O-line gets high marks

Roasted following a Game 9 loss against Notre Dame, Tennessee's offensive line is being toasted following a Game 10 victory against Vanderbilt.

Playing the entire game without starters Cody Douglas and Jason Respert, and MOST of it without starter Michael Munoz, the front still opened enough holes for Tennessee to pile up 236 rushing yards. In addition, Vol blockers allowed no sacks and very few hurries.

''I thought what they did was very impressive,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. ''We played a lot of that game with our third center (Richie Gandy) and our fourth option at one guard (David Ligon). It was mix and match.''

Even with reserves playing key roles in the line, Vol tailbacks Gerald Riggs (149 yards) and Cedric Houston (97 yards, three touchdowns) enjoyed big days.

''There were a lot of guys in there in the second half with clean pants because they hadn't played much,'' Sanders said. ''But they did a tremendous job. Any time you have backs run for as many yards as ours did, obviously there were some places to run. We didn't have a sack and very little pressure. It was a really good job by our front people.''

The key question: Can the Vol O-line build on that success in this Saturday's regular-season finale against Kentucky? Maybe, but the task will be a little tougher than it was last Saturday.

''It'll be a bigger challenge this week,'' Sanders said, ''because by far the strength of Kentucky's defense is their defensive line, so they (Vol blockers) will be challenged quite a bit more this week.''

Sanders called the injury situation in the line this fall ''probably the worst I can remember.

''In 2002 we had a lot of injuries but it wasn't anything like this. Cody's been healthy maybe two games or three. Jason Respert's been limping around since the fourth or fifth game. Michael Munoz has something new every week. Arron Sears missed four or five weeks of practice but never really missed a game yet. You have to applaud what he has gone through.''

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