Offense well aware of Buffalo's No. 46

Ja'Wuan James prepares for Buffalo's Khalil Mack

Say his name to a Tennessee football player and you won't get much of a response, but mention Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack's number — 46 — and the compliments come in droves.

The Vols aren't exactly on a first- or last-name basis with Mack, but they're well aware of how dangerous he's been on a Buffalo defense that hasn't been all that bad this season.

"He's a hard worker," offensive tackle Ju'Wuan James said. "Everybody here compares him to Jacques Smith. Coach (Derek) Dooley said he's a guy that's on the wrong team.

"He's a really good guy. He's really good and he plays hard and he's the motor of their team."

Through four games, two of which came against Big East foes Pittsburgh and Connecticut, Mack has racked up 31 tackles, nine of which were for a loss, three sacks, nine quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and an interception. Mack, who has been tabbed as a candidate for All-American and Butkus Award consideration by Buffalo's media relations staff, is just a sophomore.

"We're all at Division I schools and are on scholarship," James said. "Everyone has talent out here."

The Bulls (1-3, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) have just one win, a 35-7 romp over Stony Brook of the Football Championship Series, but they've kept the margin respectable in every game. It's a credit to a defense that won't provide UT with inferior competition, Dooley said.

"It starts with a very physical defense," Dooley said. "They've just been outstanding against the run, and one of the reasons is they have an elite (defender), No. 46, and he's as good as anybody we play.

"The production he's had in (four) games, he's a train-wreck on offense. We've got to make sure he doesn't disrupt the game."

For a UT offense that will be making its official debut Saturday (TV: CSS, 12:30 p.m.) without star receiver Justin Hunter, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, there's no room to take even a team like the perpetually woeful Bulls lightly. The Vols (2-1, 0-1 SEC) will be not only trying to work the kinks out in their passing game, but also will be looking to improve a rushing attack that ranks last in the SEC and is near the bottom nationally.

Asked what concerned him most with Buffalo's defense, quarterback Tyler Bray didn't have any names. Just a number.

"They've got No. 46," Bray said. "We've got to try to block him. He disrupts things, so if we block him we should be fine."

Fill-in Fodder: Since the midway point of last season, James has lined up next to right guard Zach Fulton pretty much every day.

That changed at last week's practices, as Fulton rested a nagging foot injury. Redshirt sophomore JerQuari Schofield was the first man off the bench behind Fulton, who has been back at full strength and with the first-team linemen this week.

Freshmen Marcus Jackson and Antonio Richardson also received a large number of snaps with the first-team last week because of similar, nagging injuries hampering left tackle Dallas Thomas and left guard Alex Bullard.

Even though the chemistry might not have been in sync at all times, James liked what he saw.

"They did a good job of stepping up," James said. "JerQuari's been here a while, Marcus too in the spring. But, they did a good job when Zach and Dallas went down and just keeping the tempo up and competing."

Happy Camper: Dooley said the Vols had a "good, spirited practice" with "a lot of energy" Tuesday.

It was certainly nothing like last Tuesday's, when Dooley could be heard screaming at his players from outside the gates of Haslam Field and then refused to talk to reporters.

"Now we got sort of two Thursdays to kind of polish up the game plan," Dooley said. "I hope we will come out fresh and ready to go Saturday."

The Vols remain largely injury-free, as linebacker Herman Lathers (ankle) and wide receiver Naz Oliver (wrist) were the only two players working on the side during the open portion of practice. Linebacker Raiques Crump appeared to be limited, but was still with his group during individual drills.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 23

WhitePineVol77 writes:

Please win this game and do not look ahead to GA.
Time for our future players to step up and begin to mesh.
Vols 35, Buffalo 17

vol64 writes:

What's the status of Ben Martin? Has he recovered from his injury, and is he scheduled to play this weekend?

beaus27 writes:

I want to know, what is status of Devrin Young?
Will this be his break-out game?
UT 52-Buff 13

1963VOLS writes:

in response to WhitePineVol77:

Please win this game and do not look ahead to GA.
Time for our future players to step up and begin to mesh.
Vols 35, Buffalo 17

oh no 63-0

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

Let's not look ahead and take Buffalo lightly but let's not try to make this anything other than what it is- a tune-up game and a fundraiser. Being a resident of the Tarheel State, nothing would have made me happier than playing a home and away against the Tarholes. I still get nauseated when I think of the game that we squandered away last Dec. Nothing would taste better than the sweet taste of redemption but looks like all we'll be tasting is the icing off of this cupcake. Nevertheless, let's work on the rungame and substituting(not replacing) the absence of Hunter. Tune the engine Coach Dooley because the rest of October is going to require some considerable horsepower. 2-2 would not be a bad Oct. record. GO VOLS!

voloffaith writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Momma said.......never mind not going to waste her wisdom on sour grapes.......

On topic,#46 will be Dooley noted y'all

Halls3 writes:

I expect UT to win but not cover the spread of 28 points. I think UT will win this one 34-10. I am willing to say Buffalo is probably worse than Montana but without Hunter I just don't see UT putting up a ton of points. I think they will try harder to work the run game & hopefully throw in some screens to get Poole going. Plus, I don't see the starters staying in for an extended period of time with the schedule coming up. Why get Da'Rick or Tyler hurt trying to run up the score.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

SpongeBob, and Vols,

A-men to that ! Consider the source, my friend.

SCVFL writes:

The more experience the freshman get, the better off we will be. Coach Double D knows this. And the more competition you have for position the better the good players get.
VOLS 30
Buf 9
Not as high a score because we will be working on the run game and blocking.
GOOOOOO! VOLS

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to WhitePineVol77:

Please win this game and do not look ahead to GA.
Time for our future players to step up and begin to mesh.
Vols 35, Buffalo 17

You think Buffalo will score 17 on us? lulz

Buffalo is, well, Buffalo. UT 44, Buffys 10.

And their TD comes against our 2nd and 2 1/2 string (since we technically don't have enough depth for a full 3rd string) :)

stovepipedrinker writes:

in response to beaus27:

I want to know, what is status of Devrin Young?
Will this be his break-out game?
UT 52-Buff 13

Looking forward to seeing "19" run around and past Vol opponents.

sizeDD writes:

in response to Halls3:

I expect UT to win but not cover the spread of 28 points. I think UT will win this one 34-10. I am willing to say Buffalo is probably worse than Montana but without Hunter I just don't see UT putting up a ton of points. I think they will try harder to work the run game & hopefully throw in some screens to get Poole going. Plus, I don't see the starters staying in for an extended period of time with the schedule coming up. Why get Da'Rick or Tyler hurt trying to run up the score.

Youth typically scares me so I have been slow to fully embrace the fact that Tyler Bray is special. No more, Bray is special and the Vols still have capable receivers so scoring should not be a problem. Receivers were open, when not being held, all over the place against FL. I'm expecting another 40+ day from the offence.

sizeDD writes:

in response to sizeDD:

Youth typically scares me so I have been slow to fully embrace the fact that Tyler Bray is special. No more, Bray is special and the Vols still have capable receivers so scoring should not be a problem. Receivers were open, when not being held, all over the place against FL. I'm expecting another 40+ day from the offence.

*offense

Volunatic writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll take this September over the '08 September:
27- 24 loss to UCLA (who went 4-8)
35 -3 win over UAB (who went 4-8)
30- 6 loss to uf (who were 13-1 Nat'l champs)
14-12 loss to Auburn (who went 5-7)

1-3, with two losses coming against teams with losing records.
Incidentally, UT's first game in October '08 was a 13-9 win over NIU, a team that Derek Dooley's LA Tech team beat by a larger margin that same year.

Volunatic writes:

in response to sizeDD:

*offense

Good. Before the correction, we were worried that you were from England or something.
(Good post, btw, and funny posting moniker too.)

sizeDD writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Good. Before the correction, we were worried that you were from England or something.
(Good post, btw, and funny posting moniker too.)

oops moment

sizeDD writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I'll take this September over the '08 September:
27- 24 loss to UCLA (who went 4-8)
35 -3 win over UAB (who went 4-8)
30- 6 loss to uf (who were 13-1 Nat'l champs)
14-12 loss to Auburn (who went 5-7)

1-3, with two losses coming against teams with losing records.
Incidentally, UT's first game in October '08 was a 13-9 win over NIU, a team that Derek Dooley's LA Tech team beat by a larger margin that same year.

'08 was painful

voloffaith writes:

in response to sizeDD:

'08 was painful

As Bob Hope used to say,"thanks for the memories....". Some mean brutal October based on opponents as opposed to the results....See y'all at Rocky Top Saturday if the Good Lord is willin'

Volunatic writes:

in response to voloffaith:

As Bob Hope used to say,"thanks for the memories....". Some mean brutal October based on opponents as opposed to the results....See y'all at Rocky Top Saturday if the Good Lord is willin'

I'll be there. I'll be the loud guy in Section U.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I'll be there. I'll be the loud guy in Section U.

"Kinder..gentler" in S pulling against the Bulls? Buffaloes? I know Buffalo Bulls. I almost said Buffalo Bill from them old western days.....

mj2454#655272 writes:

Hey, CantSpell, write it down, mark it, learn how to spell it. It's "no sense" looking ahead. How pathetic indeed.

voloffaith writes:

in response to CantCompare:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks Sybil....nobody else would go the 'dingy women' route. Say bye bye sayonara for a little while.....y'all come back as usual 'sense' he won't return 'since' he gonna use another poster name.................

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to CantCompare:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No "sense" in him making a prediction because it "can't compare" with these two:
Vols 49 Buffalo 10 and Vols 38 UGA 28

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