Want to call a play?

Borrowing a page from the "American Idol" TV show, Tennessee football is becoming more interactive … at least during spring practice. Instead of just observing this year's Orange & White game, fans have a chance to make an impact on it.

Beginning March 12, Vol supporters may go to utsports.com and vote on (1) the starting lineups, (2) the game's opening play and (3) a special play to be run at some point during the scrimmage.

Knowing how fond fans are of gadget plays, head coach Phillip Fulmer understands that the special play is sure to offer plenty of razzle-dazzle. Still, he vows to keep his end of the bargain.

"We'll run the play," he said with a laugh. "I can tell you it's going to be some deep halfback pass or something. But we'll do what we said we're going to do."

In addition, the 2007 Orange & White game will be free to the public. This represents a departure from years past.

"I think it's a great thought, to show appreciation to our fans and get some interest in the spring game," Fulmer said.

This year's spring game will be held March 31, roughly two weeks earlier than normal. Spring practice began this week, roughly three weeks earlier than normal.

Fulmer said one reason for the change is to avoid having UT's 15 workouts interrupted by spring break. Obviously, a one-week layoff can derail a player who is just beginning to get on track in his development.

In addition, Fulmer believes completing spring drills a few weeks earlier than normal will help ensure a healthier and stronger squad when the Vols re-assemble in August for preseason drills.

"If we did have an injury (during spring practice) we would be able to overcome it in the fall," the head man said, adding that the extra time also provides players a greater opportunity for strength and conditioning work in the weight room.

"They'll have a much longer cycle to lift," Fulmer said. "Consequently, you'd expect them to get stronger during the course of the summer."

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