Originally created 11/17/99

Vols still have plenty of motivation



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The goal this week for No. 7 Tennessee is to forget about last week.

A week ago the Volunteers were caught up in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, the chance to play for a second straight national title -- all sorts of things that didn't have much to do with Arkansas.

The Razorbacks beat them 28-24 last Saturday in Fayetteville, leaving the Vols to decide what they want to make of the rest of their season now that a second straight national title is out of the picture.

"I know our team feels this way: The only way to get the bad taste out of your mouth is to go out and play," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday.

The Vols (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) play in Lexington on Saturday against Kentucky (6-4, 4-3). It will be the 95th meeting between the schools.

The Wildcats are coming off an emotional 19-17 victory over Vanderbilt that made them eligible for a bowl.

Fulmer says the Vols still have plenty of motivation left. Despite the loss to Arkansas, Tennessee remained No. 5 in the BCS rankings released Monday, leaving them eligible for a major bowl.

"I didn't understand it when we were first and I don't understand it when we're fifth. I'm just glad to be where we are," Fulmer said of the BCS rankings.

After a moment of consideration he added: "I take that back. I did understand it when we were first."

"I think our kids realize they have an opportunity there, that a lot of respect has been shown for our program and the schedule we've played and the people we've beat," he said. "Now we have an opportunity to take advantage of this after losing a great opportunity to compete for the national championship. We can't let this opportunity slip away."

Landing the best bowl berth possible isn't the only goal, he said.

"There's a lot to play for out there, but most of all our pride, getting back on the right track," Fulmer said.

He said he talked to the players on Monday about "discipline and execution and our psyche, and how we approach football here at Tennessee and why we've been successful."

He said he believes the players understand. "They want to do that. We just lost our focus (against Arkansas)."

"Really the most important thing is how you handle adversity. You look forward to the next challenge and learn the lessons, whether it be life or football or whatever," he said. "We're disappointed, but I think it's all out of our system."

Fulmer said he did not think the pressure of the national championship chase affected his team.

"I think we got out-inspired," he said. "We played hard. There were some things that happened in that game that are clinic reels as to how we want to do things. At times we played well, but not for 60 minutes, which had been a real trademark of this team.

"We just didn't play our best football, and you have to give Arkansas some of that credit."

After that, Fulmer added: "I'm anxious to talk about Kentucky. I've had enough of Arkansas."