The Monday Mailbag

It's that time again. You ask the questions, we answer them, you smile and nod your head.

Is Marquez North at 100 percent following his knee sprain? Is Preston Williams at 100 percent physically? — KodakVol

I always hesitate to put percentages on players because I'm not a doctor and I don't even think I could play one on TV, but luckily for you (and me), Butch Jones did it for us. In Monday's press conference, Jones made it clear Marquez North was back to full strength and is ready to play in the Bowling Green game Saturday.

"Marquez North missed extended time by planting on the grass, running a route and his knee goes out," Jones said. "He is back to full strength and is 100 percent, which will really help us."

Preston Williams wasn't ascribed the 100 percent tag, but he's awfully close. Jones declared Williams in the "mid-90s" in his knee rehabilitation after ACL surgery last winter, and having those two players back and healthy to buttress a receiving corps that has been decimated by injuries and the suspension of Alton Howard for the opener is extremely essential to Tennessee's passing success. The coaching staff will be smart not to overload Williams or even North with more than they can handle, but their insertion back into the depth chart is paramount for the Vols heading into the 2015 season.

What uniform will the Vols roll out for the opener in Nashvegas and is the OU game going to be a checkerboard game or not? — TeeTime

I'm gonna guess Tennessee will open the year in the traditional white helmets, orange tops and white bottoms. It's a classic Tennessee look, and one that will aptly showcase the new Nike digs on national television for the first time.

As for when the checkerboard game will be, I'll have to give a big, fat 'I have no idea.' It's usually announced the week of the game, so we'll probably find out at the same time. Giving my best guess, I would say either Oklahoma or Georgia. The Sooners' arrival in Knoxville will bring a crescendo of hype clashing under the Neyland Stadium lights that would look mighty good being backdropped in checkered orange and white.

What will be our first offensive play Saturday? And you can't say the zone read. — NorthBamaVol

You've really hamstrung me here by taking away the easy route. I'm usually not a plain guy. I like spicy foods, I like to get pick-sixes from the grocery store for the variety and vanilla ice cream isn't even on my radar. But I'm going to have to say something plain to answer this because I want to be right. The first play will be a handoff to Jalen Hurd for six yards. If I'm wrong, I give you full permission to do absolutely nothing about it. You're welcome.

What will we learn about our team in Week 1 versus Bowling Green? — gaorange

Excellent question, gaorange. Tennessee fans will be able to glean a good bit from this Bowling Green game, even if they don't think much of it. Vols fans will understand:

1. Just how valuable Alvin Kamara is. He's going to do some things Saturday that will make you turn to your neighbor and question if it was physically possible.

2. What the starting offensive line looks like. The Falcons' defensive line returns three starters and, while not a scary unit, is highlighted by a talented tackle in Zach Colvin. If the O-line stymies Bowling Green's pass rush, it won't be eye-opening, but if Dino Babers' defense is constantly down the throat of Josh Dobbs, you'll learn there are more problems than first thought.

3. How talented the freshmen defensive tackles are. If you haven't seen an open practice or spring game, this will be your first look at watching Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle maul opposing offensive lineman like cartoonishly large trained assassins.

What are you most looking forward to as you embark on covering the Tennessee football season week-in, week-— Danny Parker

I think what I'm most looking forward to is spending time with my wonderful boss, who is full of life, laughter and good will. Is he gone? Okay, good. When you take out the fact that I'll be watching a live college football game every week until December, I'm most excited about the travel involved with covering an SEC team. We're lucky enough to spend time daily at one of college football's meccas, and on top of it we get to venture out to see campuses and stadiums across the country that are also historic and legendary in their own right. The trip to Tuscaloosa will be extremely fun, and I'm low key pumped about the Kentucky-Tennessee game in Lexington on Halloween night.

When it comes to Tennessee specifically, I'm amped up to watch 102,455 people congregate in song to bellow 'Rocky Top' as loudly (and in some cases, as drunkenly) as possible on a cool September Saturday night with the Knoxville skyline beckoning triumphantly in the background. It's going to be a wild, fun season, and I'm grateful I get a front row seat for it. Can it be Saturday yet?

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