Sunday practice report

A rare Sunday practice on a rare cool and rainy August afternoon wrapped up Tennessee's first week of football at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols added shoulder pads to their practice attire and staged another 2 1/2-hour session under the watchful eye of head coach Phillip Fulmer.

"The kids caught a real break with the weather," Fulmer said. "But I thought the energy again was good. We got a lot of work done in team situations, which certainly will make everybody better on both sides.

"Defensively and offensively, we're just going really fast with what we're putting in. We've always said we'll do the whole before the parts and there will be some real freshman head-spinning in the next two or three days. We'll get more out there than what they can handle but then we'll come back and teach them and go from there."

Fulmer talked about the early competition for Tennessee's starting center position between senior Richie Gandy and junior David Ligon.

"Somebody's still got to come out and prove they can be a starting 0center," Fulmer said. "Richie, I'm really happy with where he is as far as his physical health. I had no idea he would be doing this much work from what the doctors said. And David is still working on the finer things of being a center.

"At least Richie's been around longer and understands things better. David both physically and some mentally is working to catch up. I could see the progress coming along with both of them. They are both good athletes and they stayed and stuck it out."

Gandy appeared in 11 games last season, with five starts providing the Darlington, S.C., native's first significant playing time. Ligon, a Germantown product, played in nine games and contributed key minutes in reserve roles against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

"This is big for both of them and they are taking it very seriously," Fulmer said. "Even though they are friends, they are fighting every day for playing time."

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator and Mississippi head coach David Cutcliffe visited Sunday's soggy practice. Cutcliffe was with the Vols from 1982-98, the final six years as offensive play-caller. He then produced a 44-29 ledger at Ole Miss from 1999-2004 before being fired in December.

"It's good to get him on the practice field," Fulmer said, adding with a laugh that Cutcliffe told him he recognized a lot of the play calls. "That was a little disconcerting, but he's welcome any time."

Cutcliffe underwent heart bypass surgery in March and briefly accepted the position as quarterback coach at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis before resigning in June, citing health concerns. He and his family have relocated to the Knoxville area and Cutcliffe's son, Chris, is working as a Vols student manager.

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