UT focused on Air Force

Tennessee's football team wrapped up its final full practice session of the week Thursday on a positive note, working for 90 minutes at Haslam Field with all eyes focused squarely on the Air Force Academy.

The Vols host Air Force on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in a 7 p.m. Eastern time kickoff.

"It was a good Thursday practice," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I'm really pleased that the things we didn't do as well Wednesday, we didn't make the same mistakes today."

Tennessee, 1-0, is coming off a 35-18 victory Saturday over California, a win that vaulted UT to 11th in the writers' poll and 17th in the coaches' rankings. This after an off-season of questions - or challenges - heading into 2006.

"This team has been responsive and that's a real plus for us," Fulmer said. "So far, we've met the challenges. From our off-season program to spring practice to summer to camp and now through the first ballgame.

"Now, their test and their challenge is to handle one game of success. We're not judged on one game; we're judged on 12, 13 or 14 games and we've only played one. It comes down to handling the success they had in the one ballgame and being mature enough, which is a concern for me."

The Vols meet an Air Force opponent making its 2006 debut. Known for its wishbone-type ground offense, the Falcons rushed for no fewer than 195 yards in any game last season and clipped the 300-yard mark in a blowout win over UNLV.

Tennessee limited California to 64 rushing yards last week, with 42 of those coming after the Vols jumped to a 35-0 advantage midway in the third quarter.

"I'm very hopeful we will play with the same kind of intensity, effort, focus and energy that we did in the first ballgame," Fulmer said. "That's our next challenge."

- Fulmer announced Thursday that 2006 signee Chad Cunningham has been placed on scholarship and will dress for Saturday's game. The Dawsonville, Ga., product was considering holding off on his enrollment until January before plans changed.

"I was able to give him a scholarship and he's creating some depth and competition for us at the punting and kicking positions."

INJURY UPDATE (Air Force Week): Questionable - WR Bret Smith (head), DT Dan Williams (ankle). Out - DB Roshaun Fellows (shoulder), DE Jared Hostetter (knee), OG Cameron Mayo (knee), TB Ja'Kouri Williams (ankle).

AINGE TAKES USA TODAY AWARD

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge picked apart the California secondary to earn this week's USA Today Player of the Week honor. The junior threw for four touchdowns and 291 yards as the Volunteers easily got by the No. 9 Golden Bears 35-18.

Ainge also was named Wrangler Player of the Week by The Sporting News. TSN wrote, "A good teacher can make all the difference. Ainge, under the tutelage of quarterbacks guru and new Tennessee coordinator David Cutcliffe, led the Volunteers to a victory against No. 9 California. He threw four touchdown passes against the Bears - only one fewer than he threw all of last season - and completed 11-of-18 passes for 291 yards."


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