Coming off one of the most deflating losses in recent history, the Tennessee Volunteers are looking to bounce back against Akron Saturday.
Unfortunately, the Vols will be without sophomore starting safety Brian Randolph for the rest of the season. Randolph tore his ACL against Florida last week. This comes as an immediate concern due to Akron's pass heavy offense. Junior Brent Brewer will replace Randolph as the starter, but head coach Derek Dooley said that he would also give time to senior Rod Wilks and freshman LaDarrell McNeil.
Dooley also praised junior safety Byron Moore for being in position and doing what he's been asked to do. Moore knows that losing Randolph is a big blow to the secondary, but he said that everyone needs to focus and work harder.
"Just gotta have another guy step up now," Moore said. "I'll take more of a leadership role back there and make sure those guys are right in the back end, and the next guy just has to be ready now."
The Vols will also be making a change at cornerback with sophomore Justin Coleman replacing senior Marsalis Teague on the right side.
On the other side junior quarterback Tyler Bray struggled last week, but still put up decent numbers. With 900 passing yards through three games Bray has kept the ball moving and made some great throws. The problem so far has been when Bray sees pressure and has to get rid of the ball quickly.
"We're just not executing," said Bray. "If you can't complete a pass or run the ball you're not going to do anything on offense."
The Volunteers are looking to get the running game going to take some pressure off of Tyler Bray. Junior running back Rajion Neal has over 200 yards and sophomore running back Marlin Lane has over 100 yards so far this season.
One way to help improve the running game may lie in sophomore linebacker A.J. Johnson's hands. Johnson had two carries for five yards and a touchdown lined up in the Wildcat formation.
"He's physical," said offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. "I knew he's 250 pounds, and let's put him on the field and see what happens and we couldn't be happier with that result."
The Volunteers play Akron in Neyland Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night.