Young QBs have made progress

Tennessee's coaches are hopeful that Casey Clausen will be back at quarterback when the Vols host Alabama Saturday night. But, if not, they figure backups James Banks and C.J. Leak are much better prepared to fill the void than they were at Georgia 12 days ago.

Asked to pinpoint which area of his team improved the most during the Vols' recent open-date week, head coach Phillip Fulmer answered:

''Probably those young quarterbacks. They got all the work. Both of them have issues -- C.J. (Leak) doing things on time and seeing ... James (Banks) just understanding the offense -- but they got an incredible amount of work.''

Even if Clausen is healthy enough to go all four quarters at QB, Banks probably will see some playing time --- either at quarterback for a series or two or at wide receiver.

''We're talking through that right now,'' Fulmer said. ''He's not going to be standing over there with me (on the sidelines) the whole time. I can pretty much assure you of that. He'll get a chance to play.''

Fulmer added that Tennessee's freshman receivers made strides during the open date, as well.

''Jonathan Wade has done really well, and Chris Hannon has done really well,'' the head man said.

Another area Fulmer hopes he upgraded during the off week was the offensive line. It has been somewhat erratic all season, due in part to a rash of nagging injuries. The current victims are guard Anthony Herrera (ankle, knee) and tackle Michael Munoz (hand, shoulder, knee).

''Herrera wasn't there and Munoz wasn't able to practice that much,'' Fulmer noted. ''We weren't able to get all the work done that we really needed to get done. But the end of last week was productive.''

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders joked that Munoz was so banged up at Monday's practice that ''he looked like an advertisement for the trainers association -- a cast on his hand, a support on his knee, one arm tied down. He looked like a medical supplies commercial.''

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