Tennessee is set to turn the page on the dramatic, incredible Alabama win last Saturday. They’ll welcome UT-Martin to Knoxville on Saturday at noon, which sets up nicely for what could have been an easy let-down spot in SEC play.
Most importantly this week, Tennessee gets a chance to rest and heal. The Volunteers are nursing several key injuries, most notably to top receiver Cedric Tillman. Tennessee also has a number of different issues in the secondary, including injuries to three starters.
This week is all about next week — get it done Saturday and move on to Kentucky. Of course, Josh Heupel isn’t going to say that.
“We’ll find out on the injured guys here at the back end of the week,” Heupel said on Thursday. “Feel like they’re (Tillman/Kamal Hadden) progressing. Cedric has had a good week. But we’ll see where we’re at tomorrow afternoon. Make a decision, determination, at that point. Jaylen’s (McCollough) process is still going on. We’ll see where we’re at here at the end of the week.”
Let’s be honest and read between the lines — nobody that’s borderline is playing this week. There’s no point and it’s not worth it. Tennessee will roll with a skeleton crew in the secondary if they have to, with Hadden, McCollough and Christian Charles all in question. Dee Williams, Brandon Turnage, Wesley Walker and De’Shawn Rucker can hold things down at corner.
Tennessee will be more than happy to get Walker Merrill, Jimmy Holiday, Jimmy Calloway and Squirrel White a couple of quarters of work at receiver, too. Expect a bunch of Joe Milton under center, with plenty of Dylan Sampson at running back.
The staff’s patience with Tillman looks like it’s going to pay off, potentially in a large way as the Volunteers sit at 6-0. No reason to jeopardize that here.
Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. ET on Saturday on SEC Network.