Wednesday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE - The Vols practiced indoors again on Wednesday afternoon to avoid the bad weather. The team worked out in shorts and shoulder pads inside the newly expanded Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex. Despite a tremendous week of practice so far, the injury situation continues to be a hot button issue, especially across the offensive line.

Head Coach Phillip Fulmer addressed the topic concerning several key players.

"We have had three outstanding days of preparation," Fulmer said. "It looks like Michael (Munoz) is going to be okay which is a real plus. Cody (Douglas) is as good as he's been. Arron (Sears) is moving around as good as he's moved around."

"Richie Gandy‚s given us a big lift to help us," Fulmer said. "Richie has played well enough to be a starter. Chuck Prugh is going to get his opportunity. I'm hoping Jason (Respert) will be available but I don't know if he's going to be."

"Albert Toeaina had his best practice since he's been at Tennessee yesterday," Fulmer said. "I think Albert's improved enough to be considered a starter."

At the quarterback position, Rick Clausen has done the things he's needed to do in order to be considered a viable back-up option.

"Rick threw the ball really well on Monday and has for the rest of the week," Fulmer said. "He has some real attributes that are positive for this team. The best thing that he's done is that he's stayed focused and into it. He prepared himself at third team. Now he's second team and one snap away from being first team."

Defensively, the Vols came undone in the fourth quarter against South Carolina. However, Fulmer put a positive spin on how that showing could impact the team's next game and maybe more.

"I told the guys in '97 we had kind of the same thing happen to us," Fulmer said. "We didn't finish a game very well and we learned from it. We won the conference championship that year. The lesson stayed with the team the next year." The next year was 1998. Tennessee won its second consecutive SEC Championship. A month later they won the National Championship.

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