Tennessee has a potent air game, but it just got a little weaker due to Bret Smith (39 REC, 453 YDS, 11.6 AVG, 5 TD) being ruled academically ineligible for the post-season contest against Penn State.
The Vols gained an average of 274.3 passing YPG this season, ranking them 15th in the nation. Robert Meachem (67 REC, 1265 YDS, 18.9 AVG, 11 TD) led Tennessee in receiving, while Jayson Swain was second with (42 REC, 604 YDS, 14.4 AVG, 6 TD). Smith was the teamâ€™s third-most productive receiver and will be missed.
Look for sophomore Lucas Taylor (13 REC, 98 YDS, 7.5 AVG, 0 TD) and freshman Quintin Hancock (2 REC, 29 YDS, 14.5 AVG, 0 TD) to be asked to step up for this post-season game. Four other wide receiversâ€”juniors Bill Grimes, Drew Tardy and Casey Woods and freshman Slick Shelleyâ€”are on the squad but saw no action this year.
QB Erik Ainge (66.9 COMP%, 2722 YDS, 19 TD, 8 INT), although injured this season, has been extremely efficient and accurate. Heâ€™ll need to be a bit more resourceful with Smith out. Heâ€™ll certainly be tested by Penn Stateâ€™s extremely tough â€œD,â€? which is led by linebacker Paul Posluszny.
Tennessee will play the Penn State Nittany Lions in Tampa, Florida, on January 1, 2007 at 11 am.