published Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

UT rebuffed on orange jerseys


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee won't wear its orange home jerseys at Alabama on Saturday.

UT coaches and administrators aren't sure specifically why, but Alabama officials wouldn't grant the Volunteers permission to wear their home duds in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Recent NCAA rules changes allow both teams to wear non-white jerseys, if cleared by the conference and home team.

The Southeastern Conference had no issue with the matter, according to Vols coach Lane Kiffin, who said the objection came from the Crimson Tide.

"We tried to do that," Kiffin said Monday night. "In talking with some people in the offseason about the history here and both teams wearing the home jersey, I thought it would be something that would be really neat for our fans and for their fans.

"We were approved by the SEC, and Alabama denied us that."

Alabama athletics director Mal Moore issued a statement Monday evening addressing the issue.

"Mike (Hamilton, Tennessee's AD) and I had a good conversation this morning, and I told him that it is our desire to maintain the custom of the visiting team wearing their visiting jerseys," Moore said. "We'll continue to wear our white jerseys when we visit Knoxville next year."

UT senior defensive lineman Wes Brown, an Alabama native but lifelong Vols fan, said he was only minimally bothered by the situation.

"We could wear pink and I'd still be down there ready to go," Brown said. "This game is special to me, regardless, but wearing that orange jersey is special. Getting to do it in a great rivalry like this, that would have been really special."

The Vols could still wear orange Saturday, but they'd be penalized 15 yards to start each half.

"We're not good enough to do that," Kiffin said. "The last thing we want to do is kick off 15 yards back."

Kiffin praises poll

Kiffin suggested that Alabama's ascension to the No. 1 spot in this week's Associated Press poll was long overdue.

Florida, another of UT's biggest rivals, maintained its seasonlong spot atop the coaches' poll.

"I think one poll got it right," Kiffin said. "If you watch football and pay attention, I don't think there's any doubt who the No. 1 team is. It was very evident when you look at the two teams playing Arkansas."

The Crimson Tide crushed the Razorbacks 35-7 earlier this season. The Gators held on for a close, controversial home victory over Arkansas on Saturday.

"Alabama has a great team -- very well-coached, extremely talented, great special teams, great on offense, great on defense," Kiffin said. "I love the style that they play with. I think they play extremely physical. They play in your face. They come downhill at you. That's what we'e going to be someday.

"I like everything about what they do."

MIAs

Vladimir Richard practiced more Monday than he has in weeks on a sore knee and Achilles' tendon, and UT's senior left guard said he would play Saturday.

"All the treatment and all the long hours in the training room, all that paid off," Richard said. "The off week helped. I came out here today flying around. I got warmed up pretty good, and ever since that point I was good to go."

Richard played through the Achilles' problem for two weeks before missing the past two games with the knee problem.

"They say Achilles' injuries take a long time to heal," Richard said. "It's not fully healed yet, but it's a lot better. The pain's withstandable. It won't stop me from doing anything on the field that I have to do."

Kiffin said Richard would have to re-earn his spot atop the depth chart, though, because former walk-on Cory Sullins has played well.

"We let them both play with the 1s today," Kiffin said. "Both rotate in there, so it will be a very competitive week for them, and we'll figure it out by game time."

Kiffin said the team reported back "fresh" from the off week.

"I saw a lot of people that haven't been practicing that were practicing today, so I think that means we're healthier," junior middle linebacker Savion Frazier said. "I'll take that. That's some good news."

Quintin Hancock's sprained ankle remains a question mark, but Kiffin said the injury wasn't as severe as junior wideout Gerald Jones's was earlier this season, and he's hopeful Hancock will play Saturday.

TFP correspondent Michael Casagrande contributed to this report.

Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.

about Wes Rucker...

Twitter - @wesrucker Facebook - /tfpvolsbeat

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