Home not-so-sweet home

One of Tennessee's goals this season was to protect its house, something the team had not done well since the start of the 2000 season. The one-sided victory over California in the season opener was cause for optimism. But since then, the frustration has continued.

Although the Vols are 7-2, both defeats were at home – to Florida by one point and to LSU by four. Against Florida, the offense failed to mount a last-minute scoring drive. Against LSU, the defense fouled to stop a last-minute scoring drive.

The Vols are 4-2 at home this season, but 1-2 at home against SEC teams.

What's worse, the Vols have lost seven of their last eight home games to ranked SEC teams, dating to the start of the 2002 season. The one win was against Florida in 2004. The losses: Florida and LSU in 2006, Georgia in 2005, Auburn in 2004, Georgia in 2003, Florida and Alabama in 2002.

Since the start of the 2000 season, the Vols are 3-8 at home against ranked SEC opponents. Besides Florida in 2004, the wins were against LSU and South Carolina in 2001.

By contrast, under Phillip Fulmer in the 1990s, the Vols were 7-3 against ranked SEC teams at Neyland Stadium.

The wins: Florida in 1992 and 1998, Georgia in 1993, 1997 and 1999, Alabama in 1996 and Arkansas in 1998. The losses: Florida in 1994 and 1996, Alabama in 1994.

That puts Fulmer at 10-11 at home against ranked SEC teams.

A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER?

One of Fulmer's favorite sayings is, ``They remember what you do in November.''

The Vols have a wonderful record in November since 1985: 77-8.

But that record isn't so good against ranked teams in the 11th month.

Under Fulmer, the Vols are 5-3 in November against ranked teams.

Since 1985, the Vols are 7-5 in November against ranked teams.

In December regular-season games since 1985, the Vols are 3-2 against ranked teams – each of those games have been under Fulmer. UT won at Florida in 2001 and won the SEC title in 1997 and 1998. The loses were in SEC championships games to LSU in 2001 and Auburn in 2004.

The November losses since 1985: three to Notre Dame (1990, 2004, 2005), Memphis (1996), Arkansas (1999), Miami (2002), Vanderbilt (2005) and LSU (2006).

In November, Tennessee is 55-3 against SEC opponents (28-1) since 1985.

HOLDING A LATE-GAME LEAD

While John Chavis has been an excellent defensive coordinator for the Vols, one of his downfalls is holding a late lead.

Tennessee's failure to stop LSU on its final drive marks the ninth time that's happened in Chavis' 11-year run as the leader of the defense.

Alabama, South Carolina and Vanderbilt scored late to beat the Vols last year. Georgia did it in 2001. LSU and Florida turned the trick in 2000. Arkansas in 1999 and Memphis in 1996 were the other two.

Chavis' patented response: ``It's my responsibility.''

Of course, while pointing out some of the defensive lapses, you must also note that many times, Chavis' unit has made a fourth-quarter stop to win games.

EXTRA POINTS: Tennessee receiver Slick Shelley, an Arkansas native who grew up a Hogs fan 25-30 miles from Fayetteville, said he's had to get more than 20 tickets for friends who plan to attend the game. Shelley had stomach surgery in August and hasn't played much this season. Shelley said he also considered LSU. … Chavis said the UT run defense is not ``dog awful but it's not what we used to be. That's a fact. I think anybody can see that.'' … Of LSU's 81 offensive snaps, Chavis said UT blitzed on 45 and rushed at least four on each of the Tigers' 15 snaps during their game-winning drive.


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