It's better than 2002

There are easier tasks than sending two freshman quarterbacks against Georgia in Athens but Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders can think of at least one scenario that's even worse. That would be the task he faced the last time Tennessee ventured to Athens.

With starting QB Casey Clausen sidelined by a shoulder injury, the 2002 Vols had one week to prepare backups C.J. Leak and James Banks to face the Bulldogs. Leak, a junior, got the vast majority of practice repetitions that week. When Leak struggled on Tennessee's first two series, however, the Vols switched to Banks, a true freshman who had been used exclusively at receiver in earlier games. Banks directed all but one of the remaining possessions.

By comparison, the Vols are in a lot better shape in 2004 -- even having to rely on rookies Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer to handle the QB duties.

''No doubt,'' Sanders said. ''These guys have played when the game's on the line. At that point (in 2002), James had never taken a snap and C.J.'s snaps had been very limited.'

''We're definitely better prepared this time.''

That's encouraging, since Tennessee lost by a mere 18-13 score in 2002.


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