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Vols juggle backup QBs as Gators await

Published Sep. 27, 2005

The 11th-ranked Vols began preparing for Saturday's game against No. 6 Florida with one quarterback watching on the sideline and a former quarterback visiting old friends.

Joey Mathews, who had an MRI exam last week on his left knee, did not practice Monday. Exam results did not show damage to ligaments or cartilage as coaches had feared. Mathews lost the starting job to redshirt freshman A.J. Suggs after the opener against Southern Miss.

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was not sure if Mathews would be able play against the Gators.

"It's up to him and how quickly his knee responds. Hopefully we will have him back," Fulmer said.

Freshman Casey Clausen continued to share snaps with Suggs. He did not play two weeks ago because he was recovering from an inflamed rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.

"During practice he said he was having no pain. It looks like he's going to be the closest to 100 percent since the summer," Fulmer said.

"I think Casey will be ready to play. It might be we try to get him into the game somewhere. My thoughts right now is A.J. will be quarterback until we need something different."

Players and coaches got a visit from Tee Martin, now a backup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I was going to call him, and it's funny he showed up and I got to ask him what I wanted to ask him," Suggs said of his former road roommate.

Martin said he knows what Suggs is going through preparing for his first start against the Gators. "You can't explain it. It's the fear of the unknown, not really knowing," Martin said.

MICH. STATE: Quarterback Ryan Van Dyke didn't throw in practice because of his badly bruised right thumb. His status for Saturday's game at Missouri is uncertain.

MISS. STATE: The Bulldogs will make the trip to Provo, Utah, a day early, leaving today to help alleviate the possibility of jet lag for its Thursday night game against Brigham Young.

N.C. STATE: The Wolfpack's 2-0 streak will come to a quick end without improvements on defense, coach Chuck Amato said. "Everything, everything, everything," Amato said, when asked what about the defense, which has given up 69 points.

NOTRE DAME: Quarterback Arnaz Battle, injured in an overtime loss to Nebraska, is scheduled for surgery today to repair a fractured left wrist. He will be out at least six weeks.

SEC: South Carolina tailback Derek Watson and Auburn defensive back Courtney Rose were named players of the week.