QBs to get hit in scrimmages

Some would argue that Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge hasn't been the same since he suffered a separated shoulder against Notre Dame in November of 2004. They say he might be gun shy, that he's afraid of contact, and that he panics when pressured.

Certainly, Ainge was out of sorts last year.

How will he respond in 2006?

No one really knows. But Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer thinks the best way to prepare Ainge for this season is to take off his green jersey for at least one scrimmage and see how he reacts.

``We're going to have a scrimmage where all the quarterbacks get tested from a physical standpoint, playing the game and getting hit,'' Fulmer said.

He said the Vols will go wide open probably in the scrimmage two Saturdays before the season opener Sept. 2 against California.

``We've already told the quarterbacks to prepare for that,'' Fulmer said. ``We want them to play the game so we'll know that they're looking where they're supposed to be looking and not paying attention to the rush.''

That was a huge problem for Ainge last year. When pressure came, he had a tendency to look at the pass rushers, not the pass receivers.

Fulmer also said the contact scrimmage will make the receivers accountable.

``They have to really get open,'' Fulmer said. ``It's one thing to be throwing 7-on-7 or routes against air, or even in a scrimmage where it's not full speed or team work where it's not full speed.

``But when you get live bullets coming at you, then things have to happen on time, and the only way to really know that is to play football 11-on-11, full speed.''

Of course, that's rolling the dice a bit, and can make the coach uneasy.

In 1998, when the Vols were breaking in Tee Martin as the quarterback, Fulmer said the Vols had a couple of live scrimmages where the quarterback was fair game.

``I know we had one long one because I was puckered up for the whole darn scrimmage out there with a fast whistle if we needed it,'' Fulmer said.


Fulmer said he thinks basketball player Stanley Asumnu will be part of the team this fall, but it could be a scholarship issue.

Fulmer isn't sure he has any aid to give the Houston native, and he's not sure Asumnu can afford to be a walk-on.

``He has no shortage of attitude, no shortage of work ethic, no shortage of character,'' Fulmer said. ``I came into the building one Saturday morning around 9. I don't know how he got into the building, but he was running with a weighted vest getting conditioned. He was soaking wet. He's a fabulous young man. He's influenced guys on the team in a very positive way. If I can help him, I'm going to help him. I'm just not sure how yet.''

Fulmer said if Asumnu had come out for football two or three years ago, he would probably be in the receiver mix.

``It's very difficult to come out in one year and learn everything that's necessary to learn,'' Fulmer said.


UT offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe said he's ``a little disappointed'' that some players haven't lost enough weight.

``I'm not going to name names because we've got two weeks to go, but it's non-negotiable. I don't want any fat players and I don't want anybody that can't run. I want our linemen to be able to run all day long.

``Let's face it. The bottom line is, I don't care how good you are, games are going to be won and lost in the fourth quarter and we better be at our best in the fourth quarter. It takes physical conditioning and mental toughness and discipline and that's what we're aiming for. When we come out of August, that's the first thing we better have accomplished. That's No. 1 on my list.

``I'm simple-minded. I told the coaches that's where my heart and focus is going to be. We've got plenty of Xs and Os. I'm not nearly as worried about that as how we're going to compete in the fourth quarter. The only way you do that is you practice like you plan to play well in the fourth quarter.''

Two offensive linemen overweight during the spring were Chris Scott and Ramon Foster. Tight end Chris Brown was also too heavy by about 10 pounds.

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