KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s injury situation was worse than expected when Saturday’s game against Alabama kicked off, and before the first quarter finished, the Vols apparently had lost yet another player.
Tennessee was down seven starters when the game began, and that led to four players making the first starts of their careers.
On defense, sophomore defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie filled the vacancy created when fifth-year senior Danny O’Brien was dismissed from the team on Monday.
Elliott Berry made his first start at linebacker, as sophomore Darrin Kirkland Jr. did not return from the ankle injury he suffered on Sept. 10 against Virginia Tech as coach Butch Jones had hoped.
Also, linebacker Cortez McDowell, who had started the previous four games, did not return from the undisclosed injury that knocked him out of last Saturday’s game at Texas A&M.
Malik Foreman, who started the past three games in place of injured cornerback Cam Sutton, was a surprise scratch from the lineup.
That led to true freshman Baylen Buchanan making his first start at cornerback.
On offense, center Dylan Wiesman missed the start after missing what appeared to be a head injury at Texas A&M. Coleman Thomas, who started the season at center before ankle injuries sidelined him, was plugged back in to snap the ball.
Vols redshirt freshman guard Venzell Boulware made his first career start as Jashon Robertson was not in the starting lineup after getting knocked out of the Texas A&M game.
It marked the fifth different offensive line combination Tennessee has started this season.
The Vols’ line suffered another injury in the first quarter when starting left tackle Brett Kendrick had to be helped from the field at the 6:46 mark of the first quarter.
CB Cam Sutton (ankle) indefinitely
CB Malik Foreman (unknown) unknown
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder) indefinitely
LB Quart’e Sapp (knee) out for season
LB Cortez McDowell (unknown) unknown
OG Jashon Robertson (unknown) unknown
OC Dylan Wiesman (head/shoulder) unknown
OT Brett Kendrick (leg) unknown
*DT Danny O’Brien dismissed