Thursday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee football team went through its typical Thursday dress rehearsal at Haslam Field. Throughout the week, there have been two constant themes, stopping the run on defense and executing on special teams.

"First and foremost, defensively we need to be in a position to stop the running game," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Nobody else has done that. We're hopeful to slow them (Alabama) down and not give up anything big."

"This will be a big weekend for the kicking game. There'll be a play or two made in the kicking game as there usually is that makes a difference." Derrick Tinsley, Jon Hefney, and Brent Schaeffer are all possibilities. However, Schaeffer's presence on special teams still seems like a long shot.

"Derrick is going to return punts first," Fulmer said. "Jon will get a chance. I'm trying to work like heck to get Schaeffer in there at some point."

On the injury front, Jesse Mahelona and Cody Douglas were both limited in practice on Thursday. Whether or not they play on Saturday remains up in the air.

"Jesse and Cody are still listed as questionable and we'll see what they can do," Fulmer said. "They both think they can play. That's what a college football player is supposed to say. We will not put them in if we think it's going to do any further damage. They worked out today, but they're questionable. We've got to be prepared to play without them. If we get them back, that would be a plus."

As for the quarterback saga, Fulmer mentioned Brent Schaeffer can't get discouraged over his lack of playing time.

"Brent's got to force himself to stay focused and not have a pity party for himself," Fulmer said. "I want every player on the team to have success. Erik (Ainge) has had more opportunities and has taken advantage of them. Therefore, he's pulled himself away. Personalities and ego's aren't my concern. My concern is winning a championship."

Finally, Fulmer left no doubt as to just how important this game is. "To me it's the best game in southern football, Tennessee and Alabama."

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