KNOXVILLE - Derek Dooley called it a mess a couple of weeks ago, and the Tennessee football coach still is tinkering with his secondary.
Izauea Lanier, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior college transfer, will start when the Volunteers return to Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon to host Buffalo. Lanier took over the spot during UT's bye-week practices last week.
"He's playing better," Dooley said after Monday morning's practice. "It's everything, he's got good size and speed at the position, he's a tough guy, makes tackles in space. I think as time is going, he's getting a little more confident with the defense, he's playing a little faster and he played pretty good against Florida. We hope he can progress."
Lanier is the third different starting cornerback opposite of the steady Marsalis Teague. Freshman Justin Coleman started the season's first two games, but he allowed a couple of big plays in each game. Fifth-year senior Art Evans started in the loss to Florida.
"I just come out here like every day, like I treat every day as it's the same," said Lanier, who signed with Auburn out of Gordo High School in Alabama in 2009. "I'm not too overwhelmed about it because I still have a job to do. I'm just going to stick to what I've been doing."
The Vols appear fairly healthy heading into October. Offensive linemen Dallas Thomas, Alex Bullard and Zach Fulton were all back at practice and working with the first-team offensive line.
Linebacker Herman Lathers did some light jogging around the practice field. It's the first activity of that nature since Lathers suffered a severely fractured ankle in a June workout.
In more depth-chart news, Zach Rogers is now listed as a starter at the X receiver in place of Justin Hunter (torn ACL, out for the season). Freshman Vincent Dallas is his backup. Freshman DeAnthony Arnett and Rajion Neal are listed as co-backups behind Da'Rick Rogers.
Evans and Eric Gordon are listed as co-backups behind Teague.
Freshmen Marlin Lane and Devrin Young are both listed at punt returner, and the same duo is listed as one of the two kick returners along with tailback Tauren Poole.
More coverage in Tuesday's Times Free Press. Follow Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter for more continuous updates.