Obviously, the fact Lincoln has connected on 12 of 13 field-goal attempts to date is an overwhelming positive. Conversely, the fact the Vols have settled for field goals instead of touchdowns a dozen times through the first six games is a little disturbing.
Head coach Phillip Fulmer concedes that taking three points instead of seven is a growing concern.
"You don't want to settle for field goals," the head man said. "You're glad to get the points but settling for field goals can get you beat sometimes."
Lincoln, a redshirt freshman from Ocala, Fla., has been one of the most pleasant surprises on the Vol roster this fall. He ranks second among SEC players in scoring with 60 points (10.0 per game), and is on pace to score 120 points. To put that in perspective, consider that four-year starting place-kicker James Wilhoit's best year was 2006, when he amassed 96 points as senior.
Lincoln made his first eight field-goal tries of 2007 before missing his first attempt last Saturday at Mississippi State. He bounced back to make his remaining four field-goal tries, and those 12 points provided the margin of victory in the Vols' 33-21 triumph.
Still, Fulmer is a little disappointed that the Vols had more field goals (four) than touchdowns (three) last Saturday. Tennessee would've had four TDs and four field goals except that receiver Austin Rogers dropped a second-quarter pass in the end zone. Two plays later Lincoln missed a 26-yard field goal.
"We've been pretty good down there (Orange Area) until this week," Fulmer noted, adding: "We had one drop that would've been a score where we had to kick the field goal."
Tennessee had five touchdowns and zero field goals in its best performance of the year – a 35-14 Game 5 defeat of Georgia. That's the kind of Orange-Area production the Vols may need to prevail in upcoming games against Bama, South Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky.