Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer spoke to the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Monday, and most of the questions directed his way were, of course, about Tennessee’s football program. And the Vols’ former head coach and current AD said he’s been happy with the effort he’s seen from the team the last two weeks.
“The last two ballgames, we’ve actually strained a whole lot better, and for the whole game,” Fulmer said according to quotes from GoVols247 on Twitter. “We’re getting there. We’re working through a cultural change.”
The Vols lost 47-21 to Florida at home and 38-12 to No. 2 Georgia on the road over the last two games, but Fulmer and Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt have both said the same thing: Tennessee’s effort wasn’t in doubt in either of those games. Pruitt said after both games that he thought his team’s effort was consistent throughout the game, and Fulmer agreed on Monday.
But just because the effort is there doesn’t mean Fulmer is pleased with the results.
“There’s no moral victories,” Fulmer said of the Vols’ efforts against Georgia. “It’s just putting things together and making it happen. No excuses or anything.
“We obviously can’t beat a good team, or even an average team, if you’re turning it over and not executing like we’ve done. That’s not just the players. That’s everybody’s responsibility.”
Tennessee turned the ball over six times against Florida, and the Gators capitalized big time on those turnovers. The Gators scored 24 of their 47 points off those six UT turnovers, and the Vols gave Florida a short field several times thanks to those giveaways. Tennessee only turned the ball over once against Georgia, but the Bulldogs made the Vols pay and scored a touchdown on that offensive possession.
But despite the turnovers and mistakes, Fulmer likes the direction the football program is going in. And he maintains that getting the football program healthy again will help out all the programs at the university.
When asked if he is attempting to get an indoor track for the track program, Fulmer stated that his focus is on getting football fixed before he tries to talk about spending a lot of money on other programs.
“I’m going to get football fixed. Then there are a lot of conversations we can have when we get that fixed,” Fulmer stated. “My priority is getting football fixed.
“We’ve done everything we can do to this point, that could have been done (to fix football).”
Fulmer once headed up Tennessee’s football program himself, and he led the Vols to their most successful period since Robert Neyland was head coach. But according to Fulmer, his role is now that of an AD, not of a coach. And he intends to keep it that way.
“I can’t coach. It’s not my place. I don’t want to,” Fulmer said. “But to be over there, I can say with certainty that we have us a heck of a football coach.”