Tennessee certainly didn’t have any issues on Saturday without starting center Cooper Mays on the field. The Volunteers thrashed a decent Virginia front, all while rotating eight guys up front. Ollie Lane and Dayne Davis both spent time at center with Mays on the sideline.
That will be the case once again this weekend against Austin Peay, as expected. With no reason to rush him back for a tune-up game, Tennessee will instead focus on getting him back for the SEC opener in Gainesville on September 16th.
“Coop, he’s been with us on the field,” Heupel said on Vol Calls on Wednesday night. “We will not play him in this one. That’s just in preparation for the following week, make sure that he’s 100%.”
Mays underwent what was described as a ‘minor procedure’ a couple of weeks into fall camp. Honestly, it sounds like he’s ready to roll if he’s needed, but there’s no reason to push it with Florida coming up next.
Tennessee is also dealing with injuries to defensive tackle Elijah Simmons and linebacker Keenan Pili. Heupel announced on Wednesday that Pili would miss at least a couple of weeks following an upper body injury suffered over the weekend. Wide receiver Squirrel White also went down with an injury against Virginia, but it sounds like he’s ready to go after a scare.
Tennessee and Austin Peay are set for a 5 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN+ and SEC Network+.