KNOXVILLE (WVLT) - The Tennessee defense laid a goose egg Saturday versus Cal, surrendering 31 points and more than 400 yards of total offense to the Golden Bears.
Coach Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday the Vols would take the harsh lessons they learned in Berkeley and use them to improve as the SEC schedule approaches.
He also said Xavier Mitchell was "fine" after suffering a mild concussion in the fourth quarter of the Cal game, and that trainers and coaches would evaluate his health this week to determine whether he should play against Southern Miss.
Fulmer said the Vols' inadequate defensive play did not result from a lack of effort, but from an inability to tackle effectively.
He called Southern Miss a "darn good football team" with an impressive running back (Damion Fletcher) who reminded him of a smaller version of Arian Foster. The Golden Eagles feature a tight end Fulmer said could start on the SEC and they return nine defensive starters.
Tennessee fell to 24th in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. Cal rose to No. 10 in both polls. Southern Miss received 9 points in the AP poll and 16 in the coaches' poll.