Vols turn to young WRs to replace injured seniors

Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers makes his way onto Haslam Field for practice.

Photo by Saul Young

Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers makes his way onto Haslam Field for practice.

UT's Stephaun Raines chases Zach Rogers during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010.

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UT's Stephaun Raines chases Zach Rogers during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's young wide receivers are going to have quickly learn on the job.

With seniors Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore nursing injuries, sophomore Zach Rogers and true freshmen Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter will see plenty of playing time against seventh-ranked Oregon

"It's not a question of, 'Are they ready?' They better be ready," quarterback Matt Simms said. "It's going to be tough on them. There's going to be a lot asked of them."

Moore shed his walking boot and practiced for the first time Wednesday, but coach Derek Dooley said he wasn't sure yet how much the Tatum, Texas, native would be able to play against the Ducks (1-0). Jones is recovering from surgery on a broken bone in his left hand.

That means the young receivers will need to fill in for a pair of receivers who have a combined 162 catches and 1,289 yards between them. Jones has led the team in receiving for two seasons, while Moore's seven touchdowns in 2009 led the Vols (1-0).

By comparison, Zach Rogers has four career catches for 26 yards, and Da'Rick Rogers made his first reception, a 9-yard catch, last week in Tennessee's 50-0 win over Tennessee-Martin. Hunter played in last weeks' game, but didn't catch a pass.

"They didn't really have a lot of opportunity," coach Derek Dooley said. "Da'Rick caught a pass, which is always good to get that first one under your belt. He looked calm and it seemed very simple, but he looked good doing it."

He'll have to do more than just look good catching passes. The young receivers are also tasked with blocking on running plays, something they likely didn't do much of at the high school level.

So far, they've appeared willing to do so, Dooley said.

"The first thing you have to do as wideout is a willingness to want to block," he said. "When you come out of high school and you think wide receiver, you think, 'Throw me the ball and let me make some plays.' But understanding the importance of (blocking) as it relates to the team's success is the first hurdle, and I think we've cleared that with all our young guys."

Zach Rogers, who will fill in at Jones' spot, has caught the coach's eyes with his hard work, speed, good hands and willingness to block. Now the soft-spoken 6-foot Nashville native is working on his leadership skills a bit too.

"I kind of like to be in the shadows," Rogers said. I'm not a very outgoing guy. I've tried to step up this year. I was a little quiet and intimidated coming around these guys last year, and not being sure what to do. But I'm trying to step out of it this year and be a leader for those young guys."

The inexperience goes well beyond wide receiver. Simms, tailback Tauren Poole and at least four offensive linemen will be making their second career start Saturday.

That doesn't make the Vols any less dangerous, according to Oregon coach Chip Kelley.

"They're very athletic," Kelly said. "Both running backs, Poole and (David) Oku, are really, really tough competitors. I have always thought (Simms) was a tremendous quarterback. Really played well in his opener. They're big on the offensive line. We expect a battle."

For his part, Simms refuses to let the receivers head into Saturday without a little extra drilling. He's not worried about his timing with the new receivers, but he has been spending a little extra time during practice lining everyone up and going over plays.

"Probably the biggest concern is making sure everyone's aligned right and knowing what to do on every play. That's going to be most crucial for guys like Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, who haven't had a whole lot of experience out there in a game situation to keep their cool and do the right things when 100,000 people are watching."

___

AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson in Eugene, Ore., contributed to this story.

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Comments » 90

TKO writes:

Baptism by firs....GBO

armyvol22 writes:

They better be ready to play some football.
Go Vols!

Mule_Days_King writes:

Didn't they run practically the same article on Monday morning?
What's next? A story on how fast Oregon is?

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

Didn't they run practically the same article on Monday morning?
What's next? A story on how fast Oregon is?

shut up.

TommyJack writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

shut up.

He's right, kegler.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

shut up.

Gee, sorry I pi**ed in your coffee this morning by stating an opinion.
Hope your day is gets better.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did Mr Hammond steal your candy when you were a kid?

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

It's not a question of, 'Are they ready?' They better be ready," quarterback Matt Simms said. "It's going to be tough on them. There's going to be a lot asked of them."

But hey, no pressure here guys.

utfan36 writes:

i think our young wr will do well. tn has great talant at wr darick was a 5 star recruit and every body wanted him.

Volnationky writes:

What has happened with Matt Milton, he looked pretty good in the orange/white game?

boroviathaochvolsfan writes:

Come on young men we need over the course of this season this will be a great way to start!!! Lets get it on!!

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

in response to TKO:

Baptism by firs....GBO

Hey, TKO, shouldn't that be "baptism by far"? After all, this is E. Tn. I one time heard an argument supporting the birth of Jesus in E. Tn. because those wise men had just come from a "far." Before I start a "far" of protest, just kiddin' everybody.

vol88 writes:

in response to volfaninbuckeyeland:

Hey, TKO, shouldn't that be "baptism by far"? After all, this is E. Tn. I one time heard an argument supporting the birth of Jesus in E. Tn. because those wise men had just come from a "far." Before I start a "far" of protest, just kiddin' everybody.

That's funny.

Maybe Poole will run far far touchdowns in the first quarter and it will be 28-0.

(Actually, I'm still laughing at that Oregon dufus who didn't know what 'corn from a jar' meant over on another story.)

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Time to show why they were so highly touted by the services! Make us proud, young guns! GBO!!

Vol86 writes:

Moore will play some. The young wr are so talented, we just need to play mistake free football on both sides. This could be a good game. We will turn some heads. One good bounce in fourth and we could grab a win.

tomatosoup writes:

Hey, like I said last week....If our wide receivers eat plenty of tomatosoup between now and Saturday night, we'll be just fine! It's time for the hounds to hollar' and show everyone Tennessee is no JOKE!

41_14gbo writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

To be in this game we will have to be balanced offensively for sure, we will need the ball to bounce our way several times during the game. Expecting a new QB and 1st and 2nd year WRs to develop instance chemistry is a lot to ask. I do believe if we can give Simms a tad more time, with D. Rogers and Justin Hunter' leaping ability and Z. Rogers speed we can stretch the field a bit for Poole, Oku and Neal.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

so who is this guy you hatin on?--no one we know, dumba---

Weatherman writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How many National Championship trophies does your team have, for that matter, your division? Oh, that must stink, sorry...go home now. A storm is brewing in TN. GBO!

41_14gbo writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As much as I hate to sit in it, a hot humid night wouldn't hurt the Vols either.

hikerdude writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There is a reason. GA and AL had quarterbacks who could get them the ball.

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Spec, Before you start quacking your bill over Oregon's accomplishments in the Pac 10 (and I do sincerely congratulate them on those accomplishments), try competing in a conference that adds a championship game at the end of its regular season schedule. I live in Big 10 country, and it was not that long ago that the Big 10 commish maintained that the Big 10 would never have a championship game as long as he was in office. His reasoning: such a game presented the very risky occasion to eliminate one or both of his teams from the BCS championship. The SEC, on the other hand, pioneered the conference championship, and in the process, seemingly established a stepping-stone game to the BCS championship. Before you start looking down your bill at UT's accomplishments, you might just want to try competing in that division some time. Then, I might be willing to listen to your argument.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agree RR.

But I think that no huddle wont be as effective when Rocky Top is Rock'n.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BINGO Rich! That's why we signed these talented WRs. IMO, today is not like the old days in playing Freshmen, they are bigger, quicker, have more speed and talent than days long ago!

Freshmen playing is no big deal anymore.

BIG ORANGE, be focused, play hard for 4 quarters, think and do your job, WE WILL BE OK!

LETS GET IT UP VOLNATION, SHOW UP AND BE LOUD! Rain, only affects weenies!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

cloudodust writes:

They came to Tennessee to play, not sit. Like the OL of last week, our future once again is revealed to us of the Volunteer Nation this coming Saturday at the WR spots. Don't be surprised if there is another twist of a player or two in various aspects this coming Saturday due to an injury. I've heard rumors but can not confirm... GBO

FWBVol writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seeing how the Puke 10 hasn't had divisions and a conference championship game...late to the party as always...won could say that sharing the conference title is the equal of winning your division, but you had no way of proving that you were really champs.

cloudodust writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Is this another attempt at humor regarding Hostessgate..?

utfan36 writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what kind of drugs are on man!

NO_DIGGITY writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dang Gomer (Gatorzz), how many Screen names do you have now? Getting back to your real team, do you think Pouncey can snap it to the dude that replaced Tebow the Moil without 8 fumbles this week? Hopefully you can have more than 40 yards of total offense in the 4th QTR against South Florida. Semper Fi

SpiralBound writes:

Is it just me or do Da'Rick's forearms look as big around as a bicep? Our strength and conditioning coach must REALLY be doing a good job.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to VOODOOley:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pizz-poor attempt at humor.

ala20 writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All Time Winningest Teams As of 11/21/2009
1.Michigan – 877
2.Texas – 843
3.Notre Dame – 837
4.Nebraska – 825 5.Ohio State – 818
6.T – Penn State – 810
7.T – Alabama – 810
8.Oklahoma – 797
9.Tennessee – 782
10.USC – 773

9th in all time wins ahead of USC. I'd say that's pretty rich tradition.

UTbassdrummer writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

3 conference championships that you won OR SHARED. Scratch out that lame a$s west-coast sharing non-sense and where does that leave you?

Look, you've made no case for your team, honestly. You've turned a few people here sour towards a program that is normally pretty likable, despite mostly being irrelevant to the national title scene, historically.
You're making yourself and your team look conceited, based on some slim, new-money accomplishments (or SHARED accomplishments) and all you seem to be able to say is "our team is fast." We got it.

Unless you have anything substantial to offer, regarding why you're so sure saturday is going to be a thrashing, please just show up and see. And when we're through with your pac-10 wonderboys, we'll go and beat the stuffing out of your former quarterback, since you like to share so much.

ugh.

ala20 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, that should be right.

monsterman writes:

I am excited to see them hit the field as well.... If they are really players..... they will make plays. If they are just high star recruits who really don't have it we will find out.... at least not a conference opponent; however, we definitely want to win.

akwelker writes:

I'm willing to venture a guess that Quacktacular, along with his other Duck fans, wear jorts. Terrible, just terrible. Who's with me?

abnermc writes:

in response to DC_BackByPopularDemand:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

According to us who know! BTW , your team is known as "long snapper U".

wigmeister writes:

That is why we recruited them and why they came here. Hopefully they are as good as we thought. Play well guys!

CroKev writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe you should look at who comprises those "6 SEC teams." As I recall Florida (heard of them?) won the NC twice in the last 4 years. We narrowly lost to LSU in the SEC championship game a few years back and what happened to them? Oh yeah, they won the NC. Currently 3 of the SEC East teams are ranked and 4 of the SEC West teams are ranked (btw, one of them is #1 and defending NC). Thus, 7 SEC teams are ranked compared with 3 PAC-10 teams being ranked (Stanford just made it at #25).

What you have to be concerned with, my friend, is what if UT wins. Granted we're down this year - most services pick us just above cellar-dweller Vandy (Sorry VandyGrad!), whereas you all are the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-10. Yes, we're a hurting team right now but just what if,... again, just what if we pull out a victory? It's not like you will have been beaten by the cream of the SEC crop this year. The mighty Pac-10 leader will have lost to an SEC cellar team (a situation most of us believe will be remedied soon). Enjoy your sleepless nights ahead! GBO!

Vol_in_VA writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First, you make a comment about a "storied football program rich in tradition" based on only a 10-year span? Really? Really!? I thought non-Southern colleges were more about academics than athletics. I guess that isn't so true, after all.

Second, no, it is not more impressive to win the PAC10 three times in the last decade than it is to win a 6 team SEC division 3 times in the last decade. The SEC has been the dominant conference in college football in almost the entirety of its history (don't let the old media fool you on that). SEC teams have never been media darlings like the 1 or 2 schools in other conferences. And they always beat each other throughout the season, making their records appear worse than the 1 or 2 schools in other conferences that play no tough opponents. It's always been that way. It's just that now with the BCS, which forces a little bit less favoritism in rankings and bowl game placements, it's hard for all the other media darling conferences to escape the truth. So yes, winning an SEC division is much better than winning any other conference in the nation. The SEC championship is basically the national championship nearly every year. End of story. The BCS national championship is just an exhibition game for the real national championship team (whichever SEC team that happens to be there any given year, most of the time).

Third, you don't really expect anybody to argue with you about the success of Tennessee over the past decade, do you? It's not like anybody here is fooling themselves over our current down period. Still, it speaks volumes when a team that competes in the SEC has one of its worst decades in its history simply because it has a few .500, or only 1 game under, seasons. And even then it still manages to pull out some division titles.

gnm53108 writes:

I hope Mat and Luke practiced atleast one day,sun up to sun down,on just throwing and catching.Our wr can catch Mat thrown balls and Luke can catch Tyler's.

We're gonna have to have them develop some chemistry....NOW.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First of all, it is by no means a "given" that the Ducks have "much better team speed". Second, while it may be true that you will get some quick scores, the flip side of that, as several posters have already pointed out, is that your defense will have to get back out on the field quicker. My prediction is that your defense will have a good view of our O-linemen's cleats as the game goes on. It is an axiom of football that it requires more energy to play defense than it does offense. So suppose that the Ducks do score on a couple of three-play, one-minute drives; what if those are followed by a couple of 12-play, six-minute Vol drives? Whose defense will be tireder after that exchange? Worse, what if the Ducks have a turnover or a three-and-out on some of those drives? See where I'm going with this? Think the possibility hasn't occurred to some of your coaches? I know it has to ours!

jack_2222#231746 writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How'd Oregon do in the PAC10 playoffs? Oh, that's right- no playoff. So those "tied" PAC10 titles don't mean doink.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to vol88:

That's funny.

Maybe Poole will run far far touchdowns in the first quarter and it will be 28-0.

(Actually, I'm still laughing at that Oregon dufus who didn't know what 'corn from a jar' meant over on another story.)

I laughed about that too. But you can bet he knows what weed is.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to RichieRich:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Rich I have the feeling that Spec is really Z. And even if he isn't Spec is only one fan with a big mouth. I know a few Or. fans and most are great sports and not Sh.. Slingers.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to myfuzzyvolz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That post is so wrong but I laughed pretty good nontheless.

orangeman1 writes:

Specquakular is just trying to ruffle feathers. Unless he's a total moran he couldnt even believe what he's writing. Anyone who is a fan of a team that brings up tradition , but only counts from 1990's to present is a moran. Oregon was only ranked twice before the 90's and only 11 times in school history. What a joke. UT has been ranked more times since 1995 then Oregon has in school history. Never won a National Title. Always known as second fiddle(if that) to USC and has a Duck as a mascot. LOL. If you had any class you would be excited and respectful about a program with as much tradition as UT. Wait, you arent Kiffin are you?

dynasty101 writes:

in response to specquackular:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Last 4 National Championships?? Teams don't win it all by playing scrubs all year(see ohio state)

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

Didn't they run practically the same article on Monday morning?
What's next? A story on how fast Oregon is?

Ditto.

TommyJack writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You continue to make an azz of yourself.

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