Tuesday Practice Report

A chance to get on the practice field on Tuesday afternoon had Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer counting his blessings. Although the team is coming off a 17-13 defeat to Notre Dame and hurting from the loss of its second quarterback in two weeks, Fulmer seems to think he has found some sort of silver lining.

"We are very fortunate to have the same goals before the loss last week," Fulmer said. "That's to win the SEC. We're also fortunate to have two upperclassmen like Rick Clausen and C.J. Leak who have put this program first all year long." "A lot of times when you get to the third string quarterback it‚s a younger person who doesn‚t have any experience. In this case we've got two guys that have played."

"We've got to rally around Rick and C.J.," Fulmer said. "The thing you try to avoid is the mistake or two or three in the game that can beat you. Sometimes it's the plays you don't make that are most important."

Offensively, the Vols are hurting up front. Offensive lineman Arron Sears, Jason Respert, Chuck Prugh, and Cody Douglas are all injured in some sort of way. Michael Munoz, another offensive lineman didn't practice because of class.

Each of those key players will have to get better soon. Fulmer indicated the team's lack of ability in short yardage situations has become a problem.

"Sometimes it's a running back," Fulmer said. "Sometimes it‚s a lineman. The defense is on scholarship, too. It‚s an area we‚re addressing and working to be better at." "You‚ve got to be on the same page all the time," Fulmer said. "You've got to have eleven guys on offense playing together. Defensively, sometimes you can get one blocked and someone makes a great effort and it doesn't show up. On offense it's going to show up. It's very frustrating. It wasn‚t an effort thing. We‚re trying to get over that hump."

Defensively, Fulmer thinks Jesse Mahelona has provided as much impact as any junior college transfer during his tenure.

"Jesse draws attention all the time," Fulmer said. "He's made a real difference on the practice field with his energy and attitude. In my time here he's probably the biggest impact guy."

In other injury news, free safety Jason Allen didn't practice due to an ankle sprain. Fulmer said Allen would be fine

Finally, Antwan Stewart got some team reps in with the first unit at strong safety. Stewart thinks he could see action as early as next week's Vanderbilt game. He is coming off of an ACL tear in spring drills.

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