First, Da’Rick Rogers was suspended from the program just a week before Tennessee’s season opener. Now two more players — both freshman — are done before the season even begins.
Derek Dooley revealed today that second-team SAM linebacker LaTroy Lewis suffered a torn ACL in a non-contact injury and that backup kicker George Bullock broke his leg. The Volunteers don’t have a great deal of depth behind their starting linebackers. At kicker, Bullock was behind two others on UT’s depth chart.
Still, that’s three bodies down before Friday’s game with North Carolina State in Atlanta. It’s a good thing Dooley said over the weekend that he feels better about his team’s depth and its ability to handle adversity:
“The lesson from last year was not being held hostage by an injury or two. The deeper you are, the more talented you are at every position, that’s when you can better handle all these contingencies. I’m not saying we’re there. We still have a lot of young guys and inexperienced guys, but we’re certainly prepared for it…
We haven’t had to force playing guys who really aren’t ready. I hope that doesn’t happen. That’s definitely the biggest difference right there. We feel settled and comfortable with who we’re going into the game with. Now that doesn’t mean we know exactly how they’re going to perform. There’s a ton of guys on there who really haven’t performed at a high level in the SEC. It doesn’t mean they can’t. We’re pretty comfortable based on what we saw that these guys can perform.”
The key for Dooley and his Vols now… stop losing men before the first kickoff.