Wideouts were washouts

Posted Nov 10, 2003

Tennessee's receiving corps was the only negative in the Vols' stunning 10-6 upset of No. 6 Miami Saturday at the Orange Bowl. The wideouts ran some poor routes, rarely got separation and dropped some catchable balls. As a result, fullback Troy Fleming was UT's leading receiver in the game.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer conceded that the wideouts were inept against the Hurricanes but recalled that the same group was most impressive three games earlier vs. Auburn.

''After the Auburn game everybody had 'em written up as All-Americans,'' Fulmer said. ''There's plenty of time to rectify the mistakes we made Saturday. We've not been as consistent as we need to be at wide receiver.''

Whereas the wideouts were duds, the defensive linemen were studs vs. the Hurricanes. Ends Parys Haralson and Constantin Ritzmann put tremendous pressure on Miami QB Brock Berlin, while tackles Mondre Dickerson and J.T. Mapu held their own in the middle of the line.

''They've just kept getting better,'' Fulmer said of the D-linemen. ''J.T. Mapu has really worked hard to learn defensive tackle. Nobody thought he'd play against Miami (because of a hyperextended elbow) but he told me on Monday he was going to be ready to play. In time, he's going to be a really good defensive tackle.''

The line had to play well for Tennessee to shut down the high-scoring Hurricanes, who averaged 32.5 points per game entering Saturday's play. In fact, the entire Vol defense played well against Miami.

''Defensively, I see us continue to improve,'' Fulmer said. ''It was our best effort of the year with the (four) turnovers.''

Tennessee's offense wasn't very productive but at least it didn't lose the game with turnovers and penalties, as happened in an earlier game with Georgia.

''Offensively, we're still fighting to find a balance of run and pass,'' Fulmer said. ''We ran a little better at times in the Miami game. We struggled to complete passes but we took care of the ball really well.''

Tennessee was roundly criticized after squeaking past Duke 23-6 a week earlier. That win began to look a little more impressive after the Blue Devils hammered Georgia Tech 41-17 this past Saturday. Fulmer wasn't terribly surprised by that development.

''Duke is playing much better football than their record indicated when they played us,'' the head man said. ''Watching film of their game with North Carolina State (one week prior to facing UT), they scared you.''

Related Stories
Searching For Vols Vanishing Running Game
 -by InsideTennessee.com  Nov 6, 2003
Tuesday Practice Report
 -by InsideTennessee.com  Oct 28, 2003
Dawgs throttle Vols, 41-14
 -by InsideTennessee.com  Oct 12, 2003

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RB Troy Fleming (profile)
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