Tennessee Stat Book
Shortly after a 41-17 loss to Alabama, Tennessee tailback Arian Foster said he wanted to see his teammates smiling as they returned to practice on Monday.
"Personally I think everybody is at their best when they're having fun," Foster said. "I think everybody walking around mad and down and kicking themselves and kicking each other - that's not productive. I think they should have a focus and a swagger about them.
"But just go out there and have fun. It's still football."
Turns out, he and his teammates had to wait barely 24 hours after Saturday's loss to get back to football.
In a rare departure from its usual routine, Tennessee held an hour-long practice Sunday night inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
UT coach Phillip Fulmer floated the idea to his staff shortly after Saturday's game ended.
Then he talked with a handful of senior players, and all agreed a Sunday practice might help the Vols move past Saturday's loss to the Crimson Tide a little more quickly.
And, of course, move on to No. 15 South Carolina, which comes to Neyland Stadium for a 7:45 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.
"We want to get it out of our system, get it watched, make our corrections, give the guys a day off," Fulmer said Sunday afternoon. "We had 80-something snaps on defense and just felt like this would be a way to address some of that."
The team will take today as a mandatory off day and resume its normal practice schedule Tuesday afternoon.
Fulmer said his staff usually begin game planning for UT's next opponent on Sunday night and wait until Monday to watch film with players before practice.
Moving practice to Sunday, Fulmer said, gives his staff an uninterrupted day to plan for South Carolina today.
He added that moving practice to Sunday on a permanent basis, as many other teams across the country have done, could be a possibility next fall.
Another reason why Fulmer opted for a Sunday night practice, he said, was the way Tennessee responded after a Sunday practice following its lone open date of the season on Sept. 29.
The next week Tennessee played perhaps its best game of the season in a 35-14 victory over Georgia in Neyland Stadium.
"We're just trying to shake it up a little bit," Fulmer said. "Do something different. We did this during the open date and guys came back really refreshed and ready to go. That's what I'm expecting from this group of guys this time."
Injury Report: Receiver Lucas Taylor (toe) will be evaluated throughout the week, but is expected to play against the Gamecocks, Fulmer said.
Taylor missed most of the second half against Alabama and finished with two catches for 15 yards because of the injury, which he sustained in a victory over Mississippi State on Oct. 13.
"Lucas is better today than he was last Sunday," Fulmer said. "We'll just have to see how that goes during the course of the week. My feeling is he'll probably be ready to go by this weekend."
The junior entered Saturday's game as the SEC's leader in receiving yards per game.
Taylor participated in all of Tennessee's workout Sunday night.
Coaches will know more about Josh Briscoe (concussion) after the receiver undergoes an evaluation this week.
He did not practice Sunday night.
No Go On Fourth: Fulmer said he was tempted to try to convert a pair of fourth downs against the Crimson Tide.
Tennessee punted twice on fourth-and-short, once needing one yard from the Alabama 47 in the second quarter and again needing two yards from its 48 in the third quarter.
The score - UT trailed 17-14 and 27-17 at the time of the fourth downs - and field position were more important, however.
Fulmer said he was more concerned with field position because UT's defense struggled to stop Alabama's offense.
Run 'N' Gun? South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday on his weekly television show that the Gamecocks will try to run the ball more against Tennessee.
South Carolina had just 26 yards rushing on 22 attempts in a 17-6 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday.
However, USC's top two tailbacks, Cory Boyd and Mike Davis, had 11 carries for 67 yards.
"We just can't go back and throw it 35, 40 times. We're just not good enough," Spurrier said. "So, 16-12, at Georgia - those might be the kind of games we need to try to get into."
Home Again: South Carolina marks the start of a four-game homestand for Tennessee, which played four of its first seven games on the road.
"I think it's great to be at home four games in a row," Fulmer said.
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.