published Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Vols shuffle it up at Tuesday's practice

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee did some lineup switching during the part of practice that's open to the media on Tuesday morning.

Alex Bullard and James Stone swapped positions to left guard and center, respectively. Stone has struggled with errant snaps throughout the early part of this season, especially in games against Southeastern Conference defenses. Bullard, a sophomore transfer from Notre Dame, worked some at center during the spring.

"We work a lot of guys, like we always do," Volunteers coach Derek Dooley said after practice. "Just trying to find the right pieces, I don’t think it’s any secret that James has been inconsistent on the shotgun snaps, and we can’t not get in the shotgun, so we’ll look at them a little bit and see if that (works).

" James has played some guard before. It’s not something you want to do, but it’s also something that when you have a pattern, you have to not be afraid to take some action."

Stone started three games at left guard as a freshman last season before switching to center and starting the final five games of last season.

Bullard said he did some live-situation work at center last week, but the only other times he's worked on snapping are during the quarterback-center exchange at the start of practice and prior to games.

"[Monday] we decided to switch me and James around and [Coach Dooley] just said we’re going to see how it goes," said the 6-foot-2, 309-pound Bullard, who's from the Nashville area. "We’re sticking with this as of right now. The coaches called my number, they said we needed to do this and if they didn’t think was the best chance for us to win, I doubt they’d be doing it. We just have to trust in them, and we’re rolling with it. I felt good today doing it."


At his weekly news conference on Monday, Dooley hinted the Vols might switch the lineup in the secondary. Prentiss Waggner and Izauea Lanier were working as the first-team cornerbacks during the open part of practice on Tuesday. Freshman Brian Randolph was working at free safety.

"In certain packages in the base group I'm going to corner, and when we go into certain run defenses I'm going back to the safety," Waggner said. "I'm getting a few reps at the corner this week."

Marsalis Teague, who's started every game this season, was the odd man out. Lanier has started the last three games. The Vols' corners have struggled against Georgia and LSU's receivers the last two games.


Freshman tailback Marlin Lane made his media debut on Tuesday. Lane is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but he had 43 yards on six carries against LSU and caught six passes for 84 yards against Georgia. He's scored four touchdowns this season.

"I don't get down on myself because I know it's the next level and I'm just a freshman," Lane said. "I just go day by day and work harder to get the yards per carry up."

Lane added that Dooley is hardest on him about running without hesitation.

"He's run better and better, especially the last two games I think he has," said the coach. "He showed some good ability in the early games. He's running a little bit better. He's still not near what he's capable of doing. So a lot of technical issues. Sometimes plays too high. Sometimes guesses a little bit, but he's getting better and better."

More on the lineup shuffling and Marlin Lane in Wednesday's Times Free Press. Follow Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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