KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — While Butch Jones announced tailback Jalen Hurd would play against No. 1 Alabama, Tennessee’s coach was more non-committal on the rest of the Volunteers lengthy injury report.
Sophomore linebacker Darrin Kirkland, who gingerly practiced Tuesday, will be a game-time decision, per Jones, as the All-SEC standout continues to battle a high-ankle sprain that has sidelined him the last four weeks.
“He’s in the same mode as a lot of individuals,” Jones said.
“He did practice yesterday. He’ll get more extensive practice time today.”
With Kirkland questionable and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder) out, Jones said Tennessee needs reserve linebackers Elliot Berry, Dillion Bates and Gavin Bryant to step up this weekend.
“We feel very confident in that group,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, Jones said starting center Dylan Wiesman is “very, very doubtful,” after the senior exited the Texas A&M loss in the first quarter after taking a shot to the head.
“We’ll see how he progresses,” Jones said.
“We’ll see where that goes. Right now, I’d put him into the doubtful category to heavy questionable. As y’all know, things change. He may come in today, and making great progress and and be ready to go.”
The senior has started all six games in 2016 — three at guard, three at center. Junior offensive lineman Coleman Thomas, who started the first two games at center with a bum ankle, will likely take Wiesman’s spot on Saturday.
Jones did not update injuries to linebacker Cortez McDowell or guard Jashon Robertson.
The Volunteers sustained a litany of injures in the loss to Texas A&M, but they were able to erase a double-digit deficit for the fifth time this season.
“The resolve and resiliency of this football team is really been truly remarkable,” Jones said.
“I haven’t been a part of a football team or a season like this.”