"Today is our off day," said Johnson in his Monday press conference. "We're going to look at [Doster] tomorrow to see how he's doing. [Fullback/tailback] Matthew Tant may be back. Right now [at tailback], it's Tant and [walk-on senior Jason] Bourque."
With Doster questionable, the Commodores' injury woes at the tailback position are putting the offense in a precarious position. Earlier in the season the team lost its top two tailbacks, Ronald Hatcher and Norval McKenzie, to season-ending leg injuries.
Doster, a 5-11, 175-pound freshman from Tampa, Fla. who stepped in for Hatcher and McKenzie, is the Commodores' leading rusher with 798 yards on the season-- a school record for freshman running backs. Doster has averaged 72 rushing yards per game, and had 111 yards in last Saturday's game against Kentucky before leaving the game with an injury.
Tant, a 5-11, 218-pound freshman who plays both tailback and fullback, did not play in the second half after suffering from back spasms, but will likely be back to face Tennessee.
"We're getting pretty thin back there," joked Johnson. "[Sports Information Director] Rod Williamson and [Director of Athletics] Todd Turner volunteered to step in, but I need a little better help than that.
"Today [Monday] is our planning day. We really haven't decided yet [on our offensive gameplan for Tennessee]. We may just have to throw the ball a little more."
Asked if he might try a defensive back at the running back spot, Johnson replied simply, "We might."
Tennessee also comes into Saturday's game hampered by injuries. The Volunteers lost starting safety Rashad Baker for the season due to an injury in the Mississippi State game, and starting quarterback Casey Clausen is questionable after missing the last two games with a foot injury. James Banks, primarily a running threat, has started the last two games at quarterback for the Vols. Johnson said that Clausen's absence makes a difference in how the Commodore defense prepares to defend the Volunteer offense.
"It does," said Johnson. "Against Alabama it didn't really matter whether they used Tyler Watts or Brodie Croyle, but Tennessee is different. With Casey Clausen in there, they try to do some different things. We'll just have to adjust our gameplan accordingly."
Asked by a reporter if Johnson knew what Clausen's playing status would be, Johnson joked that he hoped the reporter would head over to Knoxville and try to find out. "No, we don't have spies," said Johnson. "We probably won't get any definitive news out of Knoxville. We'll just have to prepare for either possibility."
Although Vanderbilt has lost 19 consecutive games against the Vols, Johnson assured reporters he had been informed by Vanderbilt fans just how intense the rivalry is between the two schools, and how much a win over the Volunteers would mean to the program.
"It never has been that intense, because the last 20 years it's been a one-way rivalry," said Johnson. "In South Carolina you didn't just pick up the newspaper and see who won between Vanderbilt and Tennessee. But people educate you in a hurry. It's important to Vanderbilt-- it's one bright light on your season if you get it done. People started educating me about it about 30 seconds after I got here.
"It's a big game to the people of Tennessee, and it could be an important step for our program."