The Tennessee football team returned to Haslam Field for a shorter-than-normal Monday workout after defeating Ohio 34-23 last week. Head coach Lane Kiffin and the UT coaching staff elected to do the majority of the day’s work in the film room.
A likely reason for the extended film session is the Vols treacherous schedule in the month of October along with the recent rash of injuries to key players. The Vols will take on four Southeastern Conference opponents between Saturday and Halloween night, and they will do so while trying to sort out personnel issues on both offense and defense.
The Vols are banged up on both the offensive and defensive lines, at wide receiver and at linebacker. Most notable among those issues is the loss of senior middle linebacker and team captain Nick Reveiz for the season with a knee injury.
“We’re going to have to do a great job with whoever ends up playing there,” Kiffin said of filling the hole left by Reveiz. “We've seen the difference when he’s not been in there, and that can't happen anymore. It happened in the opener. As soon as he came out, they (Western Kentucky) went right down the field. There was obviously a difference Saturday (vs. Ohio) when he wasn't in there.
“We need guys to step up; we’re looking at a number of guys at different spots.”
The loss of Reveiz and other injuries will test the Vols on one of their head coach’s most common talking points throughout fall camp and the 2009 season: every player must practice and prepare like a starter no matter where his name appears on the depth chart.
“As you saw Saturday, it’s so imperative for your backups to get mental reps and be ready to play,” Kiffin said.
“It’s so important for our guys to maximize their reps. We try to tell them that the first day they get here all the way through training camp, because they never know what’s going to happen. They never know when they’re going to be in a big-time game having to make plays for us.”
The Vols have four big-time games in the next five weeks, and first up is Auburn, who brings the Southeastern Conference’s top offense and a 4-0 record to Neyland Stadium for a 7:45 ET kickoff on Saturday. The game will be televised by ESPN.
CBS USES SIX-DAY OPTION ON SELECTION OF UT-GEORGIA GAME TIME
The selection of a start time and television listing for Tennessee’s Oct. 10 home game vs. Georgia has been delayed until Oct. 4 or 5. CBS, per its agreement with the Southeastern Conference, exercised a six-day option on the UT-Georgia, Auburn-Arkansas, Alabama-Mississippi and Houston-Mississippi State games.
CBS will air one of those four games in its 3:30 p.m. ET window as a part of a double-header, while the other three games will picked up by the ESPN family of networks and air either at 12 p.m ET on ESPN, 12:21 p.m. on the SEC Network or 12:30 on ESPNU.
The Florida-LSU contest will air at 8 p.m. on CBS. Kentucky vs. South Carolina will air at 12:30 ET on Fox Sports Net and Vanderbilt at Army will air on CBS College Sports at 12 p.m.