Following Monday’s dramatic comeback win over Georgia Tech, Tennessee is doing its best to rest and recover on a short week.
The No. 25 Vols are preparing for their home-opener against Indiana State on Saturday (4 p.m., SEC Network), and four veteran players remain questionable due to various injuries.
Senior defensive tackle Kendal Vickers (leg) and kick returner Evan Berry (undisclosed) exited Monday’s win in the second half, and fifth-year coach Butch Jones said Wednesday that both players are still being evaluated. Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (knee) and wideout Josh Smith (shoulder sprain) remain questionable as well after not playing Monday night.
Jones said all four players would participate in practice some this week.
“I would say right now at this point in time, all those individuals are questionable,” he added. “I’ll know a little bit more later in the week. There’s a possibility they could play this weekend.”
Jones did not offer an update on linebacker Austin Smith, who sprained his knee in practice Friday before the game.
Tennessee’s defense played 96 snaps Monday and the game didn’t end until the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Jones complemented the team’s training staff for helping the players recover so quickly on a short week.
“I think our training staff has done a really, really good job,” he said.“We setup ice tubs in the locker room after the game. We did all of our recovery at the stadium in Atlanta and then continued all (Tuesday).”
JENNINGS OUT INDEFINITELY
As VolQuest.com first reported Tuesday, junior wideout Jauan Jennings suffered a significant wrist injury in the win against Tech on Monday night. Sources expect the hero in last’s year’s victories over Florida and Georgia to miss up to 12 weeks this season, with Jones labeling the injury “indefinite” on Wednesday.
Jones did not add any other details, only saying, “It’s indefinite. That’s all I can say at this particular time. I can’t get into specifics.”
After missing Monday’s game due a suspension for a violation of team rules, left tackle Drew Richmond will be available this weekend against the Sycamores.
“Drew will be ready to play,” Jones said. “We’re excited to get him back at practice and to compete. He’ll be available for the game.”
Richmond was listed as the Tennessee's first-team left tackle in Wednesday depth chart, with the expectation the redshirt sophomore will start Saturday and senior Brett Kendrick will flip sides and start at right tackle.
JONES PRAISES SMITH
Following an impressive debut Monday night, freshman right guard Trey Smith earned kudos from several teammates in the bowels of Mercedes-Benz Stadium after the win.
Jones added to the praise Wednesday, noting that the former top recruit more than held his own in his first collegiate game.
“Trey Smith did some really, really good things up front, and not just from a physicality standpoint, but from an energy standpoint,” Jones said, naming Smith one of the team's standout performers in the opener.
“We score a touchdown, and he’s high-stepping and running into the end zone. And that’s what we talk about: That contagious passion. That energy.”
Smith had several key blocks to spring tailback John Kelly for big gains, but it was the freshman's mauling of a defensive back on a kick-out block that went viral during the game.