Tennessee has had holes at all three slots.
The Vols have dealt with bad knees, concussions, back problems and a weightlifting incident.
They've had to move a player to perhaps the most important spot on the defense on the fly and juggle fresh faces around him. But as snakebit as the UT linebackers might appear to be heading into Saturday's game with No. 21 South Carolina (TV: ESPN, 7:45 p.m.), injuries still haven't really done much to limit their effectiveness or wear down position coach Lance Thompson.
"We were thin to start with, but I've been really proud of the guys," Thompson said. "They've been moving around a lot, we moved a guy (Savion Frazier) that had never played Mike linebacker and now he's a three-week-old Mike and he's playing pretty good for us and done a lot of good things. I just say, 'Hey guys, it's just a matter of taking advantage of your opportunities.'
"It is what it is - we have Rico (McCoy) nicked up, so when we lose Rico and Nick Reveiz (torn ACL), now we're playing with a bunch of guys that really had never been in a football game before this year."
The Vols (3-4, 1-3 SEC) have had no choice but to throw them into the fire, and though they haven't been getting burned on the scoreboard, they're typically leaving games with a few marks on them.
Seemingly everybody UT puts on the field at linebacker has had to deal with some sort of injury, and despite dealing with limited depth, that's still been a long list. Strong-side starter LaMarcus Thompson has dealt with a lingering back injury, reserve Greg King went down briefly after suffering a fluke accident in the weight room, Herman Lathers has missed time with concussions and Reveiz is out for the season.
McCoy was added to that list Saturday against Alabama as well, but he made clear it would take more than a sore knee to keep him off the field against the Gamecocks (6-2, 3-2).
"I guess you can say that (it's been bad luck), but it's all about the game, and it happens," McCoy said. Guys get hurt, and it just so happens we've had quite a few guys get hurt at the linebacker position. But I'm in, I'll be out there Saturday and I should be 100 percent.
"I'm going to go, man. I'm going to be out there. I haven't missed a game since I've been playing here that I didn't have to miss. I practiced for the most part (Tuesday), and it's a little sore. I've been going in for rehab and icing it down and stuff like that, so I'm pretty sure I'll be close to, if not 100 percent by Saturday."
At full-strength or not, the Vols certainly will take whatever they can get out of their leading tackler, and McCoy apparently hasn't even considered sitting out.
Frazier and LaMarcus Thompson are both set to go as well, but the trick lately has been trying to get everybody in the middle of the defense through a whole game in one piece.
"(Injuries) are just part of our situation," Lance Thompson said. "These guys are doing a great job, they're working hard and coming in and doing things on their own.
"They get caught up and learn the system and the checks and the things they've got to do, but that's where recruiting is so important. You've got to recruit your depth."
There's no question the coaching staff has been trying to do just that. In the meantime, they're having to test all the talent already here.