Tennessee takes extra day off practice to rest

Tennessee safety Prentiss Waggner didn’t really notice how many

plays he was on the field against UAB. After the game, his body

gave him a hint.

”I always feel good when we win, but I’m also pretty sore and

pretty tired,” the sophomore from Clinton, La., said after the

game.

Tennessee’s defense was on the field for 92 snaps compared to

the offense’s 61, and Waggner was out there for all of them plus

four special teams plays. Safety Janzen Jackson, cornerback

Marsalis Teague and linebacker Nick Reveiz each participated in 90

or more plays too.

That’s just one of the reasons coach Derek Dooley decided to

give his players Monday off of practice in advance of Saturday’s

trip to No. 12 LSU (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference).

”That’s probably my biggest concern,” he said. ”That’s just

too much, but it’s what we did. The lack of depth puts you in a

little but of a pickle there.”

Dooley usually gives his teams an extra day off after a long

streak of games, but decided to take the break a week earlier than

usual after back-to-back losses to Oregon and Florida and an

overtime win against UAB.

The Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) entered the season with 76 scholarship

players after awarding a few to walk-on players but have lost nine

players because of injuries since fall camp. Center Cody Pope

(stinger, concussion) and JerQuari Schofield (foot) aren’t expected

to play against the Tigers, and cornerback Art Evans, linebacker

Herman Lathers (leg), running back Tauren Poole (thigh) and wide

receiver Gerald Jones (hand) are day-to-day.

Dooley expects the extra day off to expedite recovery for

several of those players, but the additional rest could help the

eight freshmen who played against the Blazers adjust and spend more

time in the film room.

”I think everyone on our team really needs that extra day of

rest,” quarterback Matt Simms said. ”If any team in the country

needs an extra day to get healthy it’s us, because that’s how thin

we are. We have a lot of young guys that aren’t used to putting

this much strain on their bodies.”

Simms has had a lot of strain on his own body, thanks to taking

11 sacks total in the past two games.

”I know it sounds weird, but I really think I’ve kind of

mastered how to take a sack and just protect my body and protect

the football, as crazy as that sounds,” he said. ”It’s something

that’s going to happen each and every game, and you’ve just got to

continue to fight through it and stay healthy.”

Simms planned on using the extra time to study for some tests,

while defensive end Chris Walker spent part of his day getting a

Whirlpool treatment and Nick Reveiz planned to join some of his

fellow linebackers for an extra film study session.

Just because Dooley eased up on them for a day, doesn’t mean

things will be any different when the players return to the

practice field on Tuesday. That especially goes for the defense,

who seriously struggled to tackle the Blazers.

”It’s going to be hard for me to compromise being physical and

tackling,” he said. ”If that means guys are going to get hurt,

I’m going to have to live with it. What I can’t live with is

watching a team that doesn’t tackle well, so I’d rather have the

worst guys in college football who are going to go tackle than have

the good players who won’t tackle.”