The Monday Mailbag

You ask 'em. We answer 'em. It's a fun time for all.

Why was Justin Martin so little used Saturday? Is he still not healthy enough or is it that he's not there mentally due to missed practice reps? Will he be ready to start against OU? — GregAmsler

Cornerback Justin Martin is still healing from a knee sprain he suffered in fall camp, which limited his reps in the Bowling Green game Saturday. Martin is continuing to heal from the injury, but Butch Jones said Monday his playing time is set to increase against a feisty Sooners passing attack. They’ll surely need him if he has two working legs and is breathing. “Justin Martin’s reps are going to increase this week,” Jones said at his press conference. “We’ll see how much the knee can handle, but not only the physical repetitions, but the mental repetitions. How can he handle now a little more volume of special teams? How can he handle the volume defensively, just from a mental perspective, let alone a physical standpoint as well?”

Thoughts on Quart’e Sapp at safety? Read that he had some reps there last week. Was that just for emergency depth or is the staff considering a move? Is he fast enough to play in the defensive backfield? — NorthBamaVol

I’ll admit I thought it was an interesting move when we first saw it in practice in August, but Sapp has seen extensive reps at the safety position since then and is athletic enough to handle them. When asked, Butch Jones said it’s really to create even more depth at the position while praising Sapp’s versatility and adaptability, so I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point. The freshman runs a clocked 4.7 and was able to cover in the flats as an outside linebacker in high school while keeping up with running backs, so his speed shouldn’t be an issue. This will be an interesting storyline to watch in practice as time goes on with Sapp’s best football ahead of him.

Did the weight gain by Emmanuel Moseley affect his speed? — Reaganvol

Moseley was asked this point blank during fall practice and gave an emphatic no. The coaching staff agreed with him. Despite gaining over 40 pounds since stepping foot on campus, Moseley appears to be as fast as he was when he first came to Tennessee at around 145 pounds.

Is it conceivable that Curt Maggitt stays a linebacker spot due to the fact we have so many defensive ends and who are the other options at middle linebacker besides Darrin Kirkland? — Gatorhator

I would have to give that one a no. Maggitt is one of Tennessee’s best pass rushers with his hand on the ground and Tennessee’s defense plays out of the nickel formation a bunch, meaning only two linebackers are on the field. I don’t see Maggitt being one of those two linebackers, so his best spot wreaking havoc is on the edge.

As for the middle linebacker spot, Kenny Bynum, Dillon Bates and Cortez McDowell are all possible candidates, but the job is Colton Jumper’s right now with Darrin Kirkland also receiving significant playing time.

Is McKenzie ready for meaningful playing time? — volbc

Take it away, Butch!

"Kahlil is working his way back into the rotation. Him missing about a week to a week-and-a-half (of practice) really set his development back just in terms of football stamina, technique. He's a youngster. Again, he has no baseline. He has no baseline level of performance. He's working to that. Kahlil is a very, very hard worker.”

Did Todd Kelly make that big of a difference or was it a change in scheme? — rckytop

Todd Kelly looked to calm Tennessee’s defense down when he entered the game and his presence truly created a more stable secondary to this one observer who many people think is an idiot. Luckily for me, Butch Jones backed me up and said the same thing. The Vols’ third-year head coach raved about Kelly’s ability to relax the defense at strong safety and expects TK to both start and be 100 percent Saturday for Oklahoma.

What's the best match up we have against Oklahoma and the worst match up we have against them? — tylerwrightka

Tennessee’s defensive line should feast against a struggling Sooners’ O-line Saturday. At least that’s how it appears on paper. Oklahoma struggled up front against Akron for a majority of the game, and the Derek Barnett/Curt Maggit duo should be licking their chops at taking a swipe at the Sooners. Tennessee’s toughest matchup may be its corners going up against the likes of Sterling Shepard and his band of merry receivers who like to put up video game numbers in droves. This game features a ton of great matchups that, along with the checkerboarding of Neyland Stadium, incredible hype and coaching chess match, should make for fantastic watching.

Who will be the offensive starters for the Oklahoma game? — VolFanByMarriage

Here are your projected starters per Tennessee’s official depth chart that was released Monday:

QB: Josh Dobbs

RB: Jalen Hurd

WR: Marquez North

WR: Jauan Jennings

WR: Josh Malone

TE: Ethan Wolf

LT: Kyler Kerbyson

LG: Jashon Robertson

C: Coleman Thomas

RG: Dylan Wiesman

RT: Brett Kendrick

Thanks to everyone who sent in a question. If you have one for next week, email cory.a.gunkel@gmail.com, tweet @CoryGunkel, post on the IT message boards or yell it really loudly.


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