As a result, head coach Phillip Fulmer has a severe case of mixed emotions these days. He is alternately elated and deflated, depending on whether he is pondering the Vol defense or the Vol offense.
“I’m really encouraged by our defensive football team – to get consistently done what they’ve gotten done this spring with the graduation losses and the people they have out,” he said. “Their productivity has been good.”
Given that UT must find six new starters for its front seven, Fulmer was hoping the secondary would provide some stability this spring. So far it has done precisely that.
“It’s fun to watch our secondary play right now,” the head man said. “There’s some good athletes back there with experience. They’re allowing the front to mix the four-man rush and pressure. We’re not giving up big plays.
“When they’re throwing the football we’re getting up there and getting after it pretty good. We got our hands on some balls. Certainly, that’s very pleasing.”
Fulmer’s grin faded into a frown, however, when he switched his focus from the performance of Vol defenders to the play of their offensive counterparts.
“Offensively, it was a heck of a struggle to get any kind of continuity,” he said. “The second group (led by Jonathan Crompton) had a couple of nice drives but we’re not nearly where we need to be, to say the least. There were dropped balls.
“We didn’t have any fumbles or exchange problems, which was two of our goals, so we achieved those things. We managed the clock pretty well, and that was a plus. But the protection, throwing and catching – we’re just not nearly there yet.”