Dooley shaking up Vols’ two-deep
While his formal announcement that Justin Worley would start under center Saturday night at quarterback when Tennessee hosts 14th-ranked South Carolina dominated the spotlight Monday, Derek Dooley also revealed numerous other depth chart changes that could shape the Vols through the final five games of their season.
Perhaps most notable was the benching of former Freshman All-America selection James Stone in favor of true freshman Marcus Jackson at the left guard position. Stone has played both center and guard for the Vols since arriving as one of the most heralded prospects of Dooley’s first signing class.
But Jackson is a former four-star prospect who arrived in January as a mid-term enrollee and the strongest member of the Vols’ offensive line.
“Well, he’s a bigger, more powerful player. It was, I think he, you know, it’s kind of sad to admit this, but when he got here in February, he benched more than anybody on our whole o-line,” Dooley said of Jackson. “But that’s where we were from a development standpoint. He’s got the stature. He’s got the explosive power, he’s got the physical tools. Now what he hasn’t impressed us with is his consistency. But again, we’re not getting the performance we need so we’ve got to make a change. I don’t know. It could go the third series, we put James back in. We’ll see.”
Other moves of note on the Vols’ depth chart included the formal depth-chart change of Prentiss Waggner and Izauea Lanier as the defense’s starting cornerbacks, while Brian Randolph and Brent Brewer will continue at the free safety and strong safety positions, respectively.
However, Dooley made clear fourth-year junior Rod Wilks could challenge Brewer for more time at the strong safety spot, and Justin Coleman also will be the team’s third cornerback.
Dooley also indicated that the likely plan from a special teams standpoint this week would be to have sophomore Michael Palardy, the team’s special teams player of the week after a brilliant performance at Alabama, handle all three phases of the kicking game.
“Probably start out that way but we’ll see,” Dooley said of Palardy, whose 52-yard field goal at Alabama was the Vols’ longest in 16 years. “He didn’t have a lot of kicks. What worries you is kickoffs. He only had two, we hope he has some more. The kickoffs can stress you. You have to generate a lot of power.
“Especially with him, he’s still really underdeveloped physically. He’s underdeveloped. You see those pro guys, when they’re wiry sophomores and freshman compared to their fourth year in the league there’s a big difference in their legs.”