Tennessee looks for a fresh start

The University of Tennessee has more on the line than just the in state bragging rights when the Volunteers travel west to Memphis Saturday night. Go "Inside" this pre-game preview to get our thoughts on tonights game and just how important a win will be.

MEMPHIS-The University of Tennessee has more on the line than just the in state bragging rights when the Volunteers travel west to Memphis Saturday night.

Tennessee (2-6) is looking for its first road victory under first year head coach Derek Dooley, but more importantly looking to end a four game losing streak and is looking for a fresh start in the month of November.

Memphis (1-7) lone victory this season came against in state Middle Tennessee, a Vol victory in the Liberty Bowl Saturday night would be UT's first step in a two step process to be the best team in the Volunteer State. The Vols will travel to Vanderbilt in two weeks.

Dooley has stressed this week that he and his staff is approaching all four games in the month of November as four season opener type contest.

"I want our team to take one game at the time and play each of these contest like it was their season opener," Dooley said earlier this week. "Put the past behind us and only look forward to the November schedule. That begins Saturday night against Memphis."

It's obvious that the Vols have a lot more to gain by a victory than the home standing Tigers do.

If Tennessee wins their final four games of the season, Dooley will have led his first Volunteer team to a bowl game.

Is that possible?

With Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky as the remaining teams on your schedule, anything is possible.

Dooley wants a fresh start to the Vols season after a four game losing streak in the month of October. That month wasn't kind to Tennessee, with road losses to LSU, Georgia and South Carolina and a home loss to defending National Champions Alabama.

A fresh start is just what the Vols are going to get Saturday night in the Bluff City.

Dooley will start true freshman Tyler Bray at quarterback, but that apparently won't be the only freshman starting at the signal caller position in the Liberty Bowl match up.

Memphis new Head Coach Larry Porter announced this week that freshman Ryan Williams would get the start against the Vols.

Memphis secondary ranks 115 in the nation in pass defense and couldn't be a better game for Bray to start.

Take away senior free safety Marcus Ball, who was suspended indefinitely this week by Porter, the Tigers back end looks very vulnerable.

But the Tigers secondary isn't the only unit missing players for this game. Dooley suspended one time starter Art Evans indefinitely this week over some personal issues the cornerback has been facing.

Evans missing Saturday's contest won't have the affect that Ball's departure will have for Memphis. Evans had been demoted from a starting role in the last couple of weeks and didn't figure deeply in the Vols game plan with the exception from a depth stand point.

As ugly as the schedule was in the month of October, the schedule in November has the looks of a beauty pageant.

Tennessee lone victories this season came in the season opener against in state 1-AA UT Martin and against Conference USA member UAB.

No wonder Dooley wants each game in November to remind his team of season openers.

Dooley was quick to warn media and his team this week not to forget the last time his team was favored this season.

"We were favored against UAB wasn't we," Dooley stated. "Didn't it take three overtimes to get that win. They are from the same conference as these guys are."

Tennessee favored by 19 and a half points are starting more freshmen than any other SEC school and the youth movement continues.

True freshmen James Stone of Nashville is likely to get his first start at the center position against the Tigers.

"Unless we see four fumbled snaps in pre game warm-ups, there is a good chance that Stone will start," Dooley said Wednesday after practice. "He is progressing and has earned a shot."

The young Vols needs a shot of confidence before closing out SEC play with Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

A win will propel the Vols into their homecoming game next week against the Ole Miss Rebels and will keep the Vols Bowl hopes alive.

How important is it for the Vols to make a bowl?

"It's crucial especially considering how young they are," one veteran college coach said. "To get those extra practices in December will be very beneficial for all those freshmen."

Step one of bowl eligibility, is to defeat the Memphis Tigers Saturday night in the Liberty Bowl.

Stay tuned.


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