Vols prep for SEC home opener

KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) -- Tennessee’s first SEC home game of the season Saturday night against Auburn is a chance for the Vols to climb back above the .500 mark. UT also could even its league mark with a big win on a big stage.

But head coach Lane Kiffin says it will take a determined effort from both side of the football to slow down the 4-0 Tigers.

“This is the third-leading scoring offense, third-leading in yards (both nationally), and so explosive in passing and the run game. They are really good and they are playing great.”

Tennessee’s defense ranks eighth nationally in yards per game but dropped to 33rd in scoring after faltering slightly in last weekend’s 34-23 win over Ohio. Kiffin says the defensive focus will be stretched by Auburn’s multiple offensive formations.

“Florida does a lot but I don’t think anybody maybe ever has done as much as these guys do. This (offense) is more confusing and has more things to deal with.”

Tennessee’s Thursday practice went for 90 minutes at Haslam Field. The Vols (2-2, 0-1 SEC) will finalize their game plan with a closed walk-through on Friday before staging final preparations for Saturday’s 7:45 p.m. Eastern time kickoff (Vol Network, ESPN).

“I thought it was a really good practice from the offensive perspective,” Kiffin said. “I wasn’t on the defensive end, but I thought guys were focused and they came very prepared today. We had good meetings, a very crisp practice and did a lot of really good things.

Kiffin said senior offensive guard Vladimir Richard is doubtful with a bum knee and that he would “wait and see” about junior defensive end Chris Walker’s possible return from a back injury.

“Obviously, they are both leaders for us,” Kiffin said. “Chris is our sack leader and a dominant player on defense; hopefully, he will be there.”

Calgary Stampeders wide receiver Jeremaine Copeland was honored by the Canadian Football League as September’s offensive player of the month.

Copeland has been impressive in 2009 and continued his torrid pace in September, recording 18 catches for 343 yards and four touchdowns in four games. The Tennessee product was a key contributor in a month that saw Calgary go 3-1 and climb into a tie for first in the CFL’s West Division.

Copeland had the Stampeders’ only receiving TD in a 32-8 victory over Edmonton on Labor Day and then had two scores, including the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining, in Edmonton on Sept. 11. He was honored as the CFL’s player of the week for his efforts in Week 11 and closed out the month with two solid performances against Hamilton and British Columbia, including the Stamps’ only passing touchdown — a five-yard, highlight-reel grab — in a 27-18 victory over the Lions on Sept. 25 at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium.

The East Tennessee native (Harriman) and nine-year CFL veteran leads the league with 12 receiving touchdowns and ranks second among receivers with 886 yards. Calgary has six games remaining in its 18-game regular season.

Click the following link for video highlights of Copeland on the Stampeders’ Web site:


Georgia associate athletics director Claude Felton reports that head coach Mark Richt's regular Sunday teleconference will be held this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, rather than the usual 5:30.

The number to call is (212) 812-4494, passcode 4458 0624.

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