Coverage concerns

Tennessee allowed two punt return touchdowns last fall – a 54-yarder by Georgia's Thomas Flowers and a 78-yarder by Notre Dame's Tom Zbikowski – and Vol coverage units could be burned again this fall. Three of the NCAA's top 20 return specialists show up on the Big Orange's 2006 schedule.

Flowers, ranked No. 19 on Collegefootball.com's list of this season's top return men, gets another shot at UT this Oct. 7 in Athens. He ranked second among SEC punt returners last fall with a 13.7-yard average. He returned two punts for 66 yards (33.0 yards per runback) against UT in the 2005 game.

Kentucky's Rafael Little, who led the SEC with a 16.9-yard average on punt returns last season, is rated No. 4 nationally by CFN.com. He returned two punts for 26 yards (13.0 per) and two kickoffs for 34 yards (17.0 per) in last year's game with Tennessee. Little, who had a 99-yard kickoff return vs. Idaho State last fall, gets another chance to test the Vol coverage units this Nov. 25.

Arkansas's Felix Jones is ranked No. 3 among NCAA return men for 2006. He led the SEC in kickoff returns last season with a whopping 31.9-yard average and had a 100-yard runback vs. Mississippi State. Runnerup Draak Davis of Kentucky was a distant second at 25.6 yards per runback. Jones didn't face Tennessee last year but will challenge the Vols' kick coverage unit on Nov. 11 of this year.

Tennessee's top kickoff return man (Lucas Taylor at 22.5 yards per) and punt return specialist (Jonathan Hefney at 11.5 per) did not make the CFN.com list.

InsideTennessee.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Tweets