Ainge to start vs. UK

Tennessee's season-long quarterback carousel has one more stop to make.

Erik Ainge will start Saturday's season finale at Kentucky. Rick Clausen, who started six games, including last Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt, is listed "questionable" because of a knee injury.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said an MRI suggests Clausen might be able to see limited action Saturday.

"It's better than it was," he said of the outlook. "He's still listed as questionable but we're more optimistic that he might have a chance to play. He needs to get some work during the week, obviously."

If Clausen is unable to play and Ainge is injured, Fulmer said the Vols will turn to Bo Hardegree and Jim Bob Cooter.

"It'd probably be Bo," Fulmer said, "and we have a little package with (freshman receiver) Lucas Taylor."

Ainge started Game 1 vs. Alabama Birmingham but lost the job to Clausen for Game 2 at Florida. Ainge started against LSU in Game 3 but was lifted after a horrible first half. Clausen started Games 4, 5, 6 and 7, then gave way to Ainge, who started Games 8 and 9 before losing the job for Game 10.

Ainge's season stats show a 40.8 percent completion percentage with three touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 73.54 passer-efficiency rating. Clausen has completed 57.4 percent with six touchdowns, six interceptions and a 119.06 efficiency rating.

Since Ainge will be back next year, a good showing Saturday in Lexington might help his confidence for 2006.

"There's been ups and downs," Fulmer said of Ainge's season. "There's been some ups, too. You'd like for him to go into this game and play very well. There will be a change coming up (at quarterback in 2006)…. Hopefully, that will be a big help to him."


Tennessee will be down two offensive linemen in the first half vs. Kentucky. Tackle Albert Toeaina has been suspended for the entire game for throwing his helmet at the end of the Vandy game. Backup center Richie Gandy has been suspended for the first half of the UK game for the same violation. Fulmer said Toeaina's penalty was sterner because of "extenuating circumstances and history." Ramon Foster will start at Toeaina's tackle spot.

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