Gators, Vols are seasoned teams

There's nothing like an SEC showdown weekend to get the football juices flowing.

To the 106,000 fans expected at Neyland Stadium and the millions more listening through the Vol Network or watching on CBS Sports, Tennessee-Florida stands out for one important reason -- veteran play at an extremely high level.

"It's really true on both teams -- there are a lot of guys who have played in some big ballgames," head coach Phillip Fulmer said Thursday after the Vols practiced for 90 minutes on Haslam Field. "There shouldn't be any nervousness or newness about playing a game like this."

The Vols and Gators have been meeting in this early-season setting since SEC divisional play began in 1992. And the mid-September date offers quite a challenge to the more youthful players on both sides.

"It's very difficult when you think of the crowd, the emotion, and how fast and physical the game is to prepare for until he's had the chance to experience it," Fulmer said. "We're fortunate in most cases to have guys who have been out there and played in those kinds of games.

"You can't simulate that in practice. You can try in scrimmages to some degree and they get some feel. But not 100 percent until they play in a game like this."

-- UT captains for Saturday are defensive tackles Robert Ayers and Dan Williams, offensive linemen Ramon Foster and Anthony Parker, tailback Arian Foster, wide receiver Austin Rogers and linebacker Ellix Wilson.

-- Tennessee's CAREacter Star Athlete of the Week against UAB was wide receiver Lucas Taylor. The Carencro, La., native is tied for the SEC lead with 84.5 receiving yards per game, while standing second in receptions per game at 6.0. Taylor against the Blazers caught nine passes for 132 yards -- a career second best effort in both categories. Off the field, Taylor has become a regular in Tennessee community service efforts and carries a very understanding personality when dealing with the younger Vol fans he encounters and supports.


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