Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley calls it an 11th-hour decision whether or not he starts James Stone at center Saturday against Memphis.
The true freshman from Nashville has been sharing first-team reps this week in practice with Darin Gooch, who has started the last six games. Gooch, a sophomore junior college transfer, took over when Cody Pope was injured against Oregon. Pope started the first two games after earning the job during fall camp.
“Game time,” Dooley said of his final call at center. “If I see three fumbled snaps in warmups, I might say, ‘Boys, we’re going to wait one more week.’ But he’s going to be a really good center and I don’t want to wait until March.”
Stone is left-handed, so his work with the quarterbacks the last two weeks has been crucial to securing the all-important snap.
“It’s the left-handed dilemma, and he’s never snapped before,” Dooley said. “So it’s a little different than the way Gooch snaps. There are two or three different ways you can snap the football.
“It’s hard, because you’ve got a right-hander and a left-hander. You get in the habit of catching the snap one way. I wish he was right-handed; it would have been a lot easier. But he’s not.”
Stone, meanwhile, fits right in on Tennessee’s youthful offensive line. He started at left guard against UAB, LSU and Georgia before the coaching staff saw the need to begin preparing him for the transfer to center.
That transition may begin Saturday night in Memphis.
UT-OLE MISS TICKETS AVAILABLE
Tickets are available for Tennessee’s Nov. 13 Homecoming game against Mississippi.
The price is $60 and can be purchased via UTtix.com, over the phone at 865/656-1200 or 800/332-VOLS (8657), or at the ticket counter. Because of construction at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Athletics Department Ticket Office is temporarily located on the northwest concourse level of the arena directly above the old ticket office location. Office hours Monday through Friday are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.
Kickoff is set for noon.
VOL NETWORK MEMPHIS RADIO AFFILIATE, STADIUMCAST
The Vol Network’s radio affiliate in Memphis is ESPN Radio WMFS. The all-sports station is simulcast on 92.9 FM and 680 AM. The Vol Network also plans to provide a “Stadiumcast” broadcast at the Liberty Bowl that will be delayed for television and live for fans in the stands. The frequency for StadiumCast will be 96.5 on the FM dial. “The Kickoff Call-In Show” begins coverage of Tennessee at Memphis at 5:30 p.m. Central (6:30 Eastern) on Saturday.
LIBERTY BOWL ACCESS, PARKING FOR UT-MEMPHIS GAME
Patrons to the University of Memphis vs. University of Tennessee football game should plan their routes ahead of time as stadium parking fills quickly. Patrons should arrive at least 2 hours prior to kick-off, which is at 7 p.m. Central time. Gates for fairgrounds/stadium parking open at 8 a.m. and spaces are $10 each. There will also be off-site parking at Tobey Park northeast of Central Ave at Hollywood for $5 each.
For more parking and tailgating information log onto www.thelibertybowlstadium.com