Hogs' run-fest spoils Fulmer's fun

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer got home just in time Saturday night to spoil a 52-point victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.

That's because he watched some of Arkansas' remarkable 48-36 victory over South Carolina – the same South Carolina team that thoroughly outplayed the Vols in the second half of an overtime loss the previous week.

All Arkansas did was rush for 541 yards (UT got 101 on the Gamecocks). All Darren McFadden did was set an SEC single-game record with 323 yards. All Felix Jones did was add 163 more to push his per-attempt average to more than 9.

``Unbelievable,'' Fulmer said of Arkansas' rushing marks. ``They (Gamecocks) didn't look like the same defensive football team that played against us. It goes back to (Arkansas) doing all the misdirection stuff. It's something you don't see every day. It's hard to simulate in practice.''

It will be hard to stop Saturday when the Vols try to run their home record to 6-0 with a 12:35 p.m. kickoff against the Razorbacks.

McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season, thrust his name back into the picture with his brilliant performance against USC. Last season against the Vols, he had 181 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries as the Hogs rushed for 259 yards and totaled 425 yards in a thorough 31-14 pounding of UT.

``He's a great back,'' Fulmer said of McFadden. ``Just a fantastic back.''

Can Tennessee contain Arkansas' run game? It's doubtful. Louisiana-Lafayette rushed for 234. California had 230, Florida 255, South Carolina 171.

Stopping the run isn't UT's forte.

Arkansas not only has the best 1-2 tailback combination in the nation, it returns 6-foot-6 receiver Marcus Monk, an All-SEC talent who has missed most of this season due to two knee surgeries. His presence helps open up the run game.

``Monk certainly does make a difference,'' Fulmer said. ``He's a receiver that is fast and strong and he can make plays. They don't need another weapon.''

Monk had eight catches for 137 yards against UT last season.

Fulmer said Arkansas runs well because of outstanding backs, a strong offensive line and a commitment to the run game.

Can UT throw a new scheme at the Hogs to stop the run?

``At this stage, there's not a ton of different things you can do,'' Fulmer said.

UT's ability to contain the Hogs run game likely will determine the outcome.

``They've got the kind of talent to make you spread out some,'' Fulmer said. ``It's a pick your poison kind of deal.''


Tennessee linebacker Ryan Karl had a rough start to his senior season. He missed tackles against California and Florida. He wasn't making plays. He didn't look comfortable.

That has changed.

In the past two games, Karl has led the Vols in tackles. He had 12 stops against South Carolina and eight more against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The secret to his success?

``It seems like they're not blocking me now,'' Karl said. ``That makes it easy to make plays.''

Karl is being modest. The difference is Karl is finally healthy, or close to it, according to defensive coordinator John Chavis.

``Ryan wouldn't like me making excuses for him but he missed all of fall practice with an injury (back),'' Chavis said. ``When he got in rhythm, he had the ankle injury. He's not 100 percent. He hasn't been 100 percent all year. He hasn't played as well, particularly early, as he'd like and expect. But he's not going to make excuses.''

Chavis said it's hard to play at a high level when you're injured.

``I'm proud of the entire football team,'' Chavis said, ``but I'm really proud of Ryan and what he's battled through with injuries just to be able to play.''


When Tennessee's second-team offense entered the Louisiana-Lafayette game in the fourth quarter, offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe didn't go conservative.

With a 45-7 lead, Cutcliffe called passes on the first two plays, then Jonathan Crompton hit Kenny O'Neal with a 49-yard touchdown throw.

``Our whole theme for this game was to get better,'' Cutcliffe said. ``You can't sit on it and get better. We weren't trying to run it up. We weren't trying to embarrass anybody. We were just trying to play good solid football and let our players that haven't played enough play a little bit.''

The Vols scored one more touchdown to make it 59-7. UT had just four second-half possessions and scored a touchdown on each one.


The Vols unveiled a special package with true freshman receiver Gerald Jones lined up at quarterback and Crompton lined up at split end.

Jones, who quarterbacked his high school team to a state championship, ran twice for 20 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown option keeper.

``There's a few more things with that,'' Cutcliffe said. ``We'll have some fun with it. Gerald is a natural quarterback, believe me. He's really good back there. He can throw the football. . He brings something to the table unique for us and I think it will be kind of exciting down the stretch.''

UT worked on the package in August, but Jones suffered a pulled hamstring and the idea was scraped. When Jones regained his health, UT rejuvenated the scheme.

``When we recruited him, I told him I wanted to do that,'' Cutcliffe said.

Cutcliffe said it isn't a package that will be used only against weaker opponents.

EXTRA POINTS: Defensive tackle Chase Nelson had surgery Saturday night to repair his broken or dislocated wrist, Fulmer said. Receiver Austin Rogers (shoulder) should be ready for Saturday. Center Michael Frogg (back) didn't play against the Cajuns. Cornerback Brent Vinson (shoulder) is OK, Fulmer said. … Arkansas leads the SEC in third-down defense (27.6 percent) and takeaways (22). … Fulmer said he should know Monday about an appeal to get a sixth year for injured tight end Brad Cottam.

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