KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin didn't address reports that freshman safety Janzen Jackson had been suspended for Saturday's game against Memphis, but defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin hinted that a one-game patch was needed.
"I don't talk about guys being suspended during the week," Lane Kiffin said. "Just like when it's happened before, and it's going to happen again, I'll address it after the game."
Monte Kiffin said redshirt freshman Prentiss Waggner or freshman Darren Myles Jr. would start alongside All-American Eric Berry against the Tigers.
"They've both practiced (with the starters)," the elder Kiffin said. "We'll see who's going to start, but they're both working hard. And they've got to come through for us, no doubt about it."
Jackson, the reigning Southeastern Conference freshman of the week, has started every game this season and exceeded even the coaches' optimistic expectations. Several sources in the program said Jackson's "violation of team rules" was not a law-enforcement issue.
Lane Kiffin praised Jackson earlier in the week for his performance against the Gamecocks, saying the freshman was "everywhere" on the field.
"I don't know how he did what he did, but he was everywhere," Kiffin said. "I'd like to figure out what it is and let everybody else have it, because he was unbelievable. That's a freshman. He's knocking people out left and right all around the ball, and then on kickoff coverage he's still the first guy down.
"I'd like to say he's going to be a great player, but he already is."
Lane Kiffin said junior defensive end Gerald Williams (ankle, foot) was the only injured Volunteer questionable for Saturday.
"For the most part, we're pretty healthy," he said. "Gerald Williams will be a game-time decision, but other than that, I think everybody that has been questionable during the week will play."
Kiffin added that junior kicker Daniel Lincoln's injured quad muscle is still a possible issue, but he hopes to settle that question today.
"He kicked the ball yesterday and seemed to be all right," Kiffin said. "This is a game where we need everybody on deck, so it's really good to have it that way."
Monte Kiffin said junior defensive end Chris Walker's sore lower back has bothered the defense for weeks. Walker was considered by coaches the team's second best defender in spring practice and preseason camp, and he played well before reinjuring his back against Ohio.
"That's hurt us. That's really hurt us," the coordinator said. "Hopefully he can go this week. He's had those back problems, you know, and it's been tough with him being off and on. We miss him, because he's definitely a dominant force. He was earlier in the year."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said senior Vladimir Richard was finally back near 100 percent health following early-season knee and Achilles' tendon injuries, and he expected him to keep battling Cory Sullins to regain his starting position.
Richard was a mainstay in the starting lineup before the injuries. He's practiced and played the past two weeks but hasn't won back his spot.
"At the end of last week, Vlad started practicing very well," Chaney said. "And all this week, he and Cory have been competing really hard at that left guard spot. It's been fun to see. It will be interesting to see it. I haven't watched today's tape, obviously, but we'll go in and watch that and make a call on how many reps everybody is going to get in the ball game.
"Vlad's been practicing very well. He's full speed from injury now."
Chaney admitted mild concerns about potentially shaking up a line that's performed well in recent weeks, but he said Richard's experience would probably offset any rust.
"You always contemplate that, but Vlad knows those guys so well," Chaney said. "It's about communication, and he's so familiar with Chris (Scott) that I don't think that would be an issue."
Chaney said he's been pleased with freshman wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson's performance in practice this week after missing Sunday night's work for "personal reasons."
"He's practiced hard and done a really good job for us," Chaney said. "I'm happy with Nu'Keese. He's done good things."
Lane Kiffin said coaches hadn't decided on most of the starting positions reopened for competition this week, including middle linebacker, fullback, left guard, nickel cornerback, second-team defensive tackle and left defensive end in third-down situations.
"I know I sound like a broken record," Kiffin said after being asked separately for updates at several of those spots. "They'll be a bunch of stuff to look at when we go watch this film. As we talked about, whatever is, five or six spots we've opened up, we'll figure it out by the time we play. And if it's really close, we'll play both guys."
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