Vols tune up for scrimmage

Saturday's big scrimmage in front of the annual coaching clinic attendees was well on the minds of the Tennessee staff during Thursday's 2 1/2-hour practice at Neyland Stadium. So was the Vols' struggling passing game

"We're having a really hard time right now on the perimeter in the passing game," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Our defensive corners are just soaking us up pretty well and the receivers have got to take that challenge.

"We've made some plays during the spring but we just didn't make anything happen Thursday to speak of. We've got to get off better against press coverage."

Tennessee is working through the loss of its top three receivers from last season, when Robert Meachem, Jayson Swain and Bret Smith combined for three of every five team catches and better than 70 percent of the receiving yardage.

Tight ends Chris Brown and Brad Cottam are the top returnees and both are seniors. Brown had 31 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown last year, while Cottam added 14 catches for 182 yards.

"It will be an interesting tape to watch," Fulmer said of Thursday's action. "In spring practice, you are kind of back and forth as to who is controlling the scrimmage - offense or defense - and I thought the defense took the challenge a bit more today.

"Offensively, we did take care of the ball and did not have any turnovers."

Friday afternoon's practice will be light, staged as a walk-through type session at Haslam Field in front of attendees to the annual UT Coaches Clinic. Former Pittsburgh Steelers and Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Cowher is Friday's featured speaker.

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