Just for the sake of comparison, SEC East rival Kentucky also has returned eight kickoffs to date. The Wildcats have 252 return yards, however, and their 31.5-yard average ranks No. 5 nationally.
Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer is aware of his team's futility on kick returns but is not terribly concerned about it. He says the Vols' return average is misleading, citing the fact Demetrice Morley slipped and fell on the 1-yard line while fielding a kickoff against Air Force.
"We slipped down on the 1 or we'd be somewhere in the middle of the pack," Fulmer said of the Vols' No. 119 national ranking. "And we were lined up to receive an onside kick against Cal. They kicked it deep, and we ended up getting a 13-yard return or something like that.
"The statistics are a little bit skewed, although we have not done nearly as well as we would like to have. We will address that in practice tomorrow (Wednesday)."
Tennessee ranked eighth among SEC teams and 77th nationally with a 19.8-yard kickoff return average last year. In addition, punt coverage was a disaster. As a result, Fulmer totally revamped UT's approach to special teams for 2006.
So far, the results do not reflect that improvement has been made. Fulmer insists it has, however.
"We're getting closer," he said. "We're getting closer."