Through Carolina's first seven games Succop has been nothing short of brilliant. The talented sophomore has nailed nine of 10 field-goal tries, including a career-best 55-yarder last weekend vs. Vanderbilt. His lone miss was a 51-yarder against Georgia in Game 2 that bounced off the left upright. In addition, his 44.4-yard punting average ranks third in the SEC and his 41.72 net average ranks second nationally.
"They have a very fine kicker in Ryan Succop, who we recruited and looked at for a long, long time," Fulmer noted this week. "But we just weren't in a position sign him."
That's because the Vols already had a quality punting prospect (Britton (Colquitt) and a proven place-kicker (James Wilhoit) on scholarship.
Succop will be going one-against-two tonight but he's accustomed to that. He's one of those rare individuals who excels in the dual role of punter/place-kicker.
"He's done very well as their kicker and their punter," Fulmer noted. "Our kicker and punter will have to take the challenge, which I believe they will and they are capable of doing."
Colquitt and Wilhoit appear more than capable. Colquitt's 46.9-yard punting average would lead the entire NCAA if he had enough kicks to qualify for the rankings. Meanwhile, Wilhoit has made 10 of 12 field-goal attempts this fall, including a 51-yarder against Florida. He also has put 24 of 45 kickoffs into the end zone.
Tennessee's chances of winning the kicking game tonight suffered a blow when the Vols learned that tailback LaMarcus Coker is out three to six weeks with a strained knee. Coker, who doubled as the No.1 kickoff return man, was averaging a team-high 19.9 yards per runback at the time of his injury.
With the Vols installed as scant five-point favorites, special teams could prove decisive tonight.
Fulmer concedes as much, noting: "The kicking game is an area that we want to continue to try to win."