What has happened to Justin Hunter?
The Tennessee receiver caught 30 passes through the first four games of the season, but had only three at Georgia and two at Mississippi State.
Both defenses made a concerted efforts to crack down on long pass plays, leaving Tennessee to work on underneath routes and the running game.
"Sometimes those things happen and we don't want them to happen to such a talented football player," Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said of Hunter. "We're going to try to keep that from happening again."
Last week against Mississippi State, Tennessee turned to the run game to build drives and keep the defense off the field, which limited opportunities in the passing game.
"(Justin) wants to catch 10 balls a game," Chaney said. "(Good receivers) get frustrated when they don't catch 10 balls a game, and I want him to be that way. He just has to go out and perform every time on every play."
Another player Tennessee wants to get the ball to is receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has made an impact on end-arounds, reverses and — last week — a straight handoff.
"He seems to be good when you just hand it to him, "Chaney said with a slight smile. "Maybe we should do that.
Coach Derek Dooley is on board.
"(Patterson) has a real special set of skills," Dooley said. "So we're going to keep finding ways to get him the ball. It'd be crazy if we didn't."
Chaney has found few flaws in Alabama's defense, but he said it would be unwise to deviate drastically from what the Vols have done successfully so far this season.
"You put a plan together and you go execute the play," he said. "Ultimately it gets down to man-on-man, can my guy block your guy and can the running backs run with aggression and secure the ball? We aren't going to reinvent the wheel. Let's go play football."
Dooley likely won't decide until Friday or Saturday whether he'll coach the Alabama game from the press box or the field, but he remains "probable" to watch from upstairs.
"I want to and I am going to do everything that I can to be (on the sidelines), but at the end of the day, we tell our players that they have to listen to the doctor, so I wouldn't be a good example if I didn't," he said.
Freshman defensive lineman Omari Phillips is not participating in practices for the Vols while he focuses on academics, Dooley said.
Phillips originally signed with Florida but was not admitted to the school. He signed with the Vols in July. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound defensive tackle from Venice, Fla., was ranked a four-star prospect by every major recruiting service.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.