Tennessee coach Butch Jones confirmed that starting center Mack Crowder is questionable for Tennessee’s game against Missouri on Saturday after sustaining what Jones termed as a sprain of both the ankle and the knee against Kentucky.
Crowder, a redshirt junior, had to be helped off the field in the second half of the game against the Wildcats and was seen leaving Neyland Stadium with the help of crutches.
Jones said that Dylan Wiesman, who replaced Crowder in the game, will be the starting center if Crowder can’t go, though the Vols have several other options at center including Marcus Jackson and Coleman Thomas. Jones also confirmed that reserve guard Austin Sanders sustained a sprained ankle against the Wildcats, but did not give a timetable for his return.
Jones said everybody else who left the game should be clear to return this week. Defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry (knee) is running in practice, but is doubtful for the Missouri game. Running back Derrell Scott didn’t dress for the UK game because he had his hand in a hard cast after injuring his thumb. The Vols are hopeful that Scott can transition to a soft cast and could be available for the Missouri game.
Receiver Marquez North started Saturday’s game, but received limited snaps and did not record a reception. Asked about his health, Jones said Saturday’s blowout allowed the Vols the ability to get North a little extra rest.
“Marquez had dinged his shoulder up a little bit earlier in the week,” Jones said. “We had the luxury – the game afforded us to pick our spots with him to try to get him back and be as healthy as you can possibly be for this stretch run, so we weren’t going to risk anything.”
High praise for Shane Ray: Jones noted the challenge the Vols would have against Missouri’s talented pair of defensive ends, Markus Golden and Shane Ray. Ray, in particular, is having a monster season with 12 sacks and 16 TFLs.
“They have the ability to dominate a football game,” Jones said. “Best tandem of defensive ends we have faced to date in Shane Ray. Which some individuals think will be the first overall pick in the NFL draft and Markus Golden as well. When you look at the formula for truly winning in this conference, all juniors and seniors on the defensive side of the ball and really on their football team. So you can’t put a value amount on experience.”
Ray was listed as the No. 7 overall best draft-eligible player recently by ESPN.
No appeal for Randolph: After Saturday’s game, Butch Jones said they would look into an appeal of the targeting call on safety Brian Randolph that forced him to miss the second half against UK and will also cause him to sit the first half of the Missouri game.
On Monday Jones said that there is no longer an appeals process for that call and that Randolph will be replaced by Todd Kelly Jr. as a starter against Missouri.
“It’s a point of emphasis,” Jones said. “It’s unfortunate. Brian wasn’t being malicious. He was playing with great effort running to the football, quarterback slides, he had already left his feet so he was actually going low. We teach them in the quarterback slides and he hits him above the shoulder. But you know, it is the rule. It is a point of contention and a point of emphasis. You will have to sit out for the first half. Todd Kelly Jr. will take his place but there is not an appeals process.”