College Football News Preview 2020: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Tennessee Volunteers season with what you need to know.
5. College Football News Preview 2020: Tennessee Volunteers Offense 3 Things To Know
– It wasn’t a phenomenal year for the Tennessee offense, but after two disastrous seasons for the attack, averaging 366 yards and 24 points per game wasn’t bad. The O scored more than 24 points against five FBS teams after doing that just three times in the previous two years.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has to get more out of the ground game, but the deep plays were there for a passing attack that averaged more than 14 yards per pass.
And now the quarterback situation will be a big thing early on.
CFN in 60 Video: Tennessee Volunteers Preview
– Jarrett Guarantano was good. He led the team to the bowl win – even with a mediocre game – and he had moments when he looked and played like a potentially special talent to work the O. However, he was maddeningly inconsistent, and that opened the door for Brian Mauer, a talented freshman who failed to hit 50% of his passes with just two touchdown passes and five picks.
On the way is Harrison Bailey, the star of the recruiting class with the next-level pro passing skills to potentially take over the gig right away – he’s going to be the starter if and when Tennessee is playing for really, really big things again.
The quarterback situation will be fine. The receiving corps is another story.
Three of the top four pass catchers from last season are done, with only 6-2, 195-pound Josh Palmer returning among the top guys. Getting USC transfer Velus Jones helps – he caught 81 passes for 1,947 yards and a touchdown in his three seasons with the Trojans – but the pressure is on the recruiting class to step up. 6-5 Malachi Wideman is the best of the group, but Jalin Hyatt and Jimmy Calloway were brought in to play immediate roles, too.
– The offensive line has the potential to be phenomenal as long as all the parts are there. Trey Smith is the star of the show at his left guard spot. He’s the All-SEC anchor and next-level starter, but sophomore Wanya Morris is growing into a special blocker, too, at least tackle.
Morris has to get healthy after having a hip problem, and it stings in a big, big way that star transfer Cade Mays from Georgia didn’t get instant eligibility from the NCAA. No matter what, though, this is going to be one of the team’s biggest strengths with – most likely – several starters back in some form.
The O line with all of the upside has to pave the way for more of a ground attack. Two of the top three running backs return – Ty Chandler and Eric Gray are back, but Tim Jordan is no longer with the team – and a few good options are coming in from the recruiting class.