Reviews Positive for Two First-Time Starters

Sept. 7, 2009

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin had nothing but positive reviews for his team in his meeting with the media following Monday's short workout inside Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. Two veterans new to the starting lineup, center Cody Sullins and linebacker LaMarcus Thompson, were singled out as having risen to the occasion of their first career start vs. Western Kentucky.

Sullins, a senior and former walk-on, had played just five games in mop-up duty before Saturday. After a heated battle with Josh McNeil throughout the spring and fall, Sullins was awarded the starting job in conjunction with McNeil electing to have knee surgery.

"I thought (Cody) played really well," Kiffin said. "Chris Scott played extremely well and was our best lineman, and I thought Sullins was the next best guy playing inside. This will be a big deal for him next week, another challenge for him."

Thompson had played in just 26 career games entirely in a backup or special teams role.

"LaMarcus played extremely well, which was really good to see," Kiffin said. "Coming into camp we felt really good about two linebacker positions and he was the third one."

The most relevant note concerning all of Saturday's individual performances was the Vols' competition. Western Kentucky is in its first season of bowl eligibility in the top division of college football. UCLA, who Tennessee meets Sept. 12 at Neyland Stadium (4 p.m. ET, ESPN), is one of the most storied programs in all of college football.

"It ended up being like a preseason game with the number of snaps," Kiffin said. "We had a number of our starting defensive players play 22 to 26 snaps. It was good that we came out healthy, but the thing I am nervous about is that we still haven't played a game. Our guys don't know what it's like to play 80 plays in a real game."



The Vols were forced inside Monday after a brief, heavy rain rolled through campus. Despite the weather delay, the workout lasted just more than an hour as the team was able to settle into its game-week routine for the first time. Monday workouts throughout the season will be short and focused on corrections from the previous contest, while Tuesday and Wednesday practices will feature game-plan installation. Thursday and Friday will be review days.

Tennessee's Chris Scott earned his second career SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honor Monday after helping the Vols to their best rushing performance in 15 years.

UT gained 657 yards of total offense in Saturday's season-opening, 63-7 victory over Western Kentucky. Rushing yardage accounted for 380 of that total and was Tennessee's best ground effort since gaining 406 at Vanderbilt in 1994. Tennessee also set a school record for largest discrepancy between yards gained (657) and yards allowed (83) at 574.

The senior from Riverdale, Ga., had six knockdown blocks from his backside tackle position and helped the offensive line preserve a clean slate with no sacks allowed. Saturday's start was Scott's 27th consecutive, tying him with Eric Berry for the active team lead.

Scott previously earned an SEC Lineman of the Week award after last year's win over UAB.

Other players named by the SEC this week were Alabama tailback Mark Ingram (offense), Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley (defense), Arkansas' Dennis Johnson and Florida's Brandon James (special teams), South Carolina's Devin Taylor (defensive line) and Auburn tailback Onterio McCalebb (freshman).



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