Wideout watch

Wideout watch

Tennessee quarterbacks completed 25 of 32 passes for 277 yards and 5 touchdowns last weekend, and the passing attack could get a significant boost this weekend.

Junior receivers Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones could be in the lineup simultaneously for the first time this season.

Moore, who recovered from a foot injury in time to play a few snaps and catch one four-yard pass in the opener vs. Western Kentucky, should be available for much more extensive service in Game 2 vs. UCLA.

Jones, who missed Game 1 due to a high-ankle sprain, continues to increase his practice activities and could make his 2009 debut Saturday against the Bruins.

Noting that UCLA surrendered just 39 rushing yards in last weekend's 33-14 defeat of San Diego State, UT head coach Lane Kiffin said the Vols are "going to need to get our passing game going a lot.

"Hopefully, Gerald Jones will come back this week, Denarius Moore hopefully will be 100 percent healthy, and we can team those two guys with the rest of the guys that made a number of plays last week."

Jones caught a team-high 30 passes last season and projected to be Tennessee's go-to receiver in 2009 before suffering his ankle injury in an Aug. 22 scrimmage. Moore averaged a team-best 24.6 yards per catch last fall and registered four of Tennessee's longest receptions of 2008 - a 63-yarder vs. Kentucky, a 60-yarder vs. Georgia, a 52-yarder vs. Northern Illinois and a 45-yarder vs. Mississippi State.

Moore could've played a bigger role in Game 1 if he'd been needed. Because he didn't get a full week of practice prior to the opener, however, his timing with quarterback Jonathan Crompton was not sharp.

"We didn't want to risk the timing being off, having not thrown to him very much, so we went more with our receivers who had been practicing with Jonathan," Kiffin said. "But it was good to get (Moore) a few reps in there, and we look for him to play a lot more this week, hopefully."

If Jones and Moore are unable to make major contributions this weekend, Tennessee will need its freshman wideouts to play as well as they did last weekend. Marsalis Teague led all receivers with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Nu'keese Richardson chipped in three grabs for 30 yards and Zach Rogers one for 11 yards.

The strong play of the three rookies has significantly improved Tennessee's passing attack.

"It's created a really competitive environment," Kiffin said. "The best players will play, regardless of how old they are or what they've done before. Marsalis was an example of that. He ended up starting the game for us because he performed the best in practice."

Even if Jones is available for Game 2 there's no guarantee he'll start.

"Gerald, at the point he got hurt, was by far our No. 1 receiver," Kiffin said. "But Gerald's going to have to come back and prove it again. Marsalis isn't going to just let him take his spot. It's great to have (that kind of competition). If we can get that at every position someday, then we'll be really good."

InsideTennessee.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Tweets