to the defensive side of the football, too. Leak started the year at quarterback and moved to safety following the ascension of Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge. He practiced there briefly before moving to tight end. His stay at tight end appears to be over after Tuesday's practice. Leak is working at safety again in an attempt to get on the field quicker.

Ainge and Schaeffer impressed during Sunday's game and stayed after practice to work with another one of their classmates, Arian Foster. Although neither quarterback separated himself from the other, Fulmer isn't worried about a front-runner emerging quite yet.

"I'm not concerned with anything except who will help us win," Fulmer said. "All I'm worried about is the next game. Right now, tomorrow's practice is the most important thing. I think the dynamics of what they have is pretty special. If I was a defensive coordinator, I'd be concerned about having to prepare for two different things and not knowing."

Fulmer isn't letting the media scrutiny get to his signal callers, either. Schaeffer and Ainge are still off limits to the media.

"They're not available, period, unless after the game we decide they're available," Fulmer said. "That's the way we're going to do it."

Fulmer discussed the vast improvement of the offensive line, as well. Fulmer sees more than just the linemen as the reason for the supremacy they showed across the line scrimmage.

"The mobility of the quarterbacks, both of them, and ability of the receivers will keep us from having to block eight or nine people," Fulmer said. "We're more physical at guard than we have been." As for several unsportsmanlike conduct calls against the Vols, Fulmer weighed in on how he thought his team should celebrate.

"You should hand the ball to the official and go hug on your teammates and hug on your coach," Fulmer said. "Most rules come out of abuse and that's what's happened here. In the NFL, all that stuff was going on with signing (footballs), phone calls, and all the crazy choreographed stuff. It was filtering down to college football. That's not what people want to see."

In other news, freshman Anthony Parker has moved from the defensive line to the offensive line. A red-shirt year for Parker looks probable.

On the injury front, Fulmer said he hopes to have Cedric Houston back by next Monday. Houston sprained his ankle in the third quarter versus UNLV. Robert Meachem didn't practice on Tuesday because he had a wisdom tooth removed.

The team practices Wednesday and Thursday of this week before taking Friday off which is customary during an open date.


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