"It's extremely important that we use every day, every minute, every period of our 15 days that we are allowed to get our edge back as a football team," Fulmer said. "I'm ready to turn the page on 2005. I think everyone has reviewed all that they possibly can the shortcomings of last year."
Certainly, last season's 5-6 debacle has been analyzed to death, particularly UT's trials in terms of offense and special teams. With a revamped coaching staff and some new players, Fulmer & Company think 2006 can restore Tennessee to its accustomed place among the NCAA's most successful programs.
"More than anyone else, the coaches and players have high expectations for this coming season," the head man said. "We're aware certainly that we did not play up to the standards that we established here – along with the great tradition of Tennessee football – and we have studied, critiqued, broken down and reviewed every play and every phase of our football team.
"Yes, we've learned a lot about ourselves and, yes, I do think we'll be a much better football team."
Basically, Fulmer said he'll get back to basics this spring. Improving his team fundamentally is the first order of business.
"The one thing that HAS to happen this spring is to improve ourselves from a fundamental standpoint," he said. "That's an everyday affair. Every good team I've been a part of has been good fundamentally, and it starts this spring."
His other priorities are:
- "To become a physically and mentally tough football team."
- "Study our schemes and find out what we do best, particularly offensively. We need to re-establish a personality on offense that gives us our best chance to win."
- "There will be some experimentation to find out what we can do best."
- "Establish our starters and establish our depth."
- "Find the guys on the football team that can be dynamic. Who are the guys who can make some plays that you don't draw up in your X's and O's?"
Ultimately, Fulmer is determined to get Tennessee thinking like a winner, then playing like a winner.
"I want us to get our edge back," he said. "Edge, to me, is that confidence of knowing we are going to get it done. We've won a lot of games around here because we knew as coaches and players that we would get it done. It's kind of a ‘Find a way or make a way' mentality."
Asked what he found most disturbing while reviewing film of last season, Fulmer politely declined to answer.
The message was clear: The calendar says 2006, not 2005.
It's time to turn the page.