Vols embarrassed?

Tennessee's offensive football players have a lot of factors motivating them this spring.

There's a new coordinator, David Cutcliffe. There's a new tight ends coach, Matt Luke, and a new running backs coach, Kurt Roper. There's a chance to compete for serious playing time at tailback, both guards, tackle and wide receiver.

And there's another factor that may be pushing the offensive players to improve on last year's 18-points-per-game average that resulted in a 5-6 win-loss record.

"I think they probably got their butts embarrassed," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Last year's offensive team was capable of much more than what we produced. Starting with me, none of us did a very good job.

"They're embarrassed, and probably tired of getting talked about."

Fulmer put the Vols through some seven-on-seven scrimmaging Tuesday – their second day in pads – and came away pleased with the effort.

"It was good," he said. "We had about 60 to 65 plays and I thought the effort was there. I'm anxious to see the tape."

Still, there is only so much that can be accomplished in seven-on-seven scrimmaging. That's why the head man is eager for the first full-scale scrimmage.

"There are lots of guys who need to play 11-on-11 because it's like they're playing catch," he said. "They think tackling is like setting a pick in basketball. There's a lot different tempo than what some of the guys are playing at right now."

Fulmer declined to single out any players or positions for praise but called the scrimmage "just a good effort generally."

The Vols hold their first full-scale scrimmage of the spring this Saturday. Asked what he's looking for between now and then, Fulmer replied: "Improvement … them spending time on their own, studying tape and staying out of the training room.

"Fundamentally, where are we? Where are we as blockers, tacklers, runners? Where is our discipline? We had a few penalties today, and we can't afford to have any."

So, how much weight will Saturday's scrimmage carry in terms of assessing where the team is in these various phases?

"It's a marking point," Fulmer said. "Last Saturday afternoon was our first full-speed contact, so that was probably the starting point. Hopefully, we'll be able to mark at a little bit higher level each time we scrimmage.

"We've got to stay healthy to do that. Guys have to push themselves through there. It can't just be an hour meeting with the coaches each day. They've got to spend some time on their own, studying film and talking together.

"The upperclassmen can take the younger guys and do a good job of teaching them. That's when you've got your good teams."

As opposed to your embarrassed teams.


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