Two weeks before the season opener, Tennessee gets serious today with the last major scrimmage of the preseason.
Instead of the typical three scrimmages, Derek Dooley is cutting back to two this year. One reason is a change in the school calendar. Another is having a more veteran club.
"We've got guys who have a lot of snaps,'' he said Thursday night. "It's more the model we did when I was at LSU and we had a veteran squad.''
Today's scrimmage will focus on a number of situational scenarios, such as end-of-game management.
* Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will get some scrimmage work today, as will safety LaDarrell McNeil. Both were still in a red no-contact jersey Thursday.
Tight end Mychal Rivera (knee) will be held out but should return to full contact Monday. Middle linebacker Herman Lathers won't scrimmage due to various nicks.
Dooley said the defense misses Lathers when he's not on the field.
"Herman is what you want at Mike (linebacker) because he's got a real good understanding and he's got real good verbal skills,'' Dooley said. "So that hurts us.
"That's one of my biggest concerns, inside linebacker. You've got A.J. (Johnson) and then you're forced to start moving guys. (Outside backer) Curt (Maggitt) played behind the ball last year so it's not foreign to him but you hope you don't have to go down that path.''
* Sophomore tailback Marlin Lane hasn't had a bad camp, Dooley said. Rather, Rajion Neal and Devrin Young have been that good to move ahead of him.
"Nobody is disappointed in Marlin,'' Dooley said.
Lane could win favor today by breaking a long run and showing that he's dependable in pass protection.
* True freshman Justin King is paying a price for being versatile. He's getting the kitchen sink thrown at him — four special-teams units, fullback, tight end and a little Wildcat package.
"The poor guy is swimming,'' Dooley said. "Every coach is yelling at him and it's not his fault.
"We've got to try to figure out where to lock him in to help us. That's what happens to these big versatile guys, these big body types who can do a lot of things.''