Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt has cited his team’s lack of depth several times in recent weeks as one of the main reasons for UT’s sluggish start to the season.
But how exactly is a lack of depth hurting the Vols?
Often times, when depth is mentioned, the first thought folks have is how it pertains to the depth chart. Who is the next man up? Who fills in when a player is hurt?
But a lack of depth hurts way more than just the depth chart.
Pruitt did his best to explain to reporters on Monday how a lack of depth has specifically hurt Tennessee this season.
Pruitt: “There’s several positions where we probably lack depth, and not necessarily just in numbers but just in experience. We’ve got some younger guys that haven’t had an opportunity to play. Really, what happens is, is like when Alontae Taylor gets a hip flexor that he’s had bothering him for a couple of weeks, and then Warren Burrell turns his ankle on Wednesday, and you’ve got guys that play on the kickoff cover team or the punt return team or the punt team and now they’re out, so it forces guys like Jauan Jennings or Josh Palmer to have to start doubling up. That’s where just sheer numbers hurts you a little bit there, and it probably lessens some of the reps that you take at practice.”
Not having quality depth goes beyond just hurting the depth chart. It creates a snowball effect that severely affects the entire team.
As Pruitt noted, when players on special teams are out, it forces offensive and defensive starters to play and practice on special teams. As a result of the extra special teams reps, it means some practice time might be lost for those players are their normal positions. If you’re not practicing, you’re not getting better. But at the same time, Pruitt can’t have his players getting beat up during the week, especially when there’s a lack of depth.
A lack of depth is more detrimental to a football team than folks probably realize. And it’s a big reason the Vols are 1-4 right now.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, there’s no quick cure. The only way depth can be added is through recruiting. That means it’s going to take a few years, and a few recruiting cycles, before the Volunteers have the depth they need in order to consistently compete in the SEC.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports