When Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt addressed the media ahead of fall camp, he sounded incredibly optimistic about UT’s offensive line.
Pruitt told reporters that he was “excited” about the offensive line’s potential, despite their struggles in 2018.
Quote of the presser so far?
Jeremy Pruitt: “I’m excited about our 2019 offensive line.”
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) August 1, 2019
Just over a week later, however, Pruitt doesn’t sound nearly as optimistic.
On Saturday, after Tennessee’s eighth fall practice, Pruitt said he’s nowhere close to finding UT’s five starting offensive linemen.
Jeremy Pruitt on finding the starting five on the OL in camp so far: “I don’t think we’re anywhere close.”
— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 10, 2019
So far during fall camp, the Vols have been working with various combinations to find their best five offensive linemen.
The success of those various combinations is largely dependent on the status of Trey Smith, who is trying to to return to the field after once again dealing the effects of blood clots in his lungs.
QUESTION: Why do Vol fans want Trey Smith back on the field so badly?
ANSWER: ⬇️⬇️😳 pic.twitter.com/CpEEpZ26XY
— Caleb Noe (@wvltCaleb) August 10, 2019
If Smith is able to play, he’ll be entrenched as the team’s starting right guard. For now, Smith has been working as the team’s right guard, with true freshman Wanya Morris at left tackle. Brandon Kennedy has been working as the team’s center and Marcus Tatum is trying to hold off true freshman Darnell Wright for the starting right tackle job (it’s probably only a matter of time before Wright overtakes Tatum).
There’s been a lot of shuffling at left guard, with K’Rojhn Calbert, Jerome Carvin and Riley Locklear all receiving first team reps.
It certainly appears that Tennessee has the talent to have a solid offensive line in 2019. The additions of Morris and Wright, along with the return of Kennedy, plus the potential return of Smith, gives the Vols four players that have the talent to start on nearly every team in the SEC.
If Tennessee can find some consistency at left guard, it’s possible that UT’s offensive line goes from a weakness to a strength (as long as everyone stays healthy).
For now, though, it’s apparent that the offensive line isn’t anywhere close to where Pruitt wants it to be.
But that’s what fall camp is for — evaluating positions and improving.
Pruitt has high expectations, which means he’s probably never going to be satisfied with any of the position groups.
And that’s exactly what fans should want in a head coach.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports