Knoxville (WVLT) "We're disappointed, but certainly not dead."
Words every UT Football fan needed to hear from Coach Phillip Fulmer in his weekly news conference, three days after a 59-20 drubbing by Florida in "The Swamp".
Coach Fulmer says no one is shirking from responsibility for the slow start, but he says the team needs to respond well.
"We have to stop beating ourselves," Fulmer said.
Some keys that Fulmer stressed, improving the team's short yardage offense, and preventing the big plays on defense and special teams.
Coach Fulmer says the team is glad to be back home playing in front of home fans.
He says Arkansas State is a good-looking football team.
He says it all starts with stopping quarterback Corey Leonard, but they have good running backs and four tight ends that they use extensively.
The Vols (1-2) will try to get back on the winning track Saturday at 7 pm against Arkansas State (1-1).
The game is available on pay-per-view.
Volunteer TV News will have complete All-Vol coverage coming up Saturday night at 11.
Stay connected with Vounteer TV News and volunteertv.com for continued coverage of this developing news story.
Here's Coach Fulmer's Complete Media Day Quotes:
“I’ll spend a little bit of time on Florida, but as I told our football team, its time to move on, learn from it and move on. We’re disappointed in our last ballgame. We’re disappointed to be 1-2 at this particular point. We’re disappointed but certainly not dead. I looked at the coaches’ and players’ demeanor on the practice field, their energy level yesterday and their enthusiasm to go out and practice. That’s really where you find out the most about your team, and it was very good yesterday.
“The most obvious realization that’s out there is we have to stop beating ourselves and execute better. Turnovers on offense, whether it be in the orange area going in or when we give up a score that the other team’s offense didn’t earn, is a problem and we certainly will correct it. Short-yardage offense, we will continue to look and work at that and get it fixed, and then big plays on defense and in the kicking game. We’ve given up two punts in three ballgames to outstanding punt returners, but that’s something we can do something about, just as we can do something about big plays being given up on defense. That is to be where you’re supposed to be. If it’s on top of a receiver, then you’re on top of him, not running with him. If it’s an assignment that you have a responsibility for the quarterback or the pitch, that you’re where you’re supposed to be. (We need) more consistency in our execution, whether it be in the kicking game, defensively or offensively.
“Our guys are working hard. There is a lot of football to be played yet, and they certainly seem to have an attitude that is very good, to go to practice and get themselves better and our problems corrected.
“I have not seen anyone that has not been accountable as coaches or players. It starts with me, certainly. I don’t see anyone shirking their accountability, and that’s a good start. But we absolutely must respond well. We’re glad to be at home after playing on one coast and then the other. We’re looking forward a loud and exciting stadium there to support our football team.
“We go into this game fairly healthy after the two physical games we have played. Andre Mathis will be one guy that won’t be with us after an injury in the last ballgame. He has primarily been used on kickoff return as a wedge guy and has done a really good job for us. Ryan Karl has an ankle (injury). He is just limited a little bit, but he should be fine for the game. Eric Young has an ankle. He will be limited a little bit but should be fine for the game. Wes Brown played with a shoulder that he hurt in practice. Antonio Reynolds has a shoulder that he played with against Florida and should be fine as well.
“In Gerald Jones’ absence we’re looking for Ahmad Paige to step up. He is another freshman that has a chance to contribute. We’re still working at getting Kenny O’Neal more involved in the offense. It would certainly help him and us if we were able to do that quickly. I’m really happy with the progress of Vladimir Richard and Jacques McClendon. Both of those guys are going to make significant contributions for us.
“I told the group earlier, Brent Vinson is about 90 percent on defense now. If there is anything special on offense we want to try to get him involved with, we’ll look at bringing him over there. But with Antonio Gaines’ injury, we’re trying to get our best group on the field. Brent will spend more time with the secondary.
“I’m really happy with what Dennis Rogan has done and how fast he has progressed at safety since we moved him over there. I think as time goes on, he will get more playing time. DeAngelo Willinghamyou don’t sign a junior college guy unless you’re anticipating him starting for youis pushing himself in that direction. I like what he is doing right now and where he is from an attitude standpoint.
“As far as Arkansas State, we certainly have great respect for them. If you look at the film on them, you see a good looking football team on both sides. Offensively, it starts with their quarterback; Corey Leonard is a really good player, a guy that can throw the football. He has a great release; he is quick on the edge. He will fake the zone play and come out running. He is a very good quarterback. They are averaging about 456 yards a game in the two games they have played. It starts with stopping him.
“The running backs are good. They have a big, physical offensive front. They have four tight ends that they use a lot. They are good-looking athletes along with the receivers. We have to work to get ourselves off the field and try to keep them off the field as well.
“Defensively, they give you a lot of looks, a lot of pressure. It’s no different that what we see all the time. A very athletic, aggressive group of guys. Probably the most impressive group on their field is the secondary. They’ve got four seniors that have started for four years together. They work together very well and do a nice job.
“They have a solid kicking game, and we expect a heck of a football game from them. They took Texas to 21-13, and Texas had to recover an onside kick at the end of the game. We know we’re going to have to play well to beat a good Arkansas State team.”
Quotes Courtesy: UT Sports Information