KNOXVILLE — Many football coaches will tell you that video reviews are a great equalizer.
That’s a good thing when you’re as upset as Phillip Fulmer was Tuesday afternoon.
Fulmer didn’t make a full retraction after Thursday’s practice, but he was pleased to announce that Tuesday wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t good, though.
“I looked back at the tape, and we weren’t quite as bad as I thought ... which is usually the case,” Fulmer said.
Fulmer said 142 scrimmage snaps Saturday resulted in “a bunch of sore guys” Tuesday.
“But I didn’t think they finished as well as they should have,” he added. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it still wasn’t where we wanted to be.”
Thursday was more typical, at least according to Fulmer’s reaction. The Vols held a brief workout in shoulder pads and shorts in preparation for Saturday’s Orange and White game.
“For us to be a good team, we’ve got to be consistent, and we’ve got to be really good in the offensive front and the defensive front,” Fulmer said. “That’s kind of where is starts, and that’s where I was the most disappointed on Tuesday. But we were better today.”
Saturday’s setup will be similar to last season. The Vols will split into offensive and defensive teams, with the first team generally lining up against the second team. The later moments, as usual, will feature deep reserves facing deep reserves.
“As we go along, we’ll be able to take a Jon Crompton out of the game, or Eric Berry out of the game — guys that have proven themselves in the league,” Fulmer said.
Redshirted freshman Ahmad Paige was named one of UT’s two most improved offensive players this spring, but first-year wideouts coach Latrell Scott said he’s generally been happy with his entire group.
“I think we’ve established a good relationship,” Scott said. “I think these guys were well coached when I got here, and what I’ve done is basically install some of the things we do and do things the way that I teach them. I just want these guys to be technical, fundamentally sound and play fast. I think if that stuff carries over to the SEC season, we’ll be good to go.”
Rising All-SEC senior Lucas Taylor sat out every contact drill this spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, and fellow starter Austin Rogers has missed the past two weeks with a knee injury. Both should open preseason camp 100 percent.
“We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve got enough talent in this group to get where we want to go,” Scott said.
Alaskan to walk on
One of UT’s few guaranteed walk-on spots for 2008 has been given to a Vols fan in Alaska.
Tailback Michael Odell from Kodiak High School has accepted a guaranteed walk-on position to his “dream school,” according to the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
Odell, the leading rusher in Kodiak High history and a five-sport letterwinner, told the Daily Mirror that he’s been a UT fan since watching his first college game: the Vols’ national championship game victory over Florida State in January 1999.
“This has been a dream for a long time,” Odell told the newspaper. “For it to feel like it is coming into effect, it’s like a dream come true.”
Odell visited Knoxville for the Vols’ 2006 home victory over Alabama, and he returned for football camp last summer. Fulmer publicly noted Odell’s attendance on the camp’s first day. His green-dyed hair from the Alaska state track meet didn’t help him blend in, either.
Odell told the Daily Mirror that UT coaches rubbed his hair for good luck, but fortune went the player’s way. He reportedly ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at the camp.
Some smaller colleges offered Odell a football scholarship, and NCAA Division II power Chadron State offered him an academic scholarship and a guaranteed walk-on position.
UT officials said defensive end Shane Bonham is the program’s only other known player from Alaska. The Fairbanks native transferred from the Air Force Academy and played in the NFL after finishing his college career in 1993.