Vols get set to go into great unknown

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley won’t take the maximum 70 players to LSU this weekend.

The Vols were already well under the scholarship limit in terms of players, and they’ve incurred several injuries in their first four games. Dooley said there would probably be approximately 66 players on the trip, and he joked that 30 of those had never been on a road trip at Tennessee before.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Dooley said. “Just think about when you got in the car with your four buddies and you’ve never been on a road trip before and you hit the highway. Man, you don’t know what’s going to happen because you don’t know these guys. That’s what we got.”

Dooley, who was an assistant at LSU for five seasons, said there’s no way to simulate Tiger Stadium, although he quipped that he might have painted the Eye of the Tiger in the middle of the Vols’ practice field this week had the blue practice field worked for Oregon State last week.

He also doesn’t plan to hold a workout at Tiger Stadium on Friday just so his players can get a feel for what the place is like. That’s because you don’t get a feel for what Tiger Stadium is like when the place is empty.

“They say go to the stadium because you get a feel for it,” Dooley said. “So you go, and it's real quiet. You see the field and you say, ‘Boy, this is a nice stadium,’ and you do your little walk-through,” Dooley said. “And then the next time you come out, it’s like a monster that came to life.

“I finally said, ‘We might as well just show up when it's a monster …”

Nobody on this Tennessee team has ever played in Tiger Stadium, although the Vols won in their last trip to Baton Rouge. They rallied for a 30-27 win in overtime during the 2005 season in a game that was played on Monday night because of Hurricane Rita.

While several Tennessee players are out with injuries, Dooley is hopeful of getting senior receiver Gerald Jones back this week. Jones has been cleared to practice after being sidelined since the opener with a broken bone in his hand. Dooley gave the team an extra day of rest Monday to try and help heal up some of the injuries.