Berry not a patch at linebacker

Star safety won't fill void left by injuries; Offense needs work

Lance Thompson has been running low on depth for a while.

But even after adding another of his players to the injury report, the Tennessee linebackers coach isn't going to borrow one from somewhere else to fill the void.

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Particularly not a certain star safety.

"Eric Berry? If you say that publicly, (secondary coach) Willie Mack (Garza) might want to kick my butt," Thompson said. "Eric's great where he is. He makes plenty of plays where he's at, and he helped us a lot Saturday.

"People that know the game saw him helping the young linebackers out, and he's just one of those guys that's just special. He knows the whole package, he can help everybody, but from that perspective, we're not going to move Eric Berry."

The Vols (4-4, 2-3) might not officially make Berry a linebacker, but that doesn't mean they won't move him around to plug some holes in the defense against Memphis on Saturday (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.).

Savion Frazier became the latest middle linebacker to add crutches to his practice equipment after injuring his right knee in the 31-13 win over South Carolina on Saturday, and though his injury doesn't appear to be as serious as the season-ender Nick Reveiz suffered, UT can hardly afford to lose anybody else at the position.

Both Herman Lathers and Greg King figure to have expanded roles this week regardless of any progress for Frazier, and that would keep Berry at his spot in the secondary. But the Vols also could use him closer to the line of scrimmage in the nickel package more often as a stopgap.

"We don't know for sure who's going to be out," UT coach Lane Kiffin said. "(Frazier) initially we thought was going to be longer, and he could even play this week. We'll have a lot more information as we get guys in here (today), but Greg King came in and did a great job, and we'll figure out a way.

"We've got a great staff, and no matter who's gotten hurt they've figured out a way to get guys in there. We'll continue to move Eric Berry around and play more nickel if we need to."

The Vols have shuffled him around the field all season anyway, and even though it might have caused Berry's statistics to dip a bit, it obviously hasn't lessened his impact.

Berry finished with just two tackles and one quarterback hurry in the impressive win over the Gamecocks, but some of his most valuable work can't be measured by his personal numbers. And UT has had no complaints about his production.

"He can be the deep safety, he can be the down safety, he can play the nickel, and on Saturday night he played all three," Thompson said. "Eric Berry is a special cat. He can do anything you ask him to do. He can play corner, he could play the Will linebacker, probably play quarterback if you wanted him to.

"He's special, but (there's) always a plan for him and we put him where we need to put him."

That's not always the same from play to play. But for now, the plan doesn't call for him at linebacker.

No Nu'Keese: The Vols had several other players aside from Frazier nursing injuries. But the most notable absence at practice was freshman Nu'Keese Richardson, who was missing in action during Sunday's workout without much explanation from Kiffin.

"We're dealing with an issue with Nu'Keese, and I'll have some more information on that for you guys next time on Tuesday," he said.

The highly recruited target only played a limited role in the win over the Gamecocks, taking one direct snap and losing a yard on the ground and finishing the game without a catch.

Bumps and Bruises: The Vols anticipated defensive end Chris Walker being able to play against South Carolina, but he pulled himself out of the lineup as he deals with an injured back.

"Even before warmups he came and said, 'Coach, I can't go. I did this one game before where I tried to play and I didn't play well. I don't want to hurt the team being out there and not being able to play well,' " Kiffin said. "Guys stepped up and played well, but we're going to need him."

His status for Memphis likely won't be determined until later in the week, and fellow linemen Gerald Williams and Marlon Walls also are dealing with health issues. Both of them were held out of Sunday's workout. Running back Montario Hardesty practiced but seemed to have his reps limited.

Back to Work: UT's four touchdowns were more than enough to beat a top-25 opponent. But the offensive performance still left a lot to be desired for Kiffin, particularly in the passing game.

"We need guys to step up and play better," he said. "We're just out of rhythm. It's just one guy here, one guy there, then the passing game got out of rhythm. We just weren't very consistent.

"We had a good week of practice, we had done things very consistent in practice, had practiced a number of audible situations - we're screwing up. We've got to get back to basics. It's good sometimes when you play poorly and still win, sometimes that helps you down the road because it gets your focus back and gets you to understand there's a long ways to go."

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Comments » 31

VolFan1012 writes:

Looks like plenty of PT for the freshmen! GBO

VolFan1012 writes:

Overheard from the SEC Main Offices this morning...
"Well boys, our officiating may be a little controversial this year, but you have to remember one thing. At least were not Major League Baseball!!"

VOL03_NC writes:

Only hear say, but other sites are saying they hear NuKeese has left the team. Unhappy with playing time and homesick. I am not so sure I beleive this but does anyone have better more reliable information? Kiffin says he will say more on Tuesday. That does not sound good. NuKeese has made some bad decisons, but he can be groomed just as JC.

joshvols writes:

if you dont want to be here, someone else will gladly take that scholarship. maybe its just one of those freshman deals where he's missing home but will be able to pull out of his funk

JonathanMorris writes:

Nukesse is wading in his leaning decsion to transfer out of Knoxville. Kiffin is giving him time to think about that decision and should have his re-commitment to the team or out of conference transfer to announce Tuesday. I hope he stays and gives the coaches a chance to develop him, but at this point the lack of production is all on him.

newtonrail writes:

in response to JonathanMorris:

Nukesse is wading in his leaning decsion to transfer out of Knoxville. Kiffin is giving him time to think about that decision and should have his re-commitment to the team or out of conference transfer to announce Tuesday. I hope he stays and gives the coaches a chance to develop him, but at this point the lack of production is all on him.

These are some of the same words Kiffin used with DMo before he cut him loose. Sorry, but as I've seen on other threads, he's not that big a loss; except ties to Pahokee High.

Orangeblood13 writes:

well all that fanfare and he gets homesick? I mean its on you to produce and the way he jumped around punts bouncing and getting chased down by linebackers, well kinda puts that in his hands.

Either way, Nuke, this team is heading to the top, would love to have you step up and be apart of it

Punt_Formation_Leaverton writes:

Hope we don't lose Nukeese but obviously he should do what is best for him. He looks like a promising athlete and will no doubt contribute to whatever team he plays for - let's hope it isn't FL

wayoutwill writes:

Nukie is a gone duck,Poole should be getting a chance,he is too good to not get a chance and he is a underclassman that may get gone also,it would be very hard to blame him if he did look for greener pastures and that's gonna hurt next year.I don't know the answer as to what "Kiff" can do,but I've got a feeling that he isn't a favorite player of "Kiff's" for some reason,that's life in the "fast lane"!

paradisetaxi writes:

Give Poole a chance !

gwtvol85 writes:

long_vol, that's an interesting thought on Poole, but I don't know if he'd be able to make the switch halfway through a season. Maybe give him the option in the spring? He would obviously have the speed and talent for the position, but I don't even know if he played defense, much less LB, in high school.

As for Nukeese, I certainly hope he stays and it's for more than the pipeline that the coaches are trying to open in Pahokee. Other Pahohkee players will come regardless. I just hate to see a player, as I have read on other sites, negatively influenced and made fun of by people from his home town who were suppose to be his friends. I know it was a tough decision for him to escape the leech-like clutches of his hometown boys and make the choice that he wanted to make. Now, as for the report that I heard on CSS's Talking Football last night of Nukeese yelling at a coach on the sidelines of the Auburn game, I don't and neither did CSS know if that actually occurred. However, if it did, that plus not getting but one touch vs. South Carolina combined with your homies whispering in your ear about playing time and should have stayed and played for the Gators has got to have the wiring in this young man's head all screwed up. Yes, he has made mistakes on punt returns with straddling the ball like a croquet wicket and he's possibly done some things or said some things that we're not aware of, but instead of being shunned he needs to be mentored into understanding that no one player, not even Eric Berry or Monterio Hardesty, is greater than the team or the program.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

Glad to hear Savion's injury might not be season ending

pms151 writes:

He is just another WANNA BE Pac Man. Cut him loose before he hurts this program. We do not need thugs that actually believe what Lil Wayne sings.

cheeze writes:

Three times on third and short we had the sneek, K called some other play and heaven forbid Cromptom change it. Even pop warner QB's know if the center is uncovered to go for it. Couldn't have been worse than what we got cause we didn't make it the other way.K should really work on stealing Da Rik Rodgers out of Calhoun although The head coach's daddy is on the GA staff. What about the big fullback that was moved to tight end whose brother was one of our best FB's bet he could play LB.

mspatskitchen writes:

let him go. i heard he wouldn't even give himself a mohawk like dan lincoln.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to mspatskitchen:

let him go. i heard he wouldn't even give himself a mohawk like dan lincoln.

Certainly not a devastating loss.Why does this kid think he's going to beat out 3 veteran WR; especially when he can barely run a good route..I held my breath every time he fielded a punt; Thats why Rogan is doing it!!

CoverOrange writes:

Stand up Gerald Williams.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Definitely getting thin at linebacker..We need Frazier on the field and Thompson has played well too..Might be seeing Gerald Williams back at LB..King has played pretty good as a freshman and Askew is on the bench somewhere

PAROLE_tide writes:

Nuke may just be homesick. If he can't tough it out he will be released, just not to any SEC schools. I could see him going to USF or Florida International. Either school he would only set out one season. But only if CLK is ok with it, CLK can dictate witch school he releases him to.

PAROLE_tide writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Definitely getting thin at linebacker..We need Frazier on the field and Thompson has played well too..Might be seeing Gerald Williams back at LB..King has played pretty good as a freshman and Askew is on the bench somewhere

I forgot about Askew, you are right he may have to throw his redshirt away. As far as Williams he has out grown the LB spot. Jeff Luc and Christian Jones have to be looking at how good our defense is playing and see a definate chance for playing time next year. Monte has done a great job with our thin LB depth chart.

TommyJack writes:

in response to PAROLE_tide:

Nuke may just be homesick. If he can't tough it out he will be released, just not to any SEC schools. I could see him going to USF or Florida International. Either school he would only set out one season. But only if CLK is ok with it, CLK can dictate witch school he releases him to.

True. Better yet, CLK may be able to talk some sense into him.

golfballs03 writes:

Nu'Keese is dissappointed in playing time? I'd be surprised if this were the case. He's a true freshman! What does he expect? He's been given more opportunities here than he would have at this point with Florida.

If he's homesick, that's one thing. Freshman year can be tough... hopefully it all works out. Our team is only getting better, and he's got some good potential. (he's only a freshman!)

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to VolFan1012:

Looks like plenty of PT for the freshmen! GBO

I agree. I'd like to see alot of layers who have practiced and worked hard get some PT and game experience this Saturday and against Vanderbilt. They've earned it and we need to develop depth. Besides, we need to rest some starters to keep them healthy and fresh for Ole Miss and Kentucky.

orangeuavol4ever writes:

Please stay Nu'Keese. Your time will come and we need your contribution.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

Nukeese was committed to the gators for a year, then suddenly switches to UT. Now this.

Sounds like this kid blows with the wind and is easily influenced by others.

murrayvol writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Probably just a misunderstanding.

Proper response is to "bite the finger that pokes thee......really hard". Could probably find that somewhere in Mosaic Law.

More to come from Meyer & Slive I'm sure.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

True. Better yet, CLK may be able to talk some sense into him.

If CLK can't, he may be lost to the legions of the senseless.

ExpatVol writes:

Soooooo is Nukeese leaving? Is this confirmed?

AlpharettaVol writes:

This article says Reviez' injury is a career ender. Has this been reported as fact or is this just speculation? I saw a piece on him on the Lane Kiffin Show Sunday that indicated he was working hard to rehab and they indicated that was to get back ready to play again. Anybody have any info on this?

AlpharettaVol writes:

Re-read the article and it said season-ender, not career-ender. Sorry!

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