KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer got a
sneak peek of his team's potential.
The Volunteers (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No.12 AP) improved from the last game they played
in, but Fulmer believes some changes will be needed to make them
"We could have knocked them and should have knocked them out
quicker than we did," Fulmer said.
The Vols were determined to show an improved offense from the
one that sputtered last year to an 8-5 record, which included an
embarrassing 30-3 loss to Maryland in the Peach Bowl.
Tennessee racked up 433 yards of total offense, the most since a
six-overtime win over Arkansas last October, and 274 yards rushing
behind a stronger and healthy offensive line.
But there were some mistakes that could have led to more points.
James Wilhoit missed field goals of 30 and 34 yards, and Richard
Marshall returned an interception 81 yards for a touchdown in the
Awan Diles intercepted another pass by Clausen in the first
quarter, but Fresno State could not convert the turnover into
points. Clausen finished 18-of-31 for 159 yards and did not seem to
play as effectively as in previous games.
Cedric Houston led Tennessee with 161 yards on 19 rushes.
"I think on a couple of runs I should have scored," Houston
James Banks had seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown to
lead the receivers, who were criticized last season for not making
Fresno State was expected to be a formidable opponent
considering the Bulldogs are used to playing teams from BCS
conferences in season openers.
Fresno State, which beat Georgia Tech in last year's Silicon
Valley Bowl, defeated Colorado in the 2001 season opener but lost
to Ohio State in 2000 and Wisconsin last year.
The Bulldogs were not intimidated.
"It could have been 35-42 points if they had not bowed their
necks," Fulmer said. "They played tough when we got down close
(to the end zone)."
Tennessee seemed to have an answer for everything Fresno State
tried on offense, holding it to minus-1 yards rushing and 117 yards
of total offense.
Fresno State's Rodney Davis had a school-record 1,586 yards
rushing last season but was held to 16 yards on 13 carries
"Tennessee controlled the line of scrimmage," Fresno State
coach Pat Hill said. "We had only one of eight offensive linemen
who played in a Division I game. Jeff Grady was throwing off his
heels a lot."
Tennessee scored on its opening drive when Banks caught a short
pass from Clausen across the middle and ran 9 yards for a
The Vols went up 14-0 in the second quarter after Davis got open
up the middle and sped down the field for a 44-yard touchdown run.
Tony Brown went up on tip toes to catch a 5-yard pass from
Clausen in the end zone to put Tennessee ahead 21-0 at the end of
the third quarter.
Wilhoit made up for his misses with a 40-yarder in the fourth
Several players were playing for the first time since last year
following season-ending injuries.
Fresno State's highly touted receiver, Bernard Berrian, was held
to three catches for 28 yards. Meanwhile, Tennessee's Constantin
Ritzmann was credited with a sack, and linebackers Kevin Simon and
Kevin Burnett got in on the other.
Coming off the disappointing season, Tennessee did not sell out
its home opener for the first time since 1974. The attendance was
103,860 in Neyland Stadium, where crowds normally exceed the
104,079 capacity and top 107,000.
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