Orange Area woes

Tennessee's offense did a nice job moving into scoring position in Saturday's season opener against Alabama-Birmingham. The Vols just didn't do much when they got there. That's one reason the score (17-10) was much closer than it could've been.

Phillip Fulmer addressed the issue during his Sunday news conference.

"Generally, offensively we played darned well at times," he said. "Execution is the thing we need to improve on. Our production in the Orange Area was not nearly what we would like for it to have been. That could've made a big difference in the game."

Indeed.

Tennessee moved to UAB's 29-yard line on its opening possession but tight end Justin Reed couldn't pull in a third-and-four pass from Erik Ainge, and the Vols settled for a 46-yard James Wilhoit field goal.

The Vols scored a touchdown on possession No. 2 and marched to the UAB 30-yard line on possession No. 4. On third-and-five, Tennessee had a screen set up but Rick Clausen's throw was high, forcing fullback David Holbert to leap. This cost Holbert a step and threw off the play's timing. As a result, the pass gained just one yard. Wilhoit then missed a 47-yard field goal try.

Tennessee scored its final touchdown just before halftime, then found the Orange Area truly troublesome thereafter.

The Vols drove to UAB's 31-yard line on their first possession of the second half but tight end Chris Brown dropped a pass on third-and-five, then pressure caused Clausen to misfire on a backhanded pass to Holbert on fourth-and-five.

Tennessee marched to the Blazer 14-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter but Clausen threw a little high for fullback Cory Anderson, who tipped the ball twice before it was intercepted by UAB's Kevin Sanders.

The Vols moved into the Orange Area again in the final minute – reaching the UAB 16-yard line – but Fulmer elected to run out the clock by calling two kneel plays.

For those keeping score at home: Tennessee advanced inside the UAB 35-yard line seven times but came away with just two touchdowns and a field goal.


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