Injuries Didn't Help Tennessee

Tennessee's trainer' didn't think it would have a negative impact.

Tennessee's strength and conditioning coach didn't, either.

But you've got to wonder. You've got to wonder if 22 offseason surgeries didn't play a role in the Vols' worst season since 1988. You've got to wonder if players spending more time rehabilitating than increasing their strength and speed kept the team from improving.

Only two players who had offseason surgery were undeniably better in 2005 than in 2004 - defensive end Jason Hall and kicker James Wilhoit

Hall, who had his right shoulder scoped, was second on the team with 7 sacks. He was fourth on the team with 51 tackles and second in tackles behind the line with 13. In 2004, Hall had 27 tackles, three sacks and four tackles behind the line.

Kicker James Wilhoit (right foot) made 14 of 19 field-goal attempts and hit all 21 extra points. In 2004, he was 10 of 17 and hit 44 of 45 extra points. He also boomed half of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

The others were worse or did not show much improvement.

Here's a closer look:

Defensive tackle Turk McBride, who had surgery on both wrists, had 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Last year, McBride had 36 tackles, 3 sacks and 8 tackles for loss.

Receiver Jayson Swain (right knee) had 27 catches for an average of 14.1 yards per catch and no touchdowns. Last year, Swain caught 29 passes and averaged 13.4 yards per catch with four touchdowns.

Receiver Chris Hannon (broken right forearm) had 24 catches and averaged 11.2 yards per catch with three touchdowns. Last year, Hannon had 21 catches, averaged 11 yards per catch and had two touchdowns.

Receiver C.J. Fayton (left knee) had 24 catches, averaged 11.3 yards per catch and had two touchdowns. In 2004, he had 24 catches, averaged 15.8 yards with three scores.

Fullback David Holbert (right shoulder) had six touches in 2004 and just two last season. He was average as a blocker.

Offensive linemen Cody Douglas (right knee), Anthony Parker (right knee) and Ramon Foster (foot, toe) were about the same. Center Richie Gandy (torn ACL) and tackle Aaron Sears (left knee) regressed.

Defensive end Xavier Mitchell (back) had 11 tackles in eight games. He had four in 12 games last season.

Defensive back Jason Allen (right shoulder) led the SEC in tackles in 2004 but suffered a dislocated hip in the fifth game and finished with 35 tackles.

Cornerback Roshaun Fellows (right knee surgery) went from Freshman All-American), 39 tackles and three interceptions to 21 tackles, no interceptions and being benched.

Linebacker Omar Gaither (toe) had 78 tackles and 7.5 behind the line. Last year, he had 92 tackles, 12.5 behind the line.

Defensive end Parys Haralson (left knee) had a team-high 8.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 45 stops. Last year, he had seven sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and 43 stops.

Tight end Brad Cottam, center Cameron Mayo (knee) and defensive end Jared Hostetter (right knee), linebacker Ellix Wilson (right knee scoped) were not factors in 2004 and 2005.

Chavis Hasn't Been Contacted by MTSU

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun reported that Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis is a candidate for the Middle Tennessee State job.

Funny, it wasn't reported in The (Nashville) Tennessean.

A source with knowledge of the situation said MTSU has not contacted Chavis or UT athletic director Mike Hamilton.

Knowing Chavis, he might not want to leave Tennessee after a 5-6 season.

Hendrix Won't Return

A report said forward Jemere Hendrix will return to the Tennessee men's basketball team. Not so, according to a source close to the program.

What kind of message would Bruce Pearl send if he dismissed a player, then allowed him to return?

Hendrix, who is still on scholarship, is going to class and behaving. But Pearl would lose credibility if he allowed Hendrix to return.

Stephens Might Return to High School

UT offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens, dismissed the night of the Kentucky game, told the Gainesville Sun he might not remain in college coaching.

``The whole thing (firing) has left a bitter taste in my mouth,'' Stephens said. ``It's a great game, but a bad business. It's not out of the real of possibility that I'll go back to coaching high school football where I can enjoy it.''

UT replaced Stephens with Greg Adkins. Adkins is UT's sixth offensive line coach since 1995.

Bolden Might Get Medial Redshirt

Tennessee is hoping to get a medical redshirt for defensive tackle Demonte Bolden.

Bolden, who showed promised in the spring game against backup offensive linemen, didn't fare so well during August drills or in games. He saw limited action in a couple of games before being banged up. He did not play behind the sixth game, making him eligible for a medial redshirt.

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