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Vols may turn to freshman to help shore up defense

2:29 PM, Oct 8, 2012   |    comments
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee's attempt to stop its penchant for allowing big plays could result in an expanded role for freshman safety LaDarrell McNeil.

Volunteers coach Derek Dooley said Monday "there's a good chance" McNeil will make his first career start Saturday at No. 19 Mississippi State. McNeil is listed as the second-team strong safety behind junior Brent Brewer on Tennessee's preliminary depth chart, but Dooley indicated he is continuing to evaluate his personnel and could make some changes later this week.

Tennessee has allowed six touchdown plays of 50 yards or greater over its last three games, with five of those long gains coming on running plays. Five of those six touchdowns went at least 70 yards. The Vols are allowing 5.17 yards per carry, the most of any SEC team.

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