Vols get their kicks ... sort of

Because three-year starter Britton Colquitt is suspended for Tennessee's first five games of 2008, the Vols almost certainly will use two punters this season.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer is hoping he won't have to call on multiple place-kickers in '08 but, based on Saturday's Orange & White Game, that might not be a huge problem. Three kickers combined to go four for four on field-goal tries in the annual spring scrimmage.

Returning starter Daniel Lincoln, who nailed 21 of 29 field-goal attempts and earned first-team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America as a freshman last fall, made his only attempt on Saturday, a 43-yarder.

Devin Mathis, a freshman walk-on from Chattanooga, connected on field goals of 30 and 45 yards. Taka Koyano, a freshman walk-on from Maryville, banged home a 41-yarder in the closing minutes.

Sophomore Chad Cunningham, who will handle the punting chores while Colquitt is paying his penance, had a spectacularly erratic performance. Kicking with the wind, he boomed punts of 45 and 50 yards. Punting into the wind, however, he had kicks of just 30 and 31 yards. There were no pooch punts, so his average of 39.0 was OK but nothing to get excited about.

Cunningham also projects to be Tennessee's kickoff man while Colquitt is sidelined. Kicking from the 30-yard line, Cunningham's first two kicks on Saturday were excellent – carrying to the 2-yard line and the 3-yard line, respectively. His third kick was fielded at the 10-yard line. Lincoln and Mathis did not get as much distance or hang time on their kickoffs.

Dennis Rogan and Lennon Creer will handle the kickoff-return chores this fall, with Rogan also doubling as the punt-return specialist. Neither performed those duties on Saturday, however. All of the O&W punts (by coach's decree) resulted in fair catches. Senior tailback Ja'kouri Williams, a little-used backup throughout his career, showed some potential on kickoff returns with runbacks of 22, 33, 18, 36 and 21 yards.

All in all, Fulmer seemed reasonably satisfied with the special-teams play in the O&W Game.

"I was pleased with the kickers and getting a chance to see our punter – for the first five weeks, at least – punt live," Fulmer said. "Chad did a good job, and it looked like he did the best job on kickoffs, as well."


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