September 10, 2007
Knoxville -- Tennessee head athletic trainer Jason McVeigh reports that an MRI revealed senior defensive back Antonio Gaines suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament Saturday and will miss the rest of the 2007 football season.
Gaines had made the first two starts of his career -- at California and in Saturday’s home opener against Southern Mississippi -- and turned in a career-best six of his seven tackles for the year in the Cal contest. The Covington native appeared in 12 of Tennessee’s 13 games last season.
McVeigh said a surgery date is not yet determined.
INTERVIEW OF HEAD COACH PHILLIP FULMER BEFORE SATURDAY’S GAME AT FLORIDA
1. Explain the dramatic improvement the Vols appeared to make from the California game to the Southern Miss game last Saturday.
A - "After our loss to California, it was only natural to get back to the practice field after identifying our weaknesses and then work to get better. We were much better on defense. Offensively, later in the game, we did a good job of putting Southern Miss' defensive players on the ground. The second units on both sides of the ball played better."
2. Do you believe that playing two strong teams at the start of the season will provide momentum that will help against Florida Saturday?
A - "The coaches and players did a good job of improving from the first game to the second game, and we hope that momentum will continue against Florida."
3. How has competition for playing time helped bring out improvement in the offensive line?
A - "It was great to see members of that second unit involved in putting together a drive for a score. It not only creates competition, but allows us to use more players who can perform with confidence. That could be important in the hot weather we will face at Florida."
4. How much has Erik Ainge's own dedication to improvement helped develop his confidence as the Vols quarterback?
A - "Erik played outstanding football for us last year before he was hurt. I thought he was playing as well as anybody in the country. He worked hard in the off-season and continues to do so. Now he is running our no-huddle offense real well and getting the ball to receivers quickly."
5. Playing Florida, what will be the chief concerns of the Vols as they open the SEC season at Gainesville on Saturday?
A - "Florida is good on both sides of the ball and strong in the kicking game as well. We're concerned with the speed and talent they have everywhere. It will be our 11 and their 11, and we will see how we match up. They spread the ball around on offense, and they are very aggressive defensively. We've been tested in two tough football games, and it should make us a better team."