Wakeup call for UT?

Tennessee was largely unimpressive in its 17-10 Game 1 defeat of Alabama-Birmingham last Saturday, but head coach Phillip Fulmer believes the Vols may benefit from the sloppy outing.

Sometimes an unexpectedly close win serves as a wakeup call and helps a team realize it must play harder and better in order to reach its potential. Perhaps that will happen in this instance.

"It could be exactly what we needed," Fulmer said after watching his team – a 23-point favorite – struggle mightily just to win the game. "We had to play hard for four quarters."

It appeared the Vols took their preseason No. 3 ranking a little too seriously and didn't take the unranked Blazers quite seriously enough. That combination almost proved disastrous but Fulmer suspects his team may have learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

"It should be humbling," he said. "It could be just what the doctor ordered."

While the Vols escaped with a scare, several other ranked teams were not so fortunate. No. 7 Oklahoma was shocked by Texas Christian, Auburn fell to Georgia Tech and Texas A&M was upset by Clemson.

Given these Week 1 upsets, Fulmer was happy to escape with a win, ugly as it might have been.

"We've got that one behind us," he coach said. "This open date should be great for us … give us time to improve."

The Vols visit Florida Sept. 17 in Gainesville. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. with television coverage provided by CBS.

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