Head coach Phillip Fulmer sounded pretty sure Monday who his first 22 starters are for this season’s crucial opening month. It’s the key reserves who will be battling for plane tickets and playing time come Tuesday’s final scrimmage.
The Vols practiced Monday morning for two hours at Haslam Field as preseason camp entered its final week.
“I think we’re pretty much game ready,” Fulmer said. “Tuesday we will have limited work for the ones and a whole bunch of work for twos and threes.
“There are still things (the starters) need to get better at, but we have to be smart about it. We have practiced very physically and scrimmaged very physically. It has paid off for us, but we’ve been very fortunate and at this point we don’t want to push our luck. I dang sure don’t want them pacing themselves, either.”
In a crucial opening month to the season, the Vols play Sept. 1 at California, host preseason Conference USA favorite Southern Mississippi the next weekend and then travel to Florida for the SEC opener Sept. 15.
Senior linebacker Ryan Karl is cleared for full contact and will be a participant to watch Tuesday afternoon. Karl injured his back during summer workouts and has had only limited reps to date.
“It’s good to have him back out there with his experience,” Fulmer said.
Fulmer said freshmen Chris Donald and Chris Walker both worked at defensive end during Monday’s practice as a precaution after Saturday’s knee injury to Ben Martin.
“We’re trying to create competition as we go along,” Fulmer said. “We’re trying to get some guys coming on with a pass rush and will continue to look at other guys.”
The scrimmage begins at 4 p.m. and students should enter through Gate 21.
MARTIN TO UNDERGO SURGERY TUESDAY:
Tennessee defensive end Ben Martin, who suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s scrimmage, underwent a Sunday night MRI and will have surgery Tuesday.
UT head athletic trainer Jason McVeigh says the extent of Martin’s injury will be known after the surgery, which is being performed by Drs. Greg Mathien and Russell Betcher of the Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information