KNOXVILLE (WVLT) - If there is one positive stemming from Tennessee's historic loss to Florida last weekend, it is that the Vols were able to pinpoint several areas of weakness.
Now they must embark on the road to improvement.
The Vols' shortcomings in the Swamp were many. The team rushed for only 37 yards. It surrendered a punt return for a touchdown for the second time this year. And the defense often looked lost against Tim Tebow's option antics, missing tackles and blowing coverages en route to the program's worst loss since 1981.
Coach Phillip Fulmer told media members Tuesday that he believes it was Tennessee's mistakes, and not Florida's brilliance, that dictated Saturday's outcome.
"We've just got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot, period -- defensively, offensively, and the kicking game," Fulmer said. "You've got a senior quarterback and a bunch of receivers that really know what they're doing and a veteran offensive front. We shouldn't be having all these problems offensively of turning the ball over."
He also maintained that while the defense was young, it could do a much more effective job of making tackles and covering receivers more closely.
At least one Tennessee offensive lineman says he's taking the Vols' rushing struggles personally.
"They're talking about me, the offensive line, and running backs and basically saying we can't run the ball, so it definitely hits home when they say Tennessee can't run the ball," junior offensive guard Anthony Parker said. "They're talking about me."
Quarterback Erik Ainge was 26-of-41 for 249 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the defeat. He said Tuesday that a healthy rushing game would contribute to the success of the Tennessee passing attack.
"We're not the best rushing team in America right now, but that doesn't mean we can't run the ball efficiently and effectively," Ainge said. "We don't have to hand the ball off 40 times per game to rush for 150 yards. We need to hand it off and throw it as we need to to be efficient and effective on offense."
Tennessee also looks to improve on its punt coverage. Punter Britton Colquitt blamed himself for kicking line drives that put the coverage team in a vulnerable position. Fulmer also attributed the Vols' struggles to "overaggression," contending that players were in position to tackle the returner, but overpursued.
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