Former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer said he has not met with his replacement, Lane Kiffin.
“We’ve missed each other,” Fulmer said of Kiffin during an interview aired on WNML’s Sports Talk. “We will at some point. He’s been very busy. I’ve been very busy.”
Fulmer said he’s aware of the comparisons between the two regimes, which usually is complimentary of Kiffin and critical of Fulmer.
“That’s only normal,” Fulmer said. “That’s natural that people are going to compare. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
Fulmer, who was dismissed after a 5-7 record in 2008, said he will visit Duke and Ohio State as well as some NFL teams, such as the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts, to stay on top of scheme changes in football in case he coaches again.
Fulmer worked for ESPN and CBS since his tenure at UT ended but isn’t sure if he’ll have an opportunity to continue in that line of work.
“They’re kind of having the same issues that everyone in the world is having with the economy things that are going on,” Fulmer said. “Whether they’re hiring new talent or whatever, I don’t know.”
Fulmer said he was considering “a lot of personnel things . . . staff and otherwise” before he was dismissed.
One likely thing would have been firing offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who is now the head coach at Bowling Green.
Fulmer said he found it odd that he received so much criticism over the years concerning his offensive system. Then, when he changed his approach and turned over the reigns to Clawson, it led to his downfall.
“That was one decision I’d certainly like to have back,” Fulmer said. “We had a very sound system. I’m not saying it was Dave Clawson’s fault. The dynamics of how it all happened really didn’t work out very well for us.”
Fulmer seemed displeased that his assistant coaches weren’t given quicker notice that Kiffin wouldn’t retain them.
“If I came in new, I might want everybody new as well,” Fulmer said. “They were kind of strung out a little bit. That wasn’t real good I don’t think.”
Good and Bad: Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has seen the good in UT’s offensive line — namely the running game.
“Right now they like to play it physical and that’s been a good thing for us,” Chaney said of UT’s rushing attack, which he admitted has exceeded expectations.
Then there’s the bad.
“Pass protection has not yet met my expectations,” Chaney said. “I think we should be a better football team in the pass protection standpoint than we are today.”
Chaney maintained that UT’s five offensive line positions are still up for grabs. The Vols went with Jarrod Shaw and Chris Scott at tackle, Jacques McClendon and Vladimir Richard at guard and Cody Sullins at center with the first team during the final portions of practice Thursday.
“We haven’t made any decisions on who’s going to be starting that first ball game in the fall,” Chaney said. “It’s open competition. Let’s get it on.”
Cody Pope has seen as much movement recently as anyone, playing tackle and guard over the past week.
Gagged: A new defensive scheme is helping redshirt freshman linebacker Herman Lathers.
Whenever the Vols utilize a “gag” defensive front, which means lining up defensive tackles closer to the center, Lathers is less likely to be bullied by UT’s interior offensive lineman.
“That helps a lot,” said Lathers, who is competing with junior Nick Reveiz for playing time at middle linebacker.
While Reveiz relies on instincts and strength, Lathers brings the athleticism.
“My strength I bring in is speed and quickness because of my size,” the 217-pounder said. “I have to play quick and fast.”
Lincoln’s Lone Lapse: Daniel Lincoln missed his final field-goal attempt of the day after nearly turning in a flawless performance.
“We make just about every kick during our charting period. Today we’re 29-of-30,” the junior said. “The one we miss is at the end of practice. That leaves a little bitter taste in your mouth.”
So Lincoln stayed on the practice field and kicked two more field goals as the rest of the Vols headed to the locker room.
Injuries: Defensive lineman Wes Brown did not practice with a sore knee. Tight end Luke Stocker returned, overcoming a concussion.