Tuesday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE -Tennessee's quarterback saga is still the hot topic as the team heads into Wednesday's scrimmage. The offensive unit, as a whole, is poised to show marked improvement after an embarrassing showing over the weekend, too. Each of those issues were addressed at practice on Tuesday according to head coach Phillip Fulmer.

"Everything today was geared toward the scrimmage," Fulmer said. "We got a lot of situations looked at as far as the two minute drill, overtime, two point plays, all those situations that could win or lose a ballgame. It's really important to get a look at the quarterbacks in all those situations." The quarterbacks will get a similar amount of snaps in the scrimmage. However, if you're a head coach, like Fulmer, there are never enough reps to go around when you're in a predicament like this one.

"You can't give each one of them sixty plays like you would like to," Fulmer said. "It would kill the rest of your football team. We're looking for the guy that will give us the best chance to win the conference and win the eastern division."

The odds on favorites to win the job are sixth year senior C.J. Leak, and true freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer. Yet, Fulmer lauded the efforts of the two other signal callers, Bo Hardegree and Rick Clausen, seemingly lost in the shuffle.

"Bo has made more progress than anyone out there, not including the freshmen," Fulmer said. "From where he was at this time last year to where he is right now, I'‚m very impressed with what Bo has gotten done. He's throwing the ball better. He understands the system better. I'‚m not disappointed at all."

"Rick has got probably the best grasp of our offense of the guys," Fulmer said. "He's been in a system that's not unlike ours. He's a bright guy. Putting the ball where he wants to put it all the time has been his trouble. To know the most about what we're doing now, Rick has it."

The backfield may be just as big a question mark as the quarterback position. However, experience and numbers are on the team"s side when you take a look at the tailbacks.

"It's an open competition, just like at quarterback," Fulmer said. "The best player that gives us the best chance to make big plays and be consistent will be our tailback. They've all had their moments so far this fall."

Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis both come into the season with three years of college football under their belts. Gerald Riggs may have the most potential as he enters his third year in the program. You can't ignore the diminutive walk-on from Virginia either. David Yancey has had a sterling pre-season, following a break-out spring.

"Yancey is right in the middle of the tailback rotation," Fulmer said. "He'll definitely play for us this year. Will he be the starter? He's right there battling them. He'll give us some plays."

In other news related to the running back rotation, Tennessee got some good news pertaining to Arian Foster. Foster was waiting to see if he was going to qualify academically. After Tuesday, his wait is over.

"Arian Foster was cleared today," Fulmer said. "He'‚ll have to go through the process of getting registered and getting everything done academically. It'll still be a few days before he gets out here."

On the other hand, it looks like the Vols wait for Demonte Bolden is over. According to Fulmer, Bolden won't be in Knoxville until next year, at the earliest.

"Demonte right now is going to Hargrave Military Academy and will hopefully be able to return in January," Fulmer said.

Bolden might have been able to lend the defense some much needed help up the middle. However, Fulmer likes what he is seeing from the undermanned line, so far.

"I've been awful pleased with the defensive front," Fulmer said. "Even though we're very thin at defensive tackle, Jesse Mahelona, Tony McDaniel, and Justin Harrell have played extremely well."

The linebacking corps won't be operating at full strength for the rest of the season due to a couple of surprising developments. Fulmer announced Nick Wilson is suspended for a year due to a violation of team rules. Fulmer also said Marvin Mitchell underwent arthroscopic surgery to his knee.

"We do expect him to return," Fulmer said. "How soon is a question. He won't be available for the majority of this year."

Players sitting out of Tuesday afternoon's practice included: Robert Ayers, Victor McClure, James Banks, and Cody Douglas.

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