Jabari Small seeks big finish for the Vols

Tennessee Athletics photo by Andrew Ferguson / Tennessee sophomore running back Jabari Small hopes for a second 100-yard performance this season and his first since the opener when the Volunteers host South Alabama on Saturday. ESPNU will televise the 7:30 p.m. game.

When Tennessee first-year football coach Josh Heupel discusses growth within his offensive system, he has a couple of obvious examples to cite.

Graduate transfer quarterback Hendon Hooker has catapulted from a backup at the beginning of the season to ranking sixth nationally in passing efficiency entering Saturday night's game against South Alabama inside Neyland Stadium. There is also redshirt junior receiver Cedric Tillman, who had eight career catches entering this season but racked up 10 for 200 yards and a touchdown during last week's 41-17 loss to top-ranked Georgia.

Yet the growth of Jabari Small might be a little tougher to gauge given that the sophomore running back has been injured here and missed a game there for the Volunteers (5-5).

"As guys have been banged up and haven't been able to go, it limits you from seeing their growth on game day," Heupel said, "and it takes away some their potential during the week to grow, too, if they're not able to get a ton of practice reps.