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Heupel anticipates having Cooper Mays available on Saturday against Florida

Fantastic news.

Capital One Orange Bowl - Clemson v Tennessee Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

It would appear that Tennessee has its starting center back just in time for conference play. Cooper Mays will make the trip to Gainesville this weekend, and Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel says he expects to have him available to play on Saturday night.

Heupel confirmed the news today in his press conference.

“Yeah, he will be going with us,” Heupel said. He’s done really good all week long, I anticipate him being ready to play. He’s smart, competitive and communicates at a really high level. His experience is beneficial for us.”

Mays missed the first two games of the season after undergoing what Heupel called a “minor procedure” in the middle of fall camp. Ollie Lane and Dayne Davis have filled in for Mays against Virginia and Austin Peay.

Now the question becomes whether or not Mays is able to start the game, how how many snaps he’s able to handle. Tennessee plays fast, so is Mays ready to handle that pace?

“Conditioning is one thing, but even before he was back on the grass with us, there was a lot he was doing with our strength staff,” Heupel said. “The flow of the game will dictate a little bit how he is feeling out there.”

Tennessee has at least been able to build depth at center through all of this, so you have to feel decent about plugging Lane in if you have to for a couple of drives. The offensive line as a whole has been a rotation to this point, but it will be interesting to see if Glen Elarbee settles on a top five with SEC play now here.

Tennessee and Florida are set for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN.