No. 25 Tennessee kicks off its season tonight against Georgia Tech, and the Vols got some bad news poured on top of their already existing pile of bad news.
Big Orange made the trip to Atlanta knowing it would be without middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland, Jr., who was lost for the season during fall camp to a knee injury, and left tackle Drew Richmond, who was suspended. Now, just ahead of kickoff, Knoxville News-Sentinel beat writer Blake Toppemeyer has reported that outside linebacker Austin Smith also will not play due to an undisclosed injury.
Additionally, wide receiver Josh Smith, who suffered a shoulder injury during fall camp, will be unavailable tonight. Smith caught 13 passes for 97 yards a year ago.
But the headliner here is Austin Smith (no relation). A redshirt freshman from Buford, Ga., Smith was in line to start against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech’s triple option offense is a challenge for any defense, and doubly so for a defense playing without two of its starting linebackers.
The News-Sentinel reports sophomore Daniel Bituli could be in line to start for Smith at linebacker. He recorded nine tackles last season.