Ainge rallies

Despite a tender ankle, Tennessee's first-team quarterback apparently will be able to participate in the Vols' game with LSU Saturday at Neyland Stadium. This diagnosis is based on his work in Thursday's practice.

Erik Ainge, who missed the last series of last Saturday's game with South Carolina with a sprained ankle, hardly practiced at all on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This led to speculation that backup Jonathan Crompton might start vs. LSU. Now it appears Ainge will get the call.

"Erik did practically everything today, and that's a real plus," head coach Phillip Fulmer said following Thursday's workout. "He was much improved from yesterday. We still don't have a solid say on exactly what we're going to do but it certainly looks like he's going to be able to play. Jonathan is talented. He's done extremely well and he's ready to play.

"Either one of them, I expect to do the job and do well."

LSU (6-2 overall, 2-2 SEC) leads the NCAA in total defense at 211.6 yards per game. Thus, Tennessee faces a tall order, whether it plays with an injured quarterback or one who has thrown just four passes in his college career.

"Jonathan, with his experience level against the No. 1 defense in the country, that's not exactly how you want to start your career," Fulmer said. "Erik being a little on the gimpy side, that's not exactly the kind of defense you want to go against.

"But that's where we are, and I think we can make it into a positive with how we play."

Fulmer said his players need to stay "focused, hungry and humble" heading into their game with the 13th-ranked Tigers. Tennessee (7-1, 3-1) is ranked eighth in the polls.

"I reminded them how they got here, what it took to get here," Fulmer said. "They were very attentive to that.

"I told them they haven't been preparing for this game the last three days; they've been preparing for this type of game since January. This is why you come to Tennessee, to have a chance to play in these kinds of games."


Captains for the LSU game will be offensive tackle Arron Sears, offensive guard David Ligon, defensive tackle Turk McBride, linebacker Marvin Mitchell and deep snapper Ryan West.

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