Blocked punt revisited

Tennessee's Chad Cunningham is not especially quick getting the ball airborne on his punts. Still, his timing was not an issue on the punt UCLA blocked and converted into a touchdown Monday night in Pasadena.

That's the word from the Vols' head coach.

"The timing was good," Phillip Fulmer said. "The timing was very good."

Cunningham, who is filling in while first-team punter Britton Colquitt serves a five-game suspension, wasn't blameless in the incident, however.

"Chad didn't get himself where he was supposed to be aligned," Fulmer said. "It was an alignment issue on his part."

Although three UCLA defenders were storming in from Cunningham's right side as the ball was punted, the Vols' head man said there was only one missed block that proved costly.

"It was a combination of two things," Fulmer said. "We let a guy (rusher) go free that shouldn't have been free and Chad's position behind the shield."

Cunningham punted six times for a 39.0 average with two punts downed inside the UCLA 20-yard line and one touchback. He generally put the ball near the sideline, so Tennessee's coverage team could congregate in one area.

"He did fine," Fulmer said. "I'd like to kick every one of them right on the sideline or out of bounds 40 yards down the field. But we're not there yet."

SLOW NIGHT FOR TIGHT ENDS

Brandon Warren and Luke Stocker give Tennessee two of the best receivers at the tight end position in program history, yet they combined for just 16 yards on two catches Monday night.

Stocker caught one pass for 11 yards, Warren one for 5.

"They caught two passes, and we certainly intended to give them a lot more," Fulmer said. "They (Bruins) ran a brackets coverage and had two guys on 'em most of the time. They bracketed our inside receivers a lot, so they make you throw the ball outside quite a bit."

Although Stocker and Warren were relatively quiet in Game 1, Tennessee's head coach expects them to be a lot noisier in the weeks to come.

"They'll get a lot of balls during the year," Fulmer said. "I'm certain."

GERALD WILLIAMS DUE FIRST ACTION

Junior college transfer Gerald Williams, who received NCAA clearance to play just three days before the Vol opener, did not see action in Game 1. He should get his first college snaps in the home opener Sept. 13 vs. UAB.

Williams, a 6-4, 240-pound sophomore, has practiced at weakside linebacker, middle linebacker and defensive end. Where will he play vs. UAB?

"Linebacker," Fulmer said, "and then we'll work him in at defensive end along the way as a pass rusher."

HARDESTY CHALLENGING FOR NO. 1?

First-team tailback Arian Foster rushed 13 times for 96 yards in Tennessee's opener but lost a fumble at the UCLA 6-yard line that proved catastrophic.

Second-teamer Montario Hardesty rushed 12 times for 66 yards, scored on runs of 11 and 20 yards and did not fumble.

Given all of the above, it was inevitable that someone ask Fulmer this week if Hardesty might challenge Foster for the No. 1 tailback job.

"They're both starters in our minds," Fulmer said. "They're both going to play and play significant roles in what we do."


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