Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Tennessee Volunteers season with what you need to know.
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
– What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Tennessee Previews 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
2018 Record: 5-7 overall, 2-6 in SEC
Head Coach: Jeremy Pruitt, 2nd year, 5-7
5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TENNESSEE OFFENSE
– It’s not there yet, but everyone is back. The offense finished last in the SEC in yards – averaging 326 yards per game – was last in passing efficiency and last in rushing. There wasn’t any pop or explosion, it stalled way too often, and it only managed more than 24 points just once against an FBS team. However, again … (almost) everyone is back.
– Jarrett Guarantano appears to be ready to take the next step forward. Tennessee might always be on the hunt for a grad transfer quarterback – Jalen Hurts would’ve been interesting – Guarantano has the upside to do far more in his junior year.
He hit 62% of his passes for only 1,907 yards and 12 scores, but the key to his game are the three picks – he didn’t make mistakes. Redshirt freshman JT Shrout is the set No. 2 with good size and the mobility to add something different to the mix.
– The receivers look the part, and they have the speed to bust out big plays for new passing game coordinator Tee Martin, but now it has to happen on a more consistent basis. Marques Callaway led the team with just 37 catches for 592 yards, Josh Palmer was second on the team with 484 yards averaging over 21 yards per grab, and Jauan Jennings is a 6-3 No. 1 target who wasn’t healthy throughout last year – catching 30 passes for 438 yards and three scores.
2017 leading receiver Brandon Johnson needs to rise back up after a mediocre 14-catch year, and there’s a whole lot of veteran depth to work into the rotation. The tight end situation is set with former JUCO transfer Dominick Wood-Anderson back after catching 17 grabs with two scores.
– The SEC-worst running game that averaged just 129 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry could use a whole lot more pop. Blame the blocking with two decent backs who should and could do a whole lot more.
201-pound junior Ty Chandler averaged over five yards per carry with 630 yards and four scores, and 206-pound junior Tim Jordan averaged four yards per pop with 522 yards. Chandler will catch a little more and is the better back, but the two will work in a rotation again with 218-pound sophomore Jeremy Banks a nice No. 3. But now …
– The blocking needs to be a whole lot better. It struggled for the running game and allowed way too many plays in the backfield. The tackle situation is one of the team’s most interesting battles on a line that will undergo a whole lot of shuffling in spring ball.
Trey Smith is an NFL-caliber left tackle talent, but he’s got health issues and is questionable at best to return. Marcus Tatum was last year’s starter, and there are other options, but superstar recruits Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris might be too good to keep off the field.
The interior is set with 313-pound junior Ryan Johnson moving from center to one guard spot, and 6-5, 270-pound junior Jahmir Johnson will work on the other side. Junior Nathan Neihaus can see time at center after starting there at times last season, but he’ll be at tackle with former Alabama transfer Brandon Kennedy taking over in the middle coming off a knee injury.