Thursday Practice Report

Head coach Phillip Fulmer kept his starting quarterback for Sunday‚s game a secret following Thursday's practice. However, he assured the media that he would name a starter on Friday.

"I know everybody's expecting a quarterback announcement today," Fulmer said. "Actually, when I said Thursday, I meant the Thursday of the regular game week. I'll let everybody know tomorrow. I forgot we were playing on Sunday."

Whether it's Brent Schaeffer of Erik Ainge, Fulmer seems like he has prepared himself and the rest of his staff for what could be some exciting times.

"With young quarterbacks playing, some things will be a thrill a minute," Fulmer said. "I really have been happy with the way they've handled themselves. I know on the front end we‚ll have to be somewhat patient with some things. They've gotten us to the line of scrimmage. They‚ve handled the huddle well. They don't make a lot of silly mistakes. I‚ve been awful happy with the way the rest of the team has lifted them up."

Former quarterback and currently suspended safety James Banks was seen limping off the practice field with his right knee wrapped. Banks is expected to undergo knee surgery on Friday. How long he is sidelined after the surgery remains a mystery until after the work is done.

"He may be back in three weeks," Fulmer said. "It may be four or five (weeks) before he's ready. It may be one of those things when it's next year. Hopefully it's three weeks. If it's not, we'll live with it and go from there."

The offensive line is battling some injuries of its own. However, losing a couple of key players hasn't put a cramp in Fulmer's style.

"I feel good about those guys," Fulmer said. "I do want to get Albert Toeaina back as soon as we can. I want to get Eric Young back as soon as we can. That will give us some depth and competition."

With Toeaina and Young out, Fulmer said Richie Gandy, Chuck Prugh, and David Ligon could all see action as early as the first half.

Ligon could see double duty at tight end, too. If he plays on the line and at tight end, look for him to wear two different numbered jerseys, depending on which position he's at. He'll wear 66 on the line and 99 at tight end.

Rob Smith, who will start his first career game at left guard, won high praise from Fulmer.

"Rob's the toughest guy up there," Fulmer said. The Vols will have a similar practice on Friday and walk through their game plan on Saturday.

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