Why the finishing fade?

Tennessee's defense went from awesome to awful in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's game with South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Here's the breakdown:

Through three quarters, UT allowed just 8 points. In the fourth, the Vols allowed 21.

Through three quarters, UT allowed just 74 passing yards. In the fourth, the Vols allowed 267.

Through three quarters, UT allowed just 274 total yards. In the fourth, the Vols allowed 293.

''That fourth quarter was not very pretty,'' Vol head man Phillip Fulmer conceded. ''But that was another experience this young team will learn from.

''We were trying to play zone (pass coverage), not give up anything big. With all of those opportunities, you'd think you'd tip a ball, bat a ball, get a sack or something. But we didn't.''

Basically, Tennessee's defense played so ridiculously soft in the final quarter that Carolina's Dondrial Pinkins was able to pick the Vols apart, moving his team down the field with alarming ease as UT defensive backs offered only token resistance.

That same sort of effort Saturday against Notre Dame could get the Vols beat. No one knows that better than Fulmer.

''You learn from those things,'' he said. ''We had that same conversation Monday that we had (immediately after the game), and I think we got the point across. From that experience, I think we should be better.''


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