Fulmer on Florida

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer understands the importance of Saturday's crucial SEC game at No. 6 Florida between East Division rivals.

``This game has meant a great amount to the team that wins it,'' Fulmer said on his Sunday evening teleconference. ``It puts the other team in a bit of a chase mode. We've been on both sides.

``You'd like to start off and put yourself in the driver's seat and not depend on someone else to win for you. This would be a huge step toward playing in the SEC Championship.''

The Vols have been on the positive side three of the last four years, beating the Gators two straight in The Swamp - 2001, 2003 - and pulling out last season's game on a last-second field goal by James Wilhoit.

``There is an incredible amount of emotion that goes into this game,'' Fulmer said.

The emotional pitch could be jacked up a notch or two this season as the Vols play in the first big game of the Urban Meyer Era.

It's Florida's third game this season, Tennessee's second.

Tennessee is trying to become just the third team over the past 30 years to beat Florida three in a row in Gainesville. The Vols have beaten Florida three straight at Florida Field, but it came over an 18-year stretch: 1953, 1955, 1971.

Meyer said he hasn't been pleased with his offensive execution, even though the Gators have scored 32 and 41 points against Wyoming and Louisiana Tech, respectively.

The spread-option attack isn't totally new to Tennessee. Fulmer said he can recall playing two teams that run an offense similar to Florida's.

The Vols beat Northwestern 48-28 in the 1997 Florida Citrus Bowl then lost to Clemson 27-14 in the 2004 Peach Bowl.

``They had some pieces of it,'' Fulmer said of Clemson and Northwestern. ``Florida has done a good job of putting all the pieces together. They have the ability to run the zone, misdirection, nakeds (boot legs), reverses - all the things that come with it.

``They make you defend every bit of the field. They complicate it with the ability to throw downfield and they have great talent at quarterback and at receiver. It makes you disciplined in your assignments. You're going to give up some plays.

``We've even toyed with some of it. It's designed to spread people out and let players make plays. There's a lot of merit to that.''

* Meyer said Tennessee doesn't wow you with its schemes, but they do impress you with personnel.

The question was meant to get a rise out of Fulmer. It didn't seem to work.

``We like to run the football and from a scheme standpoint in the passing game, we do about as much as anybody could,'' Fulmer said. ``We try to stick with a pretty standard run game so we can be physical with our offense. It's served us pretty well through the years. I kind of like where we are.''

NOTES: Fulmer said he hasn't decided yet whether to start true freshman strong safety Demetrius Morley against Florida. UT benched Antwan Stewart at halftime of the UAB game because of ``assignment issues,'' and went with Morley, who played a decent second half. Fulmer said center Richie Gandy will play. How much depends on how healthy he is. Fulmer also said that while Rick Clausen will start at quarterback, Erik Ainge will play, but an exact rotation hasn't been determined.


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