Gut check

Most receivers spend pre-game warm-ups tossing a football; Tennessee's Robert Meachem spends the time tossing his cookies. Puking his guts out seems to be working, though. Heading into tonight's game at Georgia, Meachem is leading the NCAA with 577 receiving yards.

Asked if he ever knew of anyone else with Meachem's peculiar pre-game ritual, Tennessee's receivers coach nodded.

"Yeah, myself," said Trooper Taylor, who played his college ball at Baylor. "I used to be the same way … nervous before games. Anytime you're a guy who's going out there to compete, you can be a little nervous.

"I don't think it has anything to do with him being scared of an opponent. I think he just wants to go do his very best, and sometimes it gets to him."

Robert Meachem may get sick before a game but the guys trying to cover him usually feel ill once the game commences. Few can cover the 6-3, 220-pound Vol junior, which is why he's averaging a whopping 21.4 yards per catch.

Taylor believes Meachem's terrific work habits have enabled him to emerge as the NCAA's premier pass catcher this fall.

"He practices the same way that he plays," the Vol aide said. "At the end of practice he's spent because he has one gear, and that's fast. Whether he's playing special teams, running a route or trying to block, he's going to go full speed."

Counting Jayson Swain's 378 yards, Meachem and his fellow wideout are the most productive receiving duo in college football with 955 combined yards. Taylor isn't surprised by their success.

"We told you guys (media) at the beginning that was the goal … that we were going to try and go out there and make it Wide Receiver U again," the Vol aide said. "I know some people thought I was just talking or they (receivers) were just talking but they've worked at it.

"We felt it was a realistic goal. We talked about where they started at … about none of ‘em being ranked in pre-season … about all the potential they had. All of those were things we wanted to make a difference in, and they're doing it now."

Especially that guy with the world's messiest pre-game ritual.

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