Can Vols run?

Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer is determined that his Vols run the football better tonight against Arkansas than they have the previous three games. If the ground attack continues to stall, however, he says he won't hesitate to put the ball in the air.

"We're going to run the football better than we have," he insists. "We have to take some pressure off the passing game, although the passing game is certainly the strength of our team.

"At the same time, when people challenge us in man-to-man situations, the strength of our team has been getting the ball to our receivers, and we will certainly not change that."

Tennessee hasn't managed to rush for 100 net yards in its last three games, mostly because the run blocking has been sub-standard. That's why Fulmer spent more time than usual overseeing the blocking drills this week.

"The emphasis from my standpoint was to be down there and see where we can get our run game better," he says. "We're focused on improving from a technique standpoint, from a fundamental standpoint and darned sure from an aggressiveness standpoint."

Clearly tired of questions about the Vols' inept ground game, Fulmer chided the media earlier this week by noting: "If we were running the ball well and weren't throwing the ball well, you guys would ask me why we aren't throwing it well … with the No. 2 offense in the conference. Results are what I'm interested in."

Tennessee may not see appreciable results in its run game till next year, however. By then, some bright young offensive line prospects will be ready to assume key roles. These include Jacques McClendon, Vladimir Richard, Chris Scott and Ramone Johnson,

"Ramone Johnson is just playing tackle right now but I think he could play guard," Fulmer notes. "He's a really tough guy with really good feet. Vlad I think is going to be a really good player. Chris Scott is going to be a player. It's encouraging."


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