KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee’s offense may be missing two starters Saturday when the Volunteers play at No. 4 Oklahoma.
Vols coach Butch Jones said Monday that wide receiver Von Pearson won’t play this week because of a high ankle sprain. Jones also said tight end Ethan Wolf has a bruised knee that leaves him questionable for the Oklahoma game.
Pearson, a junior-college transfer, injured his left ankle while blocking for receiver Alton ”Pig” Howard in the first half of Saturday’s 34-19 victory over Arkansas State. Wolf, a freshman, hurt his right knee while getting tackled after a short completion in the third quarter.
”He’s in great spirits,” Jones said of Pearson. ”The great thing is we anticipate getting him back hopefully here very soon because he adds a whole new dynamic to this offense, but also, his competitive nature, our kids feed off of.”
After the Oklahoma game, Tennessee has a week off before playing Sept. 27 at No. 6 Georgia.
Pearson has seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown through the first two games of the season. Wolf has eight receptions for 46 yards.
”The great thing is (receiver) is one position where we do have some depth, but anytime you take an individual the likes of Von Pearson out of your lineup, that’s a setback for you,” Jones said. ”(It’s) not just what he’s been able to do on the field but in the locker room. He’s extremely competitive. … Loves football, needs it in his life, has a smile on his face every day. You can’t get him down. I think we’ll miss that as much as his playmaking ability. It is a setback for us offensively.
”But the way I look at it is it’s another individual’s opportunity to step up. It’s more reps for Josh Malone. It’s more reps for Josh Smith. It’s more reps for Jason Croom. It’s more reps for Alton Howard.”
The Vols (2-0) already are playing without former starting left tackle Jacob Gilliam, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a season-opening 38-7 triumph over Utah State. Redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick started in Gilliam’s place against Arkansas State, but Jones said the position remains up for competition.
Junior-college transfer Dontavius Blair is currently listed as Kendrick’s backup. Another option could be to move right tackle Kyler Kerbyson over to the left side and start freshman Coleman Thomas at right tackle. Thomas worked as Tennessee’s first-team right tackle for much of training camp with Kerbyson at right guard before the Vols decided to go with freshman Jashon Robertson at right guard and Kerbyson at right tackle.
Jones also said running back Derrell Scott (foot) and defensive lineman Trevarris Saulsberry (knee) remain out. Neither has played yet this season. Jones said Scott could be ready for Georgia, and Saulsberry might be back for the Bulldogs or the Oct. 4 matchup with Florida.