Helmet throwing

If the Tennessee Vols could throw footballs as well as they throw helmets … well, they wouldn't be 4-6 heading into Saturday's season finale at Kentucky.

Tackle Albert Toeaina, quarterback Rick Clausen and backup center Richie Gandy made headlines last Saturday by tossing their headgears in disgust at the conclusion of the Vols' 28-24 loss to Vanderbilt. There were reports – later proved to be inaccurate – that Toeaina spat on a camera man.

After reviewing film of the incident, head coach Phillip Fulmer suspended Toeaina for the Kentucky game and suspended Gandy for the first half. Clausen, who is nursing a knee injury, may or may not play.

Although Fulmer wasn't happy with the the highly publicized helmet-throwing incident, he wasn't ALL THAT disturbed by it.

"I've thrown my headset," he said. "I've thrown my game plan down in anger or frustration. I pick it up, put it back on and go to work. I'm sure any of us that have played a sport have been disappointed or frustrated."

Although Toeaina started each of UT's first 10 games at right tackle, Fulmer downplayed his absence for Game 11.

"You miss a starter but it's the same as having an injury or something like that," the coach said. "We've had to overcome that all season long at different positions. I think we'll be OK."

Toeaina's spot will be filled by redshirt freshman Ramon Foster. Foster started the opener at left guard but hasn't started since. At 6-6 and 340 pounds, he's better suited to tackle than guard. Still, he hasn't played much tackle this season.

"Not a lot," Fulmer conceded, "but he's worked quite a bit at tackle. Arron (Sears) could go over there but Arron's knee has been bothering him quite significantly the past couple of weeks. Eric (Young) is not a guy you feel like you can flip around. Ramon could play four of the five positions for us."

Asked to assess Toeaina's performance this year, Fulmer replied: "Albert's had a good year. He's been invited to the Senior Bowl, which is a reflection of what people feel he can do. Albert improved a lot from one year to the next. You wish he'd been in the program for four years, rather than just the two, from a football standpoint."


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