Coach Fulmer said he's really proud of the teams darn good win last week, Coach certainly could have dealt without the drama at the end of the ball game ... but the team had mental and physical toughness to get it done when it counted.
The teams preparation was very good during the course of the week, trying to be proactive, shaking things up a-bit by practicing on Sunday, Coach thinks this works really well.
Players were mentally and physically fresher, starting the work on Tuesday, having Monday off to rest.
Coach Fulmer added, Tennessee is a good football team, when it plays smart football, takes care of the football, and has balance in its offense.
When Erik Ainge plays to the level he's capable of playing, along with Britton Colquitt ... if both these players play outstanding, Tennessee can win more games.
Defenisvely, the team's made strides during the course of the year, it's done better, with four take-aways in the last game.
The kicking game has improved as well.
There's a lot of work still needing to be done, to be where we want to be say Coach Fulmer. This team has a great spirit about it, going to the practice field to get better. And a key for the team is continued improvement each week.
The kicking game can make a difference, and Coach said he's challenging Britton to get better, and with Dennis Rogan returning punts this week, Coach thinks this'll improve this part of the game for the Vols.
On the Defensive Front, the team needs to take another step, Coach says the team is doing well with 11 tackles for a loss last game, but they need to make more plays, and get off the blocks faster/better.
The Vols' LB's can use their experience and ability to make more plays and get better.
The Team's secondary is an ongoing battle because of the injuries it has had as of early and late. These guys have done well, being inexperienced as they are.
Brent Vinson is a wild horse out there in a lot of ways, Eric Berry, and Jonathan Hefney are also playing very well, according to Coach Fulmer.
But Coach added, the team is definitely not near where we need to be, but at least we've been responsive.
The key to us is Erik Ainge ... and simply when he gets out of sync a little bit fundamentally is where we run into troubles.
Coach said he's challenging Erik to get on the ball a-bit more ... along with the offensive line, who's got to disrupt defenses better.
Coach Fulmer says he's proud of Tennessee's Wide Receivers, along with the Tight Ends and Running Backs, especially Arian Foster.
But the entire team can take things to a higher level as it heads into the rest of the season, beginning with Louisiana Lafayette.
The team has shown a real attitude coach likes being around, making every day/practice count, seeing the big picture, on a daily basis, field position, how that leads to points and winning and losing football games.
LA-Laf. is the 7th ranked rushing team in the country, and Coach says Tennessee has got to do a really good job at stopping the run against them.
Coach says the team needs accountability and discipline on part of our defense in order to rack-up another win.
LA-Laf.'s defense is very mulitple, and team will have to be on its game as well on the offensive side.
Jacques McClendon will replace Eric Young this week, because of injury.
Coach is looking for him to take his game to the next level.
Ramon Johnson also needs to give himself his best shot to become a regular starter as well.
Coach Fulmer added, he's looking forward to playing at home, homecoming, as the team goes through this week, it's another opportunity for it to go to the practice field and improve.
COACH FULMER'S COMPLETE COMMENTS (Courtesy UTSports.com):
“To start off, I’m really proud of a good win last week. As I said, I certainly could have done without the drama at the end of the ballgame, but I think it showed great mental and physical toughness from our football team being able to get it done when it counted. Looking back, as you do every game, you look at your preparation and our preparation was very good during the course of the week.
“We did change practice up a little bit trying to be proactive and shake things up with a practice on Sunday, getting a start on the next opponent, but also getting that game over with. I think it worked really well. Our players I think were physically and mentally fresher when we started the week on Tuesday. The work that we got certainly paid off for us.
“We have a good football team when we play smart football, when we take care of the football and have balance in our offense, when Erik Ainge plays to the level he is capable of playing, when Britton Colquitt plays to the level he is capable playing. They were both good (vs. South Carolina), but both of those guys have the ability to be outstanding in ballgames. As we go down the stretch, it’s going to be important that they play outstanding for us.
“Defensively, we’ve made some strides during the course of the year. The biggest that we emphasized and worked on and the players responded to was getting takeaways. The four takeaways in the ballgame were the key to winning the game.
“We continue to play the kicking game better during the course of the year. That has certainly paid off, the work that we have done. We actually changed a few weeks back to an open punt formation to help us with our coverage, and good work has paid of for us there as well. There is a lot of work to still be done to get where we want to be. This team has a great spirit about it; they are fun to coach. They go to the practice field to get better. The key for us is to continue to improve as a football team.
“As I said, in the kicking game I want our players to understand what a difference it can make. Britton and Daniel (Lincoln) have been really good. Britton, in the last couple of ballgames hasn’t been as good as we would like him to be, and I’m challenging him to do that.
“In the punt return game, we have been on the stagnant side. Dennis Rogan will return punts this week. We’re not making enough happen back there, and he has done a really good job in practice. He has had his opportunities in games. On kickoff returns he has done well.
“We’ve also changed a little bit of personnel on kickoff coverage because of we have really outstanding return teams coming up starting with Louisiana-Lafayette. That’s another area where Britton needs to improve, getting the ball up and getting better placement.
“On the defensive front, we need to take another step. We’re doing some really good things. We had 11 tackles for loss; they were a part of that in the ballgame. We had several pressures, a sack, but I want them to get off blocks better and make more plays.
“A lot of teams will take their defensive front and fill a gap and hold the offensive lineman and let the linebackers run and make all the plays. If that’s what we need to get down to doing, we’ll do that. But that hasn’t been our style here, and I expect those guys to make more plays.
“The linebackers have played well for the most part. I think there is an area there that they can improve in and use their experience and ability in better ways to make more plays.
“The secondary has been an on-going challenge with the injuries we’ve had, which are well documented going back to Inky (Johnson) last year. Those guys have really done a good job with their experience level.
“DeAngelo Willingham showed his merit a lot in a tough game against a good passing team last week and got the two takeaways, which were huge. Brent Vinson is like a wild horse out there. He is running around all over the place making plays. If he gets himself out of position, he has enough ability to recover. Eric Berry is playing exceptionally well and Jonathan Hefney has stepped up his game the last couple of weeks after a tough start. We’re not where we need to be, but that group has been responding.
“As far as our offense, I want us to take another step. When we’ve been balanced, we’ve been a better football team. The key to us is Erik playing at the level he is capable of playing at. When he gets out of sync a little bit fundamentally, then he struggles. In the last ballgame, they pressed us and put a lot of people in there to stop the run. We didn’t separate as well as we should have and he didn’t throw it as accurately as he has this year. As we go into the stretch run starting this weekend, I expect him to do a good job.
“Every week the challenges are different as you look at the strengths of the team you are getting ready to play. (Louisiana-Lafayette) is the second-ranked running team in the country. The quarterback is their best offensive weapon to this point. We’ve got to do a really good job of stopping the run against them. He is a really fine football player, and their style with the option and the misdirection requires discipline and accountability.
“We’re looking forward to going out there and getting started to prepare for the option attack.
“Offensively, we’re looking at a very multiple defense. We’ve seen most of it. At this point in the season, there is not a lot that you haven’t seen. They will do a lot of different things defensively.”