Fulmer will measure effort at first scrimmage

Looking ahead is a no-no when the regular season rolls around this fall.

But Friday afternoon on Haslam Field, Tennessee spent its football practice looking squarely at today's scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium.

"Everything is geared toward the (today's) scrimmage," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Both sides are well ahead right now, defense and offense both, with just our insertion. Spring practice, especially this early, is about players."

The team has had three practices this week in pads and five total practices in the books.

After bemoaning his team's lack of toughness on both lines of scrimmage, Fulmer won't be worried about coverages and schemes today.

"We'll teach them the assignments," Fulmer said. "We'll teach them the schemes and the techniques and fundamentals.

"I'm looking for effort. I'm looking for guys on defense who are going to be passionate about chasing the football or rushing the passer or breaking on the ball and knocking the thing loose. I'm looking offensively for guys that are going to play with pad leverage."

Exactly how much scheme will be a part of today's scrimmage remains to be seen.

Fulmer said he'll limit defensive coordinator John Chavis and offensive coordinator Dave Clawson in order to sharpen the focus on players.

The defense is still ahead of the offense, as is usually the case this time of year, but Fulmer is pleased with how the offense has taken to Clawson's new system.

Part of that, Fulmer says, is due to UT's experience inserting a no-huddle offense last spring.

"I'm pleased with how well we've picked things up, how fast it's been able to go," Fulmer said. "Coach Clawson has been pleased. We actually went from one kind of a scheme in '06 to another one in '07 with the no-huddle and the guys did a great job. I think that's probably helped us with this transition."

Along with the offensive and defensive lines, quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton, Nick Stephens and B.J. Coleman will be a major focus today.

Those three, however, won't be fair game for contact.

"We will down the road somewhere, I think," Fulmer said. "I'm not backing up on that right now. But coach Clawson, I'm not sure if I've sold him on it just yet."

Fulmer said he anticipates about 40 plays each for the first, second and third teams during today's scrimmage.

Tight End Shuffle: Center Cody Pope worked at tight end in an effort to increase UT's depth at the position after Jeff Cottam suffered a broken leg Thursday.

Fulmer isn't sure whether Pope, who played some at defensive line during two-a-days, will remain at tight end beyond spring practice.

"That could be a long-term move, that could be a short-term move," Fulmer said. "Just to get through scrimmages and the spring, we had to do something."

Fulmer said Cottam's injury, suffered when a defensive back landed on the 6-foot-8 sophomore's leg during Thursday's practice, was a clean break and that he should be back in about six weeks.

Leadership Growing: UT began Friday with a meeting of its "Unity Council," Fulmer said.

Former Vol and radio color analyst Tim Priest spoke to the team about leadership.

"He did a tremendous job," Fulmer said. "We had a fantastic meeting about that sort of thing after he left. This is about as good of a group that we've had who are trying to listen and learn and respond to what we're asking. We're growing in that aspect. I don't think we're where we need to be 100 percent, but we're growing in that aspect."

UT has had a "Unity Council" in place since Fulmer's second season as head coach.

"Lock" and Key: After Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis spoke at UT's annual coaching clinic, Fulmer and Chavis spent about 90 minutes talking football in a closed-door session.

"Coach Chavis and I stole him for about an hour and a half and locked the door and had some great conversations with him," Fulmer said.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 17

andy112382#209793 writes:

Cody Pope at TE, huh? Interesting....6'5.5" 270lbs and has DL and OL experience, who knows! Fulmer turned one guy from the dl to te and he seems to be doing alright for himself these days. Maybe there will be another famous Pope at TE in the SEC.

Can't wait for football!!!

imw8n4u writes:

bring on the comments on the "Unity Council"

GreerVol22 writes:

Edwards...did you come up with that title all by yourself? Sorry about that, if forgot that all your editor understands is elementary English.

cdldoc#211897 writes:

Adams wanted to title the article, "why John Adams Bruce Pearl should quit."

cdldoc#211897 writes:

Adams wanted to title the article, "why John Adams Bruce Pearl should quit."

jimr07 writes:

JACKSON, Miss. -- Two Mississippi State players have been kicked off the team and dismissed from the university after their arrests Thursday night.

VOLinDAWGland writes:

I think the article indicates that the Clawson is calling the shots on offense. Note Fulmer saying that the QBs won't have contact which is Clawson's call as Fulmer wanted more contact for the QB position. At this point in installing the new offense that is probably the correct call, let the QB's focus on play execution and not worry about contact. There will be plenty of time for them to take some hits.

stroker writes:

jimr07 say it ain't so man. Adams will catch h-- if he don't go over there and do something.

smokey90 writes:

Pope showing versatility. He may be punting for the first five games, LOL.

lomas98 writes:

Hopefully they were not getting pointers on how to handle players discipline with Marvin Lewis. Looking forward to see the improvement of the offense throughout the spring.

jimr07 writes:

stroker--i am just helping out as much as i can. i am sure he just missed this story.

waterskier3#226480 writes:

hopefully the basics and fundmentals will stick.... everyone has to admit defense was terrible in this area last year....

so no huddle is gone???? think god!!!!!

BTW looking at he draft boards and not a lot of talk about ainge as QB in nfl..... any comment from anyone?

dgarland1#214014 writes:

Aside from all that stuff, Cody Pope will never play a down at TN. Have you guys ever seen his legs..for a lineman? Jmo, but I think he never takes a snap in a game at any position with the Vols.

johnlg00 writes:

waterskier, as much as I appreciate Ainge's body of work at UT, minus a few boo-boos here and there, I would be amazed if he is a first-day selection in the NFL draft. I would not be shocked if he was not drafted at all, though I would then expect that he would sign somewhere as a free agent. If he is completely healthy, he could be a backup for a few years.

jimr07 writes:

johnlg00--the talking heads are saying he is a sleeper and will be a good value. mike mayock, charles davis, solomon wilcotts, jamie duke to name a few. i hope he is picked and goes on to prove all the ones on here that did not think he was worth a phooey wrong.

jimr07 writes:

tngeoff--i can see that you put a lot of thought in your comment. LOL

4ss#446072 writes:

Hey Ashley, why do they keep censoring you man? Can they not handle what you're saying or what? Keep it up man..........we're (some of us) with you.

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