Tennessee faces many challenges

Spring football will begin in less than a month, several key questions are still unanswered around this football team especially in the Volunteers Secondary. Go "Inside" as WNOX's Dave Hooker looks at some of the issues concerning UT this spring.

As a rebuilding program, Tennessee will face many challenges when spring practice begins next month.

None will be more daunting than retooling a shaken up secondary.

First, the Vols will be without their best defensive back, safety Janzen Jackson, who has withdrawn from school to attend to personal matters.

Second, the status of last year's other starting safety, Brent Brewer, is unknown after he was charged with domestic assault.

Lastly, the Vols weren't that good defending the pass anyway, ranking 81st in the nation in 2010.

The Vols certainly saw the issue at hand, signing eight prospects in February who could play defensive back, including two junior college players - Izauea Lanier and Byron Moore - that will be expected to compete for playing time when they arrive on campus this summer.

That, however, won't have much of an impact when UT opens spring practice on March 22. UT's most experienced cornerbacks - Art Evans and Eric Gordon - will be on hand, as will Marsalis Teague, who was impressive last season despite making the move from receiver to defensive back shortly before the season.

Even though the 5-foot-10 Teague may not have the size to play safety, UT's coaches may have to consider it.

"I feel like I can play what I want too," Teague said. "I'm going to play what my coaches need me to play. I'm focused on playing on corner right now and perfecting my skills at corner."

The Vols may also have to rely on some players like Anthony Anderson this spring. Sure, he's had limited experience, but he'll certainly get an opportunity during spring drills.

"There's a big sense of urgency, I feel like I want to set a goal and be a leader on the team," the senior said. "We're going to be competing in everything we do every day. Coach (Derek) Dooley did a great job recruiting this year and I feel like we'll be ready."

For fall perhaps, but spring practice may be a different story.

Off-Season Report: Count Teague among those that has grown fond of newly hired strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery.

"I really like him and I respect him as a coach but also as a man or as a person," Teague said. "He came in hands-on but laid back at the same time."

In The Past:

Anderson said he's moved past the Vols' emotional loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl.

"Yeah actually I just got over it two weeks ago," he said. "I just couldn't believe it. I watched the film over and over and I just couldn't believe it. It was a lesson learned because we had plenty of opportunities to win the game and we should have won the game."

After watching the DVD repeatedly, Anderson said he finally threw it in the trash.

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