Toughness needed?

Tennessee managed just 48 rushing yards last fall against Georgia, 66 vs. Florida and 70 against LSU. Those were disappointing numbers, considering that the team had some talented running backs, some muscular receivers and some massive blockers.

So what was missing?

Toughness perhaps. That's a theme head coach Phillip Fulmer and new offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe have mentioned several times in recent months. Fulmer was at it again this weekend, emphasizing the Volunteers' need to be more physical up front, more physical in the backfield and even more physical at wideout.

Basically, the linemen need to sustain blocks longer and the ball-carriers need to strain for every inch they can gain before hitting the turf.

"We want to be a tough, physical group of fighters on the offensive front," Fulmer said. "We want tight ends, fullbacks and tailbacks always falling forward."

Not all of the problems in the 2005 ground game could be blamed on the backs and linemen, however. The wideouts did a slipshod job of blocking downfield, rarely springing Vol backs for big gains.

As a result, Fulmer said he is looking for "receivers that aren't prima donnas … (who are) out there blocking when it's their time to block … knocking off the top of the coverage when they're decoys, so that somebody else can be successful."


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