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Rocky Top Talking Points: Kentucky Wildcat Wednesday

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  • The Volunteer football team has been naming individual game captains all season.  Now, for the last game of the regular season, they've named "five permanent team captains for the 2006 football season."  Huh? Anyway, they're Justin Harrell, Turk McBride, Marvin Mitchell, Jayson Swain, and Arron Sears.
  • Some of coach Fulmer's media day comments, courtesy of

    This is always a very tough week as you go into the last week of the season and you're getting ready to say "bye" to a group of seniors. We've got 20 young men who will run through the T for the last time and it will be really hard to hug their neck and watch them run through for the last time. This has been a special group of young men who have done a really great job this year of leading the football team.

    We have really focused on trying to end the season as we started. We've had to battle through a number of injuries during the course of the year that have kept us back just a little bit but I was really glad to see us play as well as we did last week. We want to get our groove back and I thought we did that at Vanderbilt last week. Now, we've got to take that and build on it and carry it over to this Kentucky football game and finish well.

    One of the real great things to see and one of the reasons we played so well and got our groove back was Erik Ainge coming back and doing so well, knocking the rust off quickly and practicing well during the week and then playing well. It was good to see him show the toughness, because we really hadn't seen him in that setting at all where he had an injury he had to come back and play with.

    In the game, we did suffer another loss in Jerod Mayo. That's concerning for us from the standpoint of losing another really good player. But at the same time, Rico McCoy in his absence during the Vanderbilt game, and some during the course of the year, played extremely well. It's good to see a young guy get an opportunity and play well for us.

    It's also good to have LaMarcus Coker back closer to 100 percent. It's been a real lift for our team.

    Our total focus, because I know at this time of the year people get distracted talking about bowl games and you've got a little interruption in our week with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything, will be toward improving as a football team during the course of the week and preparing ourselves to play well against Kentucky. The same motto we had at the beginning of the year certainly will apply to this one, and that is "Fired Up, Focused and Prepared." If Monday is any indication, I think this team is on the right track because we started the week really, really well.

    Kentucky is a very, very good team and we'll have to play well to win the game. I think one of the keys to the game will be ball-security. Their defense has struggled at times, but one of the things they have done very well is they have taken care of the ball extremely well and they've been able to take the ball away from opponents. They currently are leading the league in turnover ratio at plus-12, and that certainly is something we will talk to our football team about considerably. So, our discipline, our ball-security and our execution will be key to this football ballgame.

    Kentucky, as well all know, has won the last four ballgames they have played. They've been led by their quarterback, [Andre] Woodson. He is a playmaker, can make all the throws, and a guy who I think does a tremendous job of finding the open receiver. They've done a good job with their screen game, their layoffs, and he has the ability to get the ball down the field because he's got a very, very strong arm. It's a big challenge versus him.

    Rafael Little, their tailback, I think can play for anybody in this league. He's a really good player and I think they do a good job getting him the ball a lot of ways. They have a group of wide receivers who are good players, but [Keenan] Burton being the guy who's gotten a lot of attention as one of the leading wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference. And their offensive line is very solid.

    It's a big challenge for our defensive team that's a little bit on the banged-up side. But we'll have to respond to that challenge, practice well, prepare well and then play well in the ballgame.

    Defensively, Kentucky has struggled some but they've been really good at pressure and getting the ball back for their offense. So, we'll address that during the course of the week and, hopefully, play one of our best games of the year this week as we finish up the regular season.

  • This from The Tennessean:
    Laughing with Ligon: Senior left guard David Ligon said he plans to approach his home finale in a similar way to how he handled last year's home finale with then-senior guard Cody Douglas.

    "At random points in the game, I'd be like, 'That was our last first down with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter' -- something like that," Ligon said.

    "I did that the whole game, and (Douglas) liked it and he laughed and we had a good time. So I think I'll be doing something like that with (senior tackle) Arron (Sears)."

  • John Adams says that former UT offensive coordinator Randy Sanders has done as much for Kentucky QB Andre Woodson as David Cutcliffe has done for Ainge in Orange.  ($)  Woodson threw six TDs and six interceptions last year and completed 57.7% of his passes for 1,644 yards.  This year, he's thrown 27 TDs and seven ints, and he leads the SEC in passing yards per game, total offense, and TD passes.

    Sometimes the mere fact of a change can work wonders.  More on who deserves credit for the 2006 UT football season later, but I think it needs to be widely distributed.  And congrats to Randy Sanders for his success at Kentucky.  Wish you plenty more -- just not this weekend.

  • The Vol basketball team plays Butler tonight in Madison Square Garden for the NIT Season Tip-Off.  The game will be shown on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. EST.  Chris Low says the team should feel right at home, bringing their New-York-Minute style of play to the City that Never Sleeps.