Tailback depth perilously thin

Jabari Davis carried Tennessee's running game in the second of last Saturday's game at Florida, and he may have to carry it for both halves of this Saturday's game with South Carolina.

With Cedric Houston (hip pointer) and Gerald Riggs, Jr. (ankle) limited by injuries, Tennessee's tailback stable could be reduced from four horses to two -- Davis and fourth-teamer Corey Larkins. Naturally, this has offensive coordinator Randy Sanders a bit worried.

''I'm very concerned about tailback AND fullback,'' Sanders said. ''I can never remember making a road trip with only five running backs. Normally, you travel with five tailbacks and about four fullbacks. We had five total (going to Florida). That was a big concern, especially when Cedric went down.''

Tennessee's sudden shortage of rushers has forced Derrick Tinsley to move from wide receiver back to tailback, the position he played in high school and the position at which he began his college career.

''He's got to (switch),'' Sanders said. ''He's a guy that's played back there.''

Tennessee also is depth shy at fullback. Thanks to the recent dismissal of third-teamer Aaron Kirkland, the fullback corps consists of starter Troy Fleming and backup Will Revill.

''We've worked some of the tight ends a little at fullback,'' Sanders noted. ''But we've only got three tight ends, so if you move one of those guys, suddenly you've got a depth problem at tight end.''

Given all of this, the Vols are hoping for another big game from Jabari Davis, who won SEC Back of the Week honors for his 78-yard, two-touchdown performance last weekend at The Swamp.

''Jabari did a nice job, obviously,'' Sanders said. ''It seemed like he kept getting stronger as the game went on. That may be his MO (mode of operation) -- the more carries he gets, the better he gets. As the game went on, he was hitting things a little more north and south and became a little harder to tackle.''


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