Clausen's back, but will he play?

Vol quarterback Casey Clausen is back at practice this week -- on a limited basis -- but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll play in Saturday's game at Vanderbilt.

Although UT coaches hint that Clausen will play, there are persistent rumors that he will not play again this season due to foot and ankle injuries that caused him to miss last weekend's game at Mississippi State.

Certainly, Commodore coach Bobby Johnson has no idea what to expect.

''I don't know what to anticipate right now,'' he said. ''Obviously, they're a different team when Casey Clausen is in. You go to the strength of your quarterback, and he has shown he has a great arm and can throw the football.

''Whichever quarterback plays, we're going to have to stop the run because we didn't do a very good job of it last week against Kentucky (in a 41-21 loss). That's got to be in their (Vols') game plan.''

Since Tennessee is likely to rely heavily on the running game, the coaching staff might elect to withhold Clausen and give his injuries another week to heal. But head coach Phillip Fulmer suggests the Vols would like to get their signal-caller on the field this weekend.

''If Casey's back -- which I think he will be --that's to our advantage because we'll be much more balanced,'' Fulmer said.

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders watched Clausen participated on a very limited basis in Monday's workout. He remains evasive concerning the junior QB's status.

''We're very hopeful of having Casey back,'' he said. ''He did a little bit (Monday). He wasn't able to do everything ... wasn't able to do as much as he'd need to do in order to be able to play. But it was good to have him back out there in uniform. I think it provides a lift for our whole offense.''

Since freshman James Banks guided the Vols to a 35-17 defeat of Mississippi State last weekend, there is speculation that Banks will play quite a bit this weekend even if Clausen is good to go. Sanders suggests otherwise.

''I'm hopeful that Casey's well enough, if needed, to be able to play the whole game,'' the coordinator said. ''James does bring a little different dimension into it. We'll know more after practice. I'm hoping he (Clausen) is able to do more and more each day.''


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