1. WHO SHOWS UP?
The Vols recently received good and bad news to this question, but many answers remain unknown. Sophomore defensive tackle Marlon Walls and sophomore linebacker Greg King have been reinstated after serving suspensions for their roles in a July bar fight. Senior defensive tackle Chase Nelson and junior college defensive back signee Dave Clark has been declared academically ineligible. Signees John Brown, Eddrick Loften, Marcques Dixon and Martaze Jackson are awaiting word on their academic eligibility. First-year head coach Derek Dooley hopes to have other answers within a week.
2. IS MATT SIMMS THE MAN?
Simms (left), the son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms and brother of Titans quarterback Chris Simms, walks and talks like an SEC quarterback. But will he play like an SEC quarterback, or will the Vols have to hand the reins to tall, talented freshman Tyler Bray? Simms has been a solid leader since stepping foot on campus, but that won’t matter if he doesn’t produce in games.
3. WHO MAKES THE BIG PLAY?
If the Vols can’t consistently run the ball well, they’ll need a few players to emerge as big-play threats. Will that be senior wide receivers Gerald Jones (left/right) and Denarius Moore? The latter has certainly gained big chunks of yards in the past. Or will a freshman such as Da’Rick Rogers or Justin Hunter fill that role?
4. WHO EMERGES UP FRONT?
Dooley and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand claim they feel confident in the five likely starters. Talent doesn’t seem to be the pressing issue, but the entire first team has a combined three starts — all from senior guard Jarrod Shaw. Depth also is a serious issue.
5. WHO FILLS OUT THE SECONDARY?
Clark’s academic deficiencies, Loften’s academic worries, Darren Myles’ dismissal and a few injuries have left the Vols with unexpected holes in the secondary, and wide receivers Marsalis Teague and Ted Meline will start camp as defensive backs in hopes of filling those gaps. Safety Janzen Jackson and cornerback Art Evans (left) seem locks to start if they’re healthy and eligible, but the other two main spots are anyone’s guess. And new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox loves to use sets with five or more defensive backs.
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