The Tennessee Vols‘ 2020 season isn’t off to the start that most folks were expecting.
Tennessee is 2-3 after five games with their three losses coming by at least 23 points (that includes an inexplicable 27 point loss to Kentucky).
It’s safe to say that UT has a lot of issues right now. The defensive line play hasn’t been great (which led to the firing of defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh after just four games), the secondary hasn’t lived up to its potential and the middle of the field is seemingly an automatic first down for opposing offenses.
On top of the defensive issues, the offense has also been incredibly stagnant. There’s been no improvement from the quarterback position. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s play-calling has lacked creativity. Across the SEC, we’re seeing offensive explosions from teams like Alabama, Ole Miss, and Florida. But at Tennessee, it feels like the offense is stuck in the mud and going nowhere fast.
That’s why I think the offense needs a shot of life. It needs a new element.
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt needs to do something bold. He needs to take a chance.
It’s time to evelate tight ends coach Joe Osovet to passing game coordinator or co-offensive coordinator.
Osovet is considered one of the godfathers of RPOs. His offensive creativity is the reason Pruitt brought him to Knoxville from New York.
Two years ago, when Pruitt first hired Osovet as an off-the-field assistant, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman (who now works for The Athletic), called Osovet a “rising star”.
“Don’t bet against Osovet rising up fast in the FBS world now that his foot is in the door,” wrote Feldman. “He’s made a lot of fans among his coaching peers.”
Two years later and Osovet is still a relatively unknown assistant. He’s an on-the-field coach now (a promotion he received prior to the start of the 2020 season), but most folks outside of East Tennessee have no idea who he is.
This reminds me a bit of the situation with LSU last season. Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron brought an unknown offensive analyst from the New Orleans Saints named Joe Brady to Baton Rouge. Brady revolutionized LSU’s offense, using his RPO expertise, and the Tigers cruised to a national championship behind one of the most prolific offenses in college football history.
Now, I’m not saying Osovet would have that same impact on Tennessee’s offense (Jarrett Guarantano is no Joe Burrow), but I think it’s clear that the offense needs some sort of spark. I’m a big Jim Chaney fan, but he’s not infallible. If offenses don’t evolve, there’s no way a program can have success.
Osovet could be the change Tennessee’s offense needs (beyond a new quarterback, of course).
Pruitt has a valuable asset on his coaching staff. He needs to take an Orgeron-like leap of faith and use it.
It could end up changing the trajectory of Tennessee’s football program.
Featured image via Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports