KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee quickly became the walking wounded Saturday against Ohio.
Already without star linebacker Darrin Kirkland (high ankle sprain), the Volunteers lost Kirkland’s tag-team partner midway though the second quarter, as linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin left the game with an undisclosed injury.
The senior, who has led Tennessee in tackles the previous two seasons, was injured making a tackle on punt return. Junior Cortez McDowell replaced Reeves-Maybin at weakside linebacker. Reeves-Maybin, a captain, was visibly upset on the sideline, sitting alone on the bench with his head in his hands.
Earlier, backup weakside linebacker Quart’e Sapp went down with a leg injury on a kickoff return.
With Reeves-Maybin out, the Volunteers were down five starters on defense. All-SEC cornerback Cam Sutton injured his ankle on Ohio’s opening drive.
Starting nickelback Malik Foreman was suspended, while cornerback Justin Martin (ankle) and defensive end LaTroy Lewis (ankle) also were sidelined.
Thus far, the Volunteers have survived the injuries, playing a bend-but-don’t-break defense against the Bobcats. Tennessee has limited Ohio to 4 field goals and leads 14-12 late in the second quarter.