Coker earns first start

Tennessee tailback LaMarcus Coker's 146-yard rushing effort last Saturday vs. Marshall has earned him his first college start this Saturday at Memphis. Montario Hardesty, who started Game 3 (Florida) and Game 4 (Marshall) is now running with the second team.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer downplayed the promotion, saying: "Before it was Montario and LaMarcus. Now it's LaMarcus and Montario."

LaMarcus Coker carried 11 times for 53 yards in Tennessee's opening win over California but did not get a carry in Games 2 or 3. He did, however, catch a 48-yard touchdown pass in Game 3 vs. Florida. He carried just eight times against Marshall but broke an 89-yarder on one of them.

Fulmer said he wasn't surprised by Coker's breakout performance vs. Marshall.

"You could see it coming," the coach said earlier this week. "He's practiced well, worked his rear off. I said before the season: He was in shape for the first time since eighth grade. He's worked really hard and I'm happy with where his game is at this point."

Fulmer indicated that Coker's work habits kept him from seeing significant action prior to the Marshall game.

"I don't think he trained real hard," the coach said. "He's got a lot of God-given talent but didn't train real hard - lifting and running - as he should have."

Arian Foster, who started the last five games of 2005 and the first two of 2006 before being sidelined by an ankle injury, could be available for duty this weekend. Foster got just two carries in Game 3 vs. Florida and did not play at all in Game 4 vs. Marshall.


Cornerback Marsalous Johnson's suspension has been lifted. The 5-9, 180-pound redshirt freshman from Smyrna was suspended in preseason after allegedly pointing a pellet gun at an off-duty police officer while driving on the interstate.

"Marsalous has been returned to playing status after fulfilling his four-game suspension," Fulmer said. "While the suspension has been hard on our team, we needed to make a point to Marsalous and the rest of the team that we expect them to conduct themselves at a high standard and be good representatives of our great university."


Tennessee's Oct. 7 SEC East showdown at Georgia is being televised by ESPN and kicks off at 7:45 p.m. EST. It will be Tennessee's third appearance on ESPN this season.

The Vols lead the series against Georgia 18-15-2 but the Dawgs have won five of the past six meetings, including a 27-14 verdict in Knoxville last fall. UT is 9-7-1 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, prevailing 19-14 in 2004.

Other SEC games that will be televised on Oct. 7 are Arkansas at Auburn on CBS (11 a.m. Central), LSU at Florida on CBS (3:30 p.m. Eastern) and South Carolina at Kentucky on ESPN2 (7 p.m. Eastern).


Senior offensive tackle Arron Sears has been named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance in Tennessee's 33-7 win over Marshall.

Sears graded at 82 percent and had five knockdown blocks as the Vols rushed for 176 yards on 24 attempts.

Sears earned the same honor last season vs. Ole Miss.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories