Saturday against Western Kentucky the Vols will be without starting wide receiver Devrin Young. Young will miss 4-6 weeks of the season with a broken hand, which he suffered in practice on Tuesday.
With Young not in the starting line-up that means another member of Team 117 needs to step up.
"He hurt his hand yesterday, went and saw the doctor today," said wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni. "It's plug in the next guy right now. Pick up the rifle and move on and that's the way we have to do it. He was certainly getting better, there's no doubt about it, but now the next guy goes in and we roll."
Those next guys would be Pig Howard and Johnathon Johnson according to offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.
"We talked to all of our guys about being ready to play and preparing every day as if you were going to be the starter," said Bajakian. "It's no different than the group that we saw last Saturday. At the slot position, we're expecting Alton (Pig) Howard to be a playmaker. Johnathon Johnson got some good snaps last Saturday. He should fill in pretty well."
Even the multi-talented Vincent Dallas could be seen in the slot. "Vincent Dallas is a guy who can play multiple positions," continued Bajakian. "He's been around a while so he can really fill in wherever needed. We teach our offense conceptually so it's important for all the guys to know where all the pieces of the puzzle fit in. I think when they learn it conceptually they're able to move around a little more easily."
Young is not only a leader among the wide receivers, but is also the go-to guy for returns and handled all but one on Saturday night. But special teams coach Mark Elder is prepared for Saturday with Young a no-go. "A couple of the guys are excited about the opportunity to show what they have as well," said Elder. "Obviously Devrin is a good player, but we have some other guys that are going to step up and we won't miss a beat."