Nov. 21, 2006

Coach Fulmer's Comments
Coach Fulmer's Q&A

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer announced Tuesday the selection of five permanent team captains for the 2006 football season.

The UT coaches and players named defensive tackles Justin Harrell and Turk McBride, linebacker Marvin Mitchell, wide receiver Jayson Swain and offensive tackle Arron Sears. McBride, Mitchell, Swain and Sears have been stalwarts for the Vols, who enter Saturday's season finale against Kentucky at 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. Harrell was a preseason All-SEC pick before suffering a season-ending injury in September.

"I am proud of our team for electing a quality group of permanent captains for 2006," Fulmer said. "These young men have worked hard as leaders, along with the majority of our senior class, to be examples throughout the year."


"This is always a very tough week as you go into the last week of the season and you're getting ready to say "bye" to a group of seniors. We've got 20 young men who will run through the T for the last time and it will be really hard to hug their neck and watch them run through for the last time. This has been a special group of young men who have done a really great job this year of leading the football team.

"We have really focused on trying to end the season as we started. We've had to battle through a number of injuries during the course of the year that have kept us back just a little bit but I was really glad to see us play as well as we did last week. We want to get our groove back and I thought we did that at Vanderbilt last week. Now, we've got to take that and build on it and carry it over to this Kentucky football game and finish well.

"One of the real great things to see and one of the reasons we played so well and got our groove back was Erik Ainge coming back and doing so well, knocking the rust off quickly and practicing well during the week and then playing well. It was good to see him show the toughness, because we really hadn't seen him in that setting at all where he had an injury he had to come back and play with.

"In the game, we did suffer another loss in Jerod Mayo. That's concerning for us from the standpoint of losing another really good player. But at the same time, Rico McCoy in his absence during the Vanderbilt game, and some during the course of the year, played extremely well. It's good to see a young guy get an opportunity and play well for us.

"It's also good to have LaMarcus Coker back closer to 100 percent. It's been a real lift for our team.

"Our total focus, because I know at this time of the year people get distracted talking about bowl games and you've got a little interruption in our week with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything, will be toward improving as a football team during the course of the week and preparing ourselves to play well against Kentucky. The same motto we had at the beginning of the year certainly will apply to this one, and that is "Fired Up, Focused and Prepared." If Monday is any indication, I think this team is on the right track because we started the week really, really well.

Kentucky is a very, very good team and we'll have to play well to win the game. I think one of the keys to the game will be ball-security. Their defense has struggled at times, but one of the things they have done very well is they have taken care of the ball extremely well and they've been able to take the ball away from opponents. They currently are leading the league in turnover ratio at plus-12, and that certainly is something we will talk to our football team about considerably. So, our discipline, our ball-security and our execution will be key to this football ballgame.

"Kentucky, as well all know, has won the last four ballgames they have played. They've been led by their quarterback, (Andre.) Woodson. He is a playmaker, can makes all the throws, and a guy who I think does a tremendous job of finding the open receiver. They've done a good job with their screen game, their layoffs, and he has the ability to get the ball down the field because he's got a very, very strong arm. It's a big challenge versus him.

Rafael Little, their tailback, I think can play for anybody in this league. He's a really good player and I think they do a good job getting him the ball a lot of ways. They have a group of wide receivers who are good players, but (Keenan) Burton being the guy who's gotten a lot of attention as one of the leading wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference. And their offensive line is very solid.

It's a big challenge for our defensive team that's a little bit on the banged-up side. But we'll have to respond to that challenge, practice well, prepare well and then play well in the ballgame.

Defensively, Kentucky has struggled some but they've been really good at pressure and getting the ball back for their offense. So, we'll address that during the course of the week and, hopefully, play one of our best games of the year this week as we finish up the regular season."


"I have the greatest respect for the authorities and court system involved. These young men made a mistake. They have learned from it and we will move on."

(Tennessee student-athletes Arian Foster, David Holbert and Antonio Wardlow pled guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and underage consumption.)





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