Yancey gets a chance

He may be little, but 5-8, 185-pound David Yancey could play a bigger role in Tennessee's offensive scheme this week.

Because of injuries to tailbacks Ced Houston and Gerald Riggs, Yancey got some late playing time last weekend against South Carolina. The former walk-on promptly broke a 23-yard touchdown run that helped seal the Vols' 43-29 victory. Now he's in line for more opportunities.

''Definitely,'' Vol running backs coach Trooper Taylor said. ''The question with Yancey has always been his (pass) protection because of his size. But he's a pretty tough fellow. He's done well there in practice. Hopefully, he'll get another opportunity this week and he'll make plays. If he continues to do that, he'll continue to play.''

Although he concedes that Yancey ''was probably our most productive back in spring practice,'' Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders seems very concerned about the tiny tailback's ability to pass protect.

''He's not the biggest guy,'' Sanders said. ''If you ask him to step up there and block a 260- or 270-pound defensive end coming off the edge, the quarterback better look out. He (Yancey) might get thrown at him.''

Still, Sanders hinted that Yancey will get a chance this weekend against Notre Dame.

''He will throw his hat in the ring and he's a good runner,'' the Vol aide said. ''You do what he does well and keep him out of positions he doesn't do as well.''

Taylor described Yancey as ''a very good zone runner because he's patient. We talk about being slow to the hole, then fast through it, and that's what he does well.''

Taylor made a beautiful run against Carolina, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage, then weaving his way through the secondary.

''I was very encouraged to see a kid that works his butt off like that get an opportunity, then take advantage of it,'' Taylor said. ''It was kinda like seeing your son graduate or seeing someone in your own family do well. I was excited for him, and I look forward to seeing what he does this week.''

Yancey could be the answer to the Vols' kickoff return woes. Cory Larkins is averaging a so-so 19 yards per runback, so Tennessee needs a spark in that area, as well.

''We tried him back there early,'' Taylor said of Yancey. ''Larkins, once he got challenged, made some plays (in practice). But David's competing back there, along with Derrick Tinsley.''

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