Thursday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee's football team practiced in some semi-frigid conditions on Thursday afternoon. The Vols are battered and bruised, but prepared for a tough Notre Dame team. Head Coach Phillip Fulmer thinks the squad has prepared well this week.

One of the main concerns heading into the week was the collective health of the offensive line. Michael Munoz has been battling a concussion. Cody Douglas has pushed through a mid-foot sprain. Jason Respert has a sprained ankle. Arron Sears has been ailing a bit, too.

"It looks like Michael's going to be okay," Fulmer said. "Cody's going to be able to play some. Arron's not 100-percent but he's better. Jason, we'll still have to wait and see."

As for Sears, Fulmer paid the sophomore some high praise following practice.

"Arron was born to be an offensive lineman," Fulmer said. "He's got the great intensity it takes to play the position. He's prideful of doing things well. He's gifted with his size and strength. He was coached well before he got here. He's been coached well since he's been here. He has a dominating personality. He wants to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. You put all those things together and you've got a real good lineman."

Sears, along with the other linemen will have to put their best foot forward against a stingy Irish defense.

"This will be our biggest challenge versus their defensive front," Fulmer said. "They're giving up less than 100 yards per game. We've got to have some help come from some other places. Our passing game and defensively, we have to play well."

As for the Vols defense, there's been another shake-up at strong safety. Robert Boulware will be the fourth different starter at that position in four games.

"Robert's going to start at strong safety," Fulmer said. "We're still trying to fix a problem. We're to the point now, we've improved enough to play a lot of other people along the way."

Playing in the secondary could be quite a challenge with Brady Quinn taking some shots downfield.

"The more you watch Brady Quinn, the more you're impressed with him," Fulmer said.

The Vols quarterback situation isn't exactly in limbo, but Bo Hardegree finds himself behind Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen in the rotation. Fulmer joked about where he'd be watching the game if Ainge and Clausen weren't able to play.

"If we get to third team quarterback, I'm going to come up there and sit with ya'll," Fulmer said.

Tennessee has a walk through scheduled for Friday afternoon in Neyland Stadium.


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