||TENNESSEE-MARTIN at TENNESSEE
6 p.m. ET
Shields-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium (102,455)
|LIVE TV: PPV/ESPN3
Jason Simpson is in his fourth season at UT-Martin and overall with a record of 26-20 (.565). The Skyhawks' offensive coordinator is Mac Bryan and the defensive coordinator is Chris Boone.
Derek Dooley is in his first season at Tennessee and in his fourth season overall with a record of 17-20 (.459). The Volunteers' offensive coordinator is Jim Chaney and the defensive coordinator is Justin Wilcox.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN TENNESSEE-MARTIN HAS THE BALL
The starting quarterback will be junior Derek Carr. Carr played in seven games this past season. He completed 10-of-21 passes for 127 yards. Jason McNair will be the featured running back in the Skyhawk offense. The Mount Olive, Miss. native and the nephew of the late Steve McNair rushed for 292 yards and four touchdowns in limited playing time in 2009. Senior Bryant Milligan and Stephen Shiver will emerge as the starters. Milligan had 18 catches for 222 yards and a touchdown. He played in nine games. Shiver played in all 11 games and was second on the team in receiving in 2009 with 33 catches for 479 yards and three touchdowns. The most consistent offensive lineman is Taz Tillery, one of two returning starters. The other is left tackle Rodney Irvin.
Ben Martin and Chris Walker are two of the Vols' six returning starters on the defensive side. The two ends combined for 80 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2009, with Walker leading the squad with six sacks. Senior middle linebacker Nick Reveiz is back from a season-ending injury last year. When he got hurt, he was among the team leaders in tackles and regarded as one of the primary emotional leaders of the team. Art Evans returns as a starter and will hold the right side of the defensive backfield for Tennessee. His 39 tackles last year was the most among returning players in the entire secondary.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN TENNESSEE HAS THE BALL
Senior Josh Bey, the 2010 Preseason Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, will move from the middle linebacker position to the weak-side linebacker. Jonathan Utley will now play middle linebacker and Jett Howard will get the starting assignment at the strong-side linebacker. The defensive tackles include Ray Teamer, Darrin Nalls, Karlos Jones, Anthony Kelly and DJ Roberts.
The departure of Jonathan Crompton to the NFL and also the loss of Nick Stephens by transfer left the quarterback position wide open during spring drills. Those departures placed transfer Matt Simms in the spotlight early. Gerald Jones comes back as one of Tennessee's senior leaders. Playing in 12 of the 13 games last season, he led the Vols with 46 catches and 680 yards (an average of 14.8 yards per catch). Denarius Moore caught 40 balls for 540 yards last year. He gained 13.5 yards each catch. It all adds up to more than 100 yards per game returning at the starting receiver positions. Luke Stocker showed his nimbleness last season with 29 catches for 389 yards - third on the team among those returning - and five touchdowns.
Simpson signed two freshmen kickers, James Satterfield and Tucker Nelson to challenge sophomore Cody Sandlin. Clay Sheley and Joe Hook return to handle the snapping and punting duties. Milligan, McNair and Harris will handle the punt return chores, while McNair, Taylor and Barfield return kicks.
Chad Cunningham and Daniel Lincoln have one more go at it for the Vols and are in search of consistent senior seasons. Cunningham averaged 42.1 yards per punt and improved his kickoff distances last year. Lincoln struggled some as the placekicker late in the season due to a nagging leg injury that prevented him from getting height on his kicks. He was 10-of-16 on field goals, and five of his misses were from 40 yards or more.
Record: First Meeting
The Derek Dooley era begins at Tennessee after a three-year stint at Louisiana Tech. This will be the third straight season opener with a different head coach on the sidelines for UT.