Players to watch: Week 2

Each game plan features certain players to perform jobs that could play a pivotal role in winning or losing. See which Volunteers and Bearcats need to bring it on Saturday if their squads want to come out on top.

The Tennessee Volunteers play host to the Cincinnati Bearcats at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Kickoff is Saturday afternoon at 3:36.

The matchup will be the first for the Vols against a Big East Conference foe since defeating Rutgers 35-14 back on Sept. 28, 2002.

If Tennessee is to win its sixth consecutive regular-season game, it will need solid performances from select players. The same can be said for the visitors.

Below is a roster of key members of the respective game plans.


Zach Collaros (redshirt senior, QB)

Collaros is "what makes Cincinnati go" according to Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. The redshirt senior quarterback can make it happen both through the air and on the ground.

In the Cincinnati season opener with Austin Peay, Collaros passed for 134 yards and four touchdowns. He added a five-yard rushing average to go along with his passing stats.

The Tennessee defensive ends will be crucial to keeping Collaros in the pocket and keeping contain. The Cincy quarterback has shown if he is given the edge he can make something out of nothing.

Kenbrell Thompkins (junior, WR)

Tennessee fans may remember Thompkins, who originally singed with Tennessee out of El Camino Community College before the departure of head coach Lane Kiffin.

Thompkins joined the Bearcats for the 2010 campaign and is now a starting wide receiver for the Cincinnati offense. He snagged two catches for 20 yards and a touchdown in the season opener.

Deven Drane (sophomore, CB)

Drane, just a sophomore cornerback, was one of the big surprises of the Bearcats preseason camp. Drane beat out senior and two-year starter Dominique Battle for a starting spot.

The youngster is listed at 5-foot-10, which will give both Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter as considerable size advantage over Drane in the passing game.


Malik Jackson (senior, DT)

Jackson missed practice on Tuesday due to what appeared to be a 24-hour bug because he returned to practice on Wednesday. Jackson's absence was criticized by head coach Derek Dooley following practice.

This seems like classic Dooley motivation. With the spread offense of Cincy, Tennessee's defensive ends will be forced to play contain, which increases the pressure for the defensive tackles to create pressure.

Jackson recorded two tackles and one quarterback hurry in the Vols season opener. Look for Jackson to get after the quarterback in a big way this Saturday.

Rajion Neal (sophomore, RB)

Neal, who sprained his knee in the preseason, didn't see much action in the Vols season opener. Dooley has said, now that he is healthy, Neal will be a much bigger part of the game plan in Week 2.

The sophomore tailback took most of his reps in the preseason at wide receiver. Dooley claimed Neal was one of the fastest players on Tennessee's roster. Look for offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to get him the ball in space and watch him run away from defenders.

Mychal Rivera (redshirt junior, TE)

Rivera had a few chances to snag some balls against Montana that were stolen away by pass interference penalties. Throughout spring practice he has continued to progress his game into that of a starting tight end.

Look for Rivera to have some opportunities in the passing game with Cincy keying on Rogers and Hunter.

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