Ainge to start

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer confirmed Thursday that junior Erik Ainge will start at quarterback Saturday at Vanderbilt. Ainge missed Game 10 and most of Game 9 - both losses - due to a sprained ankle.

"He's right at 100 percent," Fulmer said. "We'll be a little bit careful with him. We'll try to be smart. I don't anticipate a problem.

"I would have liked to had him the last couple of weeks but he couldn't go. He knows the football team needs him and I hope we throw it and catch it like we were before he was injured."

Even with Erik Ainge near full speed, Fulmer says the Vols need to be wary of a Vanderbilt team that is better than its 4-7 record suggests.

"Vanderbilt is a tough challenge," Fulmer said. "They are a good offensive team, starting with the quarterback who is doing an outstanding job. They can run the ball well when they spread out, and their receivers are very talented.

"Their defense gives you lots of looks. They really make you work at finding the pressure, and they're a big pressure team. It's nothing that we haven't seen probably most of the year, just more of it as we prepare for them."

The Commodores have losses this year to Alabama by three, Arkansas by two, Mississippi by seven, Florida by six and, last week, to Kentucky by eight in a game in which Vanderbilt racked up 621 yards of total offense.

"Week in and week out in the Southeastern Conference, you better be ready to play," Fulmer said. "This year, I have seen more balance to the point where injuries and other factors have made a difference."

UT, 7-3 overall and 3-3 SEC, was averaging 401.6 yards of total offense through eight games, but managed just 257.0 in consecutive losses to LSU and Arkansas.

INJURY UPDATE (Vanderbilt Game) -- Questionable: DE Antonio Reynolds (neck); Out: WR Austin Rogers (mononucleosis).

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