Fulmer breaks own rule

College football's Golden Rule is: "Take ‘em one game at a time and never look ahead." Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer broke that rule this week but it could help the Vols win this Saturday.

Fulmer and his staff spent Sunday morning studying film of Game 4 foe Ole Miss … even though the Vols were still waiting to play Game 3 foe LSU on Monday night. He and his staffers also spent Monday morning poring over Ole Miss film.

The move, though unprecedented, was understandable. With the LSU game postponed from Saturday to Monday night, UT would be facing a very short week of preparation for this Saturday's game with Ole Miss. Since preparations for the LSU game already were complete, Fulmer and his aides shifted their focus to the Rebel invasion BEFORE playing the Tigers.

"Sunday and Monday mornings we went to work on the (film) breakdowns for Ole Miss, so we wouldn't be behind," Fulmer conceded earlier today. "We're very much caught up from that standpoint."

Obviously, having just three practice days to prepare for Ole Miss, instead of the usual four, is a challenge. But it isn't THAT big a challenge. The Vols already have seven weeks of practice and three games under their belts. They know what to do, so the short week of preparation is merely an adjustment that must be made … just as flying to LSU on game day was.

"I think that's a mindset," Fulmer said. "We're going to do our part to make sure we handle the (practice) time on the field and the demands of the physical part of it. But I think it's a mindset. NFL teams do that (play Monday night and again on the weekend) all the time."

The Vols normally enjoy a day of rest on Sunday and a light practice on Monday. Since playing on Monday night cost them this luxury, they are a little wearier than usual this week. Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said he would "cut back a little bit" on full-scale practice work, so the Vols can rest their legs a bit.

"You can't NOT practice just to get fresh," Sanders said, "but we have to be really smart in how much we practice and what we try to do while we're out there."

Defensive coordinator John Chavis was clearly unconcerned about the short practice week.

"You've got to get ready to go," he said. "You can't control those things, and you can't spend a lot of time worrying about things you can't control."

Helping Tennessee's chances of a quick and successful turnaround is the fact the Vols are in outstanding shape. They clearly had more gas in the tank at the end of the LSU game than the home-standing Tigers.

"Our conditioning is good; I don't have any doubts about that," Fulmer said. "There are a couple of guys that are a little banged up that we need to get back to 100 percent. If we can do that, we'll be fine."

Strange as it sounds, the short week may work to Tennessee's benefit. Practice, after all, is kind of boring. Fulmer said it best:

"I'm sure they'd a lot rather be playing than practicing."


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