PREVIEW: First look at the Vols

A refreshed LSU football team returns to action on Saturday as the 13th-ranked Tigers head to Knoxville to face eighth-ranked Tennessee. LSU goes into the Tennessee game coming off an open date, while the Vols posted a 31-24 road win over South Carolina last Saturday.






All-Time Series: Tennessee leads 20-5-3


Stadium: Neyland (104,079)


Conference: SEC


First Meeting: 1925, LSU 0, Tennessee 0


Last Meeting: 2005, Tennessee 30, LSU 27 (OT)


Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer, 135-38 at UT and overall, 14th year


Current Record: 7-1, 3-1 SEC East



2005 in Review: 5-6, 3-5 SEC


Final '05 Ranking: Not ranked


Off. / Def. Systems: Multiple / 4-3


Returning Starters: 13; 6 offense, 5 defense, kicker, punter


Last Bowl Appearance: 2005 Cotton Bowl

                                                Tennessee 38, Texas A&M 7


Last Conference Championship: 1998





Rushing: LaMarcus Coker – 63 rushes, 393 yards, 1 TD


Passing: Erik Ainge – 246-167-8, 2,213 yards, 16 TD


Receiving: Robert Meachem – 45 catches, 868 yards, 6 TD


Tackles: Marvin Mitchell – 69 TT (45S, 24A)





Date                 Opponent                     '05 Result


S-2                  W, 35-18 California     ---


S-9                  W, 31-30 Air Force     ---


S-16                L, 21-20 Florida           L, 16-7


S-23                W, 33-7 Marshall         ---


S-30                W, 41-7 at Memphis    W, 20-16


O-7                  W, 51-33 at Georgia    L, 27-14


O-21                W, 16-13 Alabama      L, 6-3


O-28                W, 34-27 at S.C.         L, 16-15


N-4                  LSU                             W, 30-27 (OT)


N-11                at Arkansas                  ---


N-18                at Vanderbilt                 L, 28-24


N-25                Kentucky                     W, 27-8



Head to Head:


Tennessee WR vs. LSU FS

Robert Meachem vs. LaRon Landry


Tennessee has hung its hat on its running game in recent years. It was customary to see the Vols ranked near the top of rushing totals in not only the SEC but the nation. But they are tossing the ball around quite a bit on Ole' Rocky Top these days and the go-to guy is Robert Meachem. A 6-3, 210-pound junior, Meachem leads the Vols in receptions and receiving yards with 45 catches for 868 yards and six touchdowns. A physical specimen, Meachem could give LSU's corners some problems, but that is where LaRon Landry comes in. The most physical player in the Tigers' secondary, Landry will try and challenge Meachem coming over the middle.



Tennessee K vs. LSU K

James Wilhoit vs. Colt David


Tennessee has been well known for producing excellent kickers. LSU, well, that's another story. However, the Volunteers and Tigers have two of the best in the SEC. James Wilhoit has been a major scoring threat for the Vols this season. Wilhoit is 11-of-13 on field goals and 31-of-32 on extra points. David hasn't had that many opportunities to kick field goals, but he is 4-of-6 on the season with a long of 45 coming in the loss at Florida. David is perfect on extra point tries, converting all 32 tries. If the game should come down to a field goal for either team, both are well equipped to get the job done.



Player to Watch:


Erik Ainge

QB, Junior

6-6, 220

Glencoe HS

Hillsboro, Ore.


What a difference a year makes. In 2005, Erik Ainge was supposed to be the next big thing at the University of Tennessee. After a fine freshman season, Ainge was tabbed the starter heading into the season and was supposed to lead the Vols to the promised land. It didn't happen. Ainge was awful, finishing the year completing just 66 of 145 passes (45.5 percent) for 737 yards and seven touchdowns offset by five interceptions. He was yanked midway through the LSU game and shared time the rest of the season with Rick Clausen. Enter David Cutcliffe. The former Ole Miss head coach replaced Randy Sanders as offensive coordinator, a job he once held in the mid-1990s, and it has made all the difference in the world. Ainge leads the SEC in passing yards per game with 276 and is second behind JaMarcus Russell in passing efficiency. On the year, Ainge has completed 167 of 246 passes for 2,213 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.


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