ATHENS, Ga. - Reports from Knoxville, Tenn., that Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen has a hairline fracture of his left collarbone have further clouded questions about his status for Saturday's game at Georgia.
While Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer says "I do expect Casey Clausen will be ready to go,'' the Vols also are preparing backups C.J. Leak, James Banks and receiver Kelley Washington at quarterback.
Fulmer says he was encouraged by Clausen's improved mobility in practice Tuesday. Clausen has not been involved in contact drills this week.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said Wednesday he would not be surprised to see Clausen play, but the coach following the reports from Knoxville.
Clausen, a junior, has made 25 consecutive starts for the Vols.
"I don't think you could keep him off the field if he were in a wheelchair,'' said Tennessee offensive tackle Will Ofenheusle. "He's the toughest quarterback to come through here in a long time.''
Richt believes Leak would provide a similar style of play as Clausen. No matter the quarterback, Richt says Tennessee "is doing just about the same things this year that they've been doing for years and years.''
Said Richt: "They don't change much, and for good reason. They've been winning and they've got the players to execute what they're trying to do. They've got a real solid system, and I don't think they'd change it a whole lot if Casey couldn't play.''
Georgia backup tight end Robert Brannon played with Leak at Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C.
"I think (Leak) can be real effective,'' Brannon said Wednesday, adding that he had seen Leak play behind Clausen on TV this season.
"He still seemed to have his quickness and stuff,'' Brannon said. "He can run, but he's more of a drop-back passer.''