Fulmer: No distractions

Tennessee's football team will not be distracted this weekend. That's the word from Vol head man Phillip Fulmer.

Speaking at his weekly news conference, Fulmer shrugged off suggestions that the recent suspension of starting strong safety Brandon Johnson -- reportedly for firing a handgun into the air in the wee hours of Monday morning -- will adversely affect preparations for this weekend's game with visiting Alabama.

''We had an incident Sunday night that we will not be distracted by,'' the Vol coach said. ''Irresponsible behavior, although there was no malicious intent in it, will not be acceptable. I'd much prefer to talk about the other 100 players on this team and the good things they're getting done.''

Fulmer also had little to say about speculation that Bama players are more focused against Tennessee these days because they blame UT for the Tide's recent NCAA penalties.

''I don't know how it could be any more intense than it always has been,'' he said.

With Johnson sidelined, sophomore Jarod Parrish steps into the starting role. Parrish has played sparingly but is expected to be a competent fill-in.

"Sometimes it's just the matter of an opportunity, and now he's got that opportunity,'' defensive coordinator John Chavis said. ''He's been practicing great. We moved him into our dime package last week. He's physical enough to play the running game, and we need for him to step up.''

Parrish will be backed by Cory Campbell. who started three games in 2003 and two of the first four in 2004. Converted cornerback Robert Boulware is also in the strongt safety picture.

''Cory's obviously played,'' Fulmer said. ''He started in this (Bama) game last year. We'll be fine.''

Cory Larkins, recently switched from tailback to strong safety, is not yet ready to help.

''He's made some progress but he's not ready to go out there and make the adjustments he needs to -- particularly in a game like this, with the multitude of formations and motions we'll see,'' Chavis said. ''You've got to have somebody back there who understands the adjustments.

''That's the thing Parrish gives us. He's been there for two years. He hasn't played a lot but he understands what we're trying to do. He's a good tackler, and he's got a great opportunity. We're going to expect him to rise to the occasion.''


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