Thursday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee wrapped up a week's worth of work on Thursday afternoon. With the open date, the Vols will have Friday off. For the players, it's a time to rest up and in some cases visit with family. For the coaches, it's a time to hit the recruiting trail.

Head Coach Phillip Fulmer liked the attitude his team had during the short week. He has been especially pleased with quarterbacks Rick Clausen and C.J. Leak. The experience they bring to the table, along with their focus is an invaluable asset according to the head coach.

"Most of the time you'd be down to a freshman, or a guy that hadn't had any reps," Fulmer said. "He (Rick) was legitimately in the hunt for the starting position in spring and in two-a-days. I could say the same thing about C.J. And as unselfish as they've been to this point, and then to get an opportunity, I hope they do great. I really do, for our team and for them, because they deserve it."

"Rick's done a fine job,"Fulmer said. "We're very fortunate to have a guy in the program as smart as he is. He's a very good competitor, and he really knows our offense. He's got a lot things that normally when you get to a third-team quarterback, you don't have."

Three young linemen caught Fulmer's eye across the offensive front, too.

"A couple of those young offensive linemen (were impressive)," Fulmer said. "Eric Young, Ramon Foster and David Ligon all I thought had real good scrimmages. The difference, though, being that it was against a base defense and they sat there, and all the blitzes and things that they have to solve as an offensive lineman, they didn't see, but they're getting better."

In the secondary, Fulmer doesn't think Antwan Stewart will be ready to play by next week. However, Stewart may not be needed as much you might think.

Robert Boulware did enough in the Notre Dame game to lock down the starting job at free safety for the second consecutive week. In Fulmer's opinion, it's Boulware's consistency that has separated him from the rest of the pack.

"I think he had to make his mind up," Fulmer said. "I think the special teams play that he has gotten has built more and more confidence in him, and he just needed an opportunity. He was in the middle of the thing at two-a-days, then Brandon (Johnson) won it. We finally maybe found the right guy. He played well in the game."

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