Thursday Practice Afternoon Report

The weather on Thursday was all too familiar for Fulmer and his coaching staff, but despite the much needed rain work, Coach Phillip Fulmer opted to take things indoors for Thursday's practice.

"Practice was fine," said Fulmer. "We got a good work out inside. I think we are in a pretty good groove right now, and I just hope we can keep it up."

The team seemed to be on a mission during practice, and what better week to be on target than after the let down of the previous weekend. Starting out with special teams work, the guys got to work quickly concentrating on anything from onside kicks to punt returns. But the primary focus of the practice came down to offense, offense, offense.

There will be a few subtle changes on the offensive side of the ball. The most noteworthy is probably the introduction of a new face, James Banks. Banks, a freshman quarterback, has been practicing with the receiving corp. all week and will probably get to see a few balls on Saturday against Rutgers. Of course, the familiar faces will still be there including Kelley Washington, who will see his second game of the season, and big tight end Jason Witten, who stretched out for an impressive one handed long catch in Thursday's practice meriting a cheer from his teammates. And as usual, the backfield was crowded with carries being split between all four of the young backs.

On defense, one of the biggest worries was with the defensive backs. After practice Fulmer said that the team has been short at this position. However, the face to watch will be Antwan Stewart.

"Antwan hasn't had much time to get use to the position, but he has a lot of instincts," said Fulmer. "And at cornerback, like at running back, having that instinct is all you really need. And he really wants to please and that is encouraging."

With a helmet and shoulder pads only practice, there were no injuries, and for the most part, the Vols seem to be at relatively full strength. So, it looks like Tennessee will be ready to face Rutgers on Saturday with the Florida game as a learning experience.

"This was our first adversity of the season, and the upper classmen have stepped up," said Fulmer. "We weren't as good as we thought we were, but the team demeanor is good. They came out Monday ready to play, and they have confidence that they can bounce back."

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