- Vanderbilt: Taking back Neyland Stadium
- Vols: Looking ahead, but not past
- Vols: The Seniors' final home game
- Coach Fulmer and players on teammate Dan Williams
Tennessee Stat Book
Vanderbilt's offensive line has been around the block once or twice.
Or 151 times.
That's how many combined starts the Commodores' front five has entering Saturday's game against Tennessee.
Vanderbilt has started the same five in all 10 of its games this season.
"Most of them are guys that started or played a lot against us last year," UT defensive coordinator John Chavis said. "I think they got five seniors across the board. They're as well-coached as anyone in the league."
Left tackle Chris Williams has 31 consecutive starts, and right guard Matt Kirchoffer has the fewest total starts with 20.
For comparison, UT has only one player with more than 20 career starts - left guard Anthony Parker (23 ) - since losing left tackle Eric Young for the season to a torn quadriceps tendon during the South Carolina game.
Still, the Vols have not allowed a sack the last two weeks since Chris Scott took over for Young at left tackle and Jacques McClendon moved into a starting role at right guard.
"I think he's got some confidence, but I think quite obviously it's helped him because he played early in the year, played meaningful snaps," UT offensive line coach Greg Adkins said of Scott. "The game has 'slowed down' for him."
And while Tennessee's line doesn't have the starting experience that Vanderbilt's does, it has plenty of versatility.
Adkins made that a priority when he took over as the Vols' line coach for the 2003 season.
"I think it goes back to a couple years ago when I took over, we were going to try to be a lighter, more athletic group," Adkins said. "The more of those (versatile) guys and the more times you're able to do that, the better off you're going to be when things happen with an injury or somebody may not be playing well. To help your football team be the best it can be, you've got to have those guys."
Adkins and the Vols get all five of their starters back next year, as well as key reserves Ramone Johnson and Vladimir Richard.
"Certainly that's a comforting thing," Adkins said, "knowing you'll have all the guys playing meaningful snaps back."
Visitors: Tennessee is expecting two official visitors this weekend: 6-foot-6, 300-pound guard Kenneth Page (Columbia, S.C.) and 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker Austin Johnson (Hickory, N.C.).
Johnson committed to the Vols in September.
UT didn't expect to host any visitors this weekend until Page's schedule allowed.
He is widely considered one of the best offensive line prospects in the Southeast.
T.O.'s, Baby: In its last three games Tennessee has forced nine turnovers, the exact number it did in its previous seven games combined.
"Everyone is just having a lot more confidence going to the ball," linebacker Ryan Karl said.
That certainly includes a maturing secondary, which includes three first-time starters.
Tennessee had five interceptions in its first seven games. In the last three, the Vols have seven picks.
"Our DB's are becoming ball hawks," Karl said.
Teammates: Four Vols will see former high school teammates in Vanderbilt uniforms Saturday.
Only defensive tackle Chase Nelson (Tulsa, Okla.), cornerback Marsalous Johnson (Smyrna) and tight end David Holbert (Brentwood Academy) won't be facing their former prep teammates.
All three are out for the year with injuries.
Steven Jones (Brentwood) is the only one of the four who is healthy for Saturday's game.
Dave Hooker contributed to this report.
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached