Wes Rucker’s a good beat writer covering the Tennessee Vols, so if you’re interested on getting a handle on the team that many consider to be Georgia’s greatest challenge in the East this season, you might want to take a minute to read his assessment of where things stand.
To me, there aren’t many surprises contained in his report. I expect the Vols to be improved, because the overall talent level has increased. But depth has to be a major concern. This is a team that looks like it could be easily derailed with just a few key injuries… some of which may have already happened in preseason camp.
Tennessee loses its second experienced offensive lineman to a season ending injury in two weeks.
For all the buzz, there’s still a potentially serious Achilles heel for that juggernaut known as 2015 Tennessee.
With the season-opener against Bowling Green less than three weeks away, the Vols have yet to finalize a starting five in the offensive line. They’re not even close. And for all the talent and depth elsewhere on the roster, the uncertainties up front on offense are cause for caution…
… UT entered preseason practice with some uncertainty along the offensive front, and things have only gotten worse. Starting guard Marcus Jackson, a fifth-year senior, suffered a biceps injury that required surgery. Since then, other dominoes have fallen because of a series of relatively minor injuries.
Jackson’s absence is a big hit. He was the Vols’ most experienced offensive lineman. Jackson has started 17 games in his college career, including 12 of UT’s 13 games in 2014. He also could play multiple positions along the line.
Because of Jackson’s loss and other developments, the unit is in a state of flux. Offensive line coach Don Mahoney is trying a number of different combinations in order to find the right five starters plus a couple of backups who can fill in at multiple positions in the event of injury once the season starts.
So, all things considered, which problem to solve would you rather have right now, Tennessee’s offensive line or Georgia’s quarterbacks?
Does anybody else get the feeling that the typical Tennessee player is lacking in certain life experiences that come normally to most people in college? Or is it just that SOD and Booch happen to be weirdly detail-obsessed?
Pat Forde describes the power shift from the SEC East to the SEC West took place in a dizzying 41-day stretch that ended with this turn of events:
On Jan. 12, Lane Kiffin abruptly left Tennessee after a single season, and within three days the Volunteers catastrophically closed in on Derek Dooley as his replacement.
From that point on, the SEC West was in charge of America’s strongest football conference. The East has been squashed ever since.
Damn it, Tennessee.
Eh, who am I kidding here? It’s been totally worth it.
Great recruiting two years in a row is one thing. Having solid depth is a completely different matter.
But there’s nothing to see here, I’m sure. Move along.
UPDATE: This is spot on.
In perhaps what is an early sign of sphincter tightening, Booch plays the bash-the-media-for-doing-their-jobs card.
Or maybe things are really getting back to normal in Knoxville.