More good fortune is necessary, however, if UT is to maintain the inside track toward the Southeastern Conference Championship Game next month in Atlanta. Next up for Tennessee is Arkansas on Saturday in a 12:30 p.m. Eastern time kickoff.
“Getting back into the conference is a big deal,” head coach Phillip Fulmer said. “We prepared well last week, working a lot on fundamentals, and it showed. Hopefully, it will carry over into this football game with Arkansas.”
The Vols and Razorbacks enter Saturday’s contest with identical 6-3 overall records, both teams having won five of their last six after 1-2 starts. But it’s Tennessee that controls its destiny in the SEC East with a large hill to climb this weekend against Heisman Trophy candidate Darren McFadden and Arkansas, which is coming off an impressive 48-34 win over South Carolina.
“Arkansas just mauled them,” Fulmer said. “That many rushing yards (541) in a game is not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. It goes back to big plays. When you give up big chunks of yards and big plays, it’s a problem.”
What Fulmer doesn’t think is a problem is Tennessee’s focus heading into the crucial three-game stretch of Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
“Our team knows that every week is a challenge. We’re certainly capable of meeting the challenge, but we’ve got to have ourselves centered. We’ve done a good job of that the last couple of weeks.
“I don’t see where our players are looking past anybody. You put that film (of Arkansas) on and you think, ‘Gosh, how are we going to get those guys off the field.’”
NELSON RELEASED AFTER WRIST SURGERY
Tennessee head athletic trainer Jason McVeigh reports that sophomore defensive tackle Chase Nelson was released early Sunday morning from UT Day Surgery after undergoing successful surgery to correct a right wrist dislocation.
McVeigh said Drs. Robert Ivy and Russell Betcher of the Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic handled the procedure. Nelson, who was injured in Saturday’s win over Louisiana-Lafayette, is out for the rest of the season but expects to make a full recovery in time for spring practice.