Tough enough?

One of the most common complaints about the 2005 Tennessee football team was that it lacked toughness.

The Vols weren't tough enough to win the trenches against physical foes such as Alabama and Georgia.

The Vols weren't tough enough to pick up a foot on third-and-inches.

The Vols weren't tough enough to dominate lesser opponents.

The Vols weren't tough enough to overcome minor injuries and fatigue.

As a result, Tennessee limped home with a 5-6 record.

Given the lack of toughness exhibited in 2005, you wonder: Are the Vols of 2006 tough enough?

"We're a work in progress," head coach Phillip Fulmer said recently. "Some of the guys have never been here, never been to the level we're trying to push ‘em – in the off-season and here in spring practice."

To improve his team's toughness, Fulmer and his staff have been working the Vols long and hard.

"We've been on the field 2½, nearly 3 hours at times," the head man said. "We're trying to use every minute of the spring we can. And we need it."

Fulmer paused, pondered the question, then repeated it.

"Are we tough enough? We have a few guys that have played at this level and understand," he finally answered, "but not enough guys yet."

The head man should have a much better feel for his team's toughness when the Vols hold their first full-scale scrimmage of the spring later today.

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