Thursday Afternoon Practice Report

The Vols ended their off-week preparations for the Alabama Crimson Tide today. Tennessee's season has taken a dramatic turn from their last off-week prior to the Florida matchup until now.

A little over one month ago, the Vols were ranked fourth in the country. They were 2-0 and ready to go to war with the seemingly harmless Florida Gators. Oh how things have changed. The Vols are now trying to dig themselves out of a brutal month on their schedule that left them with a 4-2 record and fighting for a New Year's Day bowl game. Coach Phillip Fulmer says he is happy with the way the young players have stepped up for the injured over that time period and he is happy with another aspect of the Vol's game.

"Their attention to detail is better," The head man said. "We were able to get a good look at Alabama and get some people healthy. I have seen the upperclassmen coaching the younger guys. So that is encouraging to see." As Fulmer was speaking, I noticed Jason Witten tutoring freshman Aaron Kirkland on his three-point stance technique. Kirkland could become a valuable weapon to the Vol's offensive attack if he can get the blocking schemes down.

Mondre Dickerson, who has been plagued by a shoulder injury, was moved to defensive tackle this week. Dickerson had been a starter at right defensive end after an injury forced Karlton Neal to the injured list. Now Neal has returned and Dickerson would be spliting time with him. Instead Dickerson should add depth over the next season-and-a-half to the tackle slot, but don't be surprised if he doesn't make at least one more big play from the end position before this season comes to a close.

Casey Clausen did not participate in practice today, but that was not unexpected. Fulmer has said all along that it will probably be Monday's practice for Casey to return. That also goes for Alex Walls and Michael Munoz. All three players are hoping to be ready to go next week. Clausen looks to be the only of three that is questionable at this point.

The Vols will start back on Monday with their "official" pre-Alabama preparations. That will carry them up until Saturday October 26, when the greatest rivalry in college football will be renewed. The game looks to be televised at either 3:30 est on CBS or 7:45 by ESPN. Alabama's metting with Ole Miss this weekend should determine the time slot. Bama wins, expect a afternoon kickoff. If Eli rolls the Tide, we are gonna be staying up late.

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