- Dave Hooker interviews DT coach Dan Brooks
- Dave Hooker interviews WR coach Trooper Taylor
- Dave Hooker interviews QB Erik Ainge
- Dave Hooker interviews TE Chris Brown
- Dave Hooker interviews P Britton Colquitt
- Dave Hooker interviews DE Xavier Mitchell
- Dave Hooker interviews OG Vladimir Richard
- Dave Hooker interviews DT Dan Williams
Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee defensive end Xavier Mitchell shared his mindset with the media on Tuesday as he prepares to defend against Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who is well known for his physical running style.
"Bring it," UT's senior defensive end said. "That's what goes through my mind. I think that's everybody's mindset."
Tebow made a name for himself last season bowling over would-be tacklers in relief of starter Chris Leak.
"He wants to run the ball and that's fine with me," Mitchell said of Tebow. "We thrive on hitting quarterbacks. If he wants to lower his shoulder, we'll lower ours too and bring the hat."
Mitchell said Tebow might have surprised some defenders last year when he attacked defenders instead of protecting himself.
"We know he's not going to slide," Mitchell said, "so that won't be an issue."
Secondary Shake-Up: For the second consecutive week, Tennessee has altered its depth chart to address deficiencies in its secondary.
Last week, the Vols inserted freshman Eric Berry into the starting lineup for senior Jarod Parrish. Now, UT's coaches are using another freshman, Brent Vinson, to provide depth, in response to senior Antonio Gaines season-ending knee injury.
"Antonio Gaines injury left us a little short at cornerback," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Brent spent some time there in fall camp so he'll get a chance to look at playing both ways."
Vinson's practice time will be "balanced" between receiver and defensive back, Fulmer said. Vinson has played wideout in both of UT's games this season.
"He's not 100-percent ready there," Fulmer said. "Secondary, he's taken to that a little more naturally. There's not as much to learn at corner."
It's not as if much de-programming is needed. Vinson has played three years at receiver. He played two years of high school football at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Va., before playing at Hargrave Military Academy last season.
Man With Speed: Austin Rogers knows about stereotypes when it comes to white receivers.
"I know I'm the white guy and people think I'm the possession receiver," the sophomore said.
Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor never fell for such misconceptions. Taylor never doubted Rogers' athletic ability. Toughness was the main concern.
"I told him he drove a better car than me," Taylor said. "I didn't know how hungry he was. He's proven me wrong and he's proven some other people wrong."
Injury Report: Punter Britton Colquitt said his pulled, right quadriceps is still a bit sore but he hopes to be 100 percent by Saturday. The junior said resting the leg and not kicking last week certainly helped his recovery.
"It might nag a little but it won't nag like it did at Cal," Colquitt said. "If it's real sore after Florida, it might be one of those things where I'm not able to practice as much."
Colquitt knows how to deal with nagging injuries. He said he often dealt with a sore hip flexor in high school.
"If it nags, it won't be like a bad nagging thing," he said. "I think I'm past that point."
Colquitt said he's not ruled out returning to attempt field goals and kickoffs.
"It's hard being on the sideline and seeing field position hurt us," Colquitt said referring to UT's short kickoffs this fall.
Tailback Montario Hardesty said he hopes his ankle is 100 percent by Saturday.
"It's improved a lot from California to Southern Miss," the sophomore said. "Hopefully, it'll improve that much this week and I'll be good to go."
Deep Throws: Despite public opinion to the contrary, Taylor said UT hasn't relied solely on short and intermediate routes. Taylor said the Vols have thrown the ball deep (i.e. 20 or more yards) six more times this season than they did at this point last season.
Rogers said the next development for UT's receivers is combining a short route into a long gain.
"We're going to have to take the 5-yard hitches and take them 80 yards for touchdowns like (Robert) Meachem did (last year)," Rogers said.
D-Tack's: Defensive tackle coach Dan Brooks said he expects junior Demonte' Bolden and sophomore Dan Williams will retain their starting spots, although Brooks wouldn't guarantee it.
"There's going to be competition every week all season, I think, with this group," Brooks said.
Williams said he was pleased with his play last week, his first game as a starter in place of senior J.T. Mapu. Williams said his main focus this week is staying in his gap, even though he might be able to make more plays by leaving his assignment.
"It is tempting sometimes," Williams said, "but you have to do what's best for your defense."
Parking It: Left guard Anthony Parker said he's plenty willing to turn over some snaps to UT's second-string interior linemen, as the Vols did last week.
"It definitely helps, being able to rotate guys and give guys a break," Parker said.
Flying Falcon: Some eyebrows were raised when UT's depth chart was released. Former Fulton star Dennis Rogan was listed above highly touted junior college prospect Nevin McKenzie at safety. Fulmer said the two were even and he expected McKenzie to be the nickel back. As for Rogan, he figures to be a factor in UT's secondary soon.
"Dennis is a really fine athlete with a lot of speed," Fulmer said. "We're trying to get him on the field."