UT could've thrown more

Why didn't Tennessee go to the air more against Air Force? Even head coach Phillip Fulmer was asking that question at the conclusion of the Vols' shaky 31-30 victory Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

"We probably ran the ball too much, to be honest with you," the head man conceded. "They didn't stop the pass at all. We were just talking in the locker room (about how) we probably ran it too much. But we were trying to run the clock, keep our defense off the field."

Tennessee scored on its first five possessions of the game, getting a field goal on the first and touchdowns on each of the next four. An interception thwarted possession No. 6 and the Vols ran out the clock on No. 7.

Four TDs and a field goal in six complete possessions is awfully productive. Still, the Vols may have been even more productive if they'd been more air-oriented.

Senior receiver Jayson Swain said Vol wideouts found the Falcon secondary to be easy pickings all night long. Lacking the speed to run with the Vols, Air Force defensive backs played deep and gave UT's pass catchers lots of room underneath.

"Of course," Swain said. "Physically, we was better than them across the board, so what team wouldn't do that? We felt like we could make any play we wanted to in the passing game. They were keeping those guys back, and we were fortunate to make plays in front of them."

Junior quarterback Erik Ainge was spectacular. He threw 29 passes on the night, completing 24 for a career-best 333 yards.

"He's getting better," Swain noted. "He's getting better every week. And he's getting more comfortable."

Ainge made just one glaring mistake. He threw a fourth-quarter interception at a time when Tennessee, leading 31-17, could've put the game away. Given the struggles of Tennessee's ground game (79 yards on 32 attempts), however, the Vols might have been wise to let Ainge wing it even more than he did.

"In the passing game, we felt like we could do pretty much whatever we wanted to do," Swain said. "We knew we could make plays in the passing game, and we did that."


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