Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Vols using Memphis as lesson

Fulmer says errors can help Vols get ready for Kentucky

The Associated Press

        KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says last week's fourth quarter against Memphis was a good lesson.

        Before they visit Kentucky on Saturday, the sixth-ranked Volunteers are working to prevent the same mistakes that allowed the Tigers to score three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

        Tennessee (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) beat Memphis 49-28 but was ahead by 35 points at the end of the third quarter.

        “For three quarters, we probably played as well as we have all year on defense. We've worked like heck to turn that negative into a positive,” Fulmer said Tuesday in his weekly news conference. “I think in a lot of ways it's a blessing in disguise for us as we get ready for this challenge we have against Kentucky.”

        In the fourth quarter, Memphis quarterback Danny Wimprine ran for a 1-yard touchdown and threw passes of 25 and 10 yards for the final two scores.

        Fulmer said those scores were a result of busted coverage and two technique mistakes that the Vols had not made earlier in the game. He pointed to the secondary and linebackers, saying the breakdowns were “things that just shouldn't happen to a team, particularly when you do them right in the first half.”

        Fulmer concedes that opposing receivers are going to make some catches with the Vols playing man-to-man coverage as much as they do.

        “What you don't want is the guy running wide-open down the field. We had one or two of those. We can do a lot better,” he said.

        The Vols will face another team Saturday that likes to pass. Kentucky (2-7, 1-6), which hasn't beaten Tennessee since 1984, averages 255.7 yards in the air compared to 238.8 yards for the Vols.

        The Wildcats passed for 453 yards against Vanderbilt in a 56-30 win last week.

        The Vols will be challenged to pressure quarterback Jared Lorenzen before he can throw the ball.

        After Tennessee recorded a school-record 50 sacks last year, many of its opponents this year have tried to pass sooner. The Vols have 21 sacks so far this season.

        “People are working like heck not to let us sack them,” Fulmer said.

        Defensive end Will Overstreet said the key to having a better pass defense is to be more consistent.

        “We have to be better all the time. At times we've come out there and shut them down. The coverage is great. The pressure is great. Everybody is where they're supposed to be,” he said. “At times, the pressure isn't really there. And the coverage isn't there, and the whole thing breaks down.”

        The fourth quarter against Memphis also revealed a problem on offense. Fulmer said there is a big dropoff between the first- and second-team lines. The absence of Michael Munoz and Jason Respert, who both are out this season following surgery, was obvious.

        Before Tennessee scored for the last time in the game, the Vols couldn't get past their own 30-yard line on two possessions in the fourth quarter.

        “We didn't do very well,” Fulmer said.


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