Casey may be 'Dunn' in this week

Even if injured quarterback Casey Clausen is able to play this weekend at Mississippi State, he may be unable to play for long. Bulldog defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn is sure to put plenty of pressure on the Vols' junior signal-caller.

Asked how Mississippi State has been able to rank No. 2 in SEC pass defense, Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders replied: ''You see a bunch of guys rushing the passer. A lot of times they're sacking you before you get a chance to throw it. That's a big challenge.

''Coach Dunn isn't shy about blitzing people. And if he has success with it, you'd better be ready to see it again because he's going to keep doing it until you beat him. That's probably the biggest challenge we've got -- being able to beat the pressure quickly and make a play.

''If you look back at the Ole Miss game last year, Ole Miss had a lot of success (for two quarters). Then he started blitzing the second half -- pretty much got to the point where he blitzed every down -- and they came back and won.''

One criticism of Vol backups James Banks and C.J. Leak is that they are tentative -- holding the ball too long before deciding whether to throw downfield, scramble or throw the ball away.

''If they hold onto it very long this week, we'll run out of quarterbacks,'' Sanders said. ''They will bring it, and there will be people coming free. If they (QBs) hand onto it, they will be taking hits.''

Although a Monday evening MRI showed no serious damage to Clausen's injured ankle, there are widespread rumors that he will not play this weekend ... maybe not this SEASON. Head coach Phillip Fulmer refuted such speculation earlier today, noting that: ''We expect him back out there on Wednesday.''

Still, the head man conceded that, ''We've got to plan on going with the young quarterbacks.''

Sanders echoed those thoughts.

''We have to prepare as if he (Clausen) is not going to play,'' the coordinator said. ''If he does, that'd be nice and we obviously could expand our package a little bit. I would much rather expand it a little bit than have to narrow it back like we had to do a few weeks ago (when Clausen missed the Georgia game, leaving Leak and Banks to run a scaled-down offense).''

Clausen limped through the first half of the Miami game on a sore ankle, aggravating it when he was sacked on UT's last scrimmage play of the second quarter. He did not play in the third or fourth quarters, finishing the night 5 of 14 passing for a mere 63 yards.

''Toward the end of the second quarter, I think he got to the point where he wasn't hardly physically able to play,'' Sanders said. ''He couldn't move around real well and he also had a hard time pushing off that foot and throwing the football. I think that was a little bit of a factor in a couple of the incompletions he had.... His foot being sore kind of got his mechanics off, resulting in a little bit of inconsistency throwing.''


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