Tennessee's opener against California is still three weeks away but the Vol coaching staff is looking to separate the guys who are dependable from the guys who aren't, so the former can get most of the reps between now and Sept. 2. That's why today's scrimmage is huge for several players.
Matt McGlothlin at defensive tackle. Phil Fulmer seems to think UT is better upfront with Turk McBride at tackle, rather than end. McGlothlin needs a strong showing today to convince the head man otherwise. If reserve tackles Demonte Bolden, Dan Williams and J.T. Mapu can perform adequately, that also will solidify McBride's move to end.
Antonio Reynolds and Robert Ayers at defensive end. With Walter Fisher and Xavier Mitchell sidelined by injuries, UT is perilously thin at end. Ayers could challenge Reynolds for the berth opposite McBride with a fine showing today.
Ryan Karl, Jerod Mayo and Rico McCoy at linebacker. They're battling for the two outside ‘backer jobs. Karl and Mayo have more experience but McCoy may have more raw talent.
Demetrice Morley at safety. He has more big-play potential than starters Jonathan Hefney and Antwan Stewart but he has to convince the coaches he's dependable on an every-down basis.
LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty at tailback. Someone has to back up Arian Foster. Whichever one of these guys performs best in today's scrimmage will have a huge head start in that competition.
Jonathan Crompton at quarterback. Erik Ainge is No. 1 but Crompton's performance today could get him some early playing time if Ainge struggles in September.
Josh Briscoe and Lucas Taylor at receiver. Jayson Swain, Robert Meachem and Bret Smith are likely to play a lot. Briscoe and Taylor need good showings today to join the playing mix.
All of the offensive linemen other than Arron Sears and David Ligon. Those two guys are solid. The other three starting spots are up in the air.