The Tennessee Vols aren’t going to beat the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.
I think even the most optimistic Vol fans agree with that statement.
Georgia is simply too athletic for Tennessee to have a chance in this game.
But just because the Volunteers will likely get boat raced by the Bulldogs, doesn’t mean we won’t be looking for improvement from Jeremy Pruitt’s squad.
Specifically from one person in particular — offensive coordinator Tyson Helton.
Helton caught a lot of flack on social media for his play calling efforts in Tennessee’s loss to Florida. And I completely understand the frustration. The Vols ran 79 offensive plays against the Gators and 54 of those plays were rushing attempts. I get that Tennessee wanted to establish the run against a team that had struggled defending the run, but when that failed to work (and it failed early in the game) there was no adjustment by Helton. The Vols continued to try to run the ball between the tackles to no avail.
Obviously Helton doesn’t deserve all the blame for Tennessee’s lack of offensive success. Helton is just the one calling the plays, he’s not responsible for the execution of the plays. The players certainly have to shoulder some blame.
But I don’t think Helton put UT’s players in a position to succeed.
At the same time, I recognize that Helton is still figuring out this whole play calling thing. This is the first time in his career that he’s solely responsible for a program’s offensive attack (I know offensive line coach Will Friend has a lot of input, but this is Helton’s baby). And we’re only four games into Helton’s career as a primary play caller. It’s going to take some time (a popular refrain in Knoxville these days).
However, we still need to see Helton show a willingness to adapt his game plan. If the flow of the game dictates that outside runs and short passes are the way to go, then that’s what has to be done.
There’s a good chance the Vols will face a large deficit against Georgia on Saturday. How will Helton respond? Will he alter his play calling? Or will he stick to his guns and refuse to adapt?
If Helton does the latter, it doesn’t bode well for his future as an offensive coordinator. But if he lets the flow of the game dictate his calls, then I think it will be a redeeming moment for the former USC quarterbacks coach — regardless of the outcome of the game.
At this point, all Vol fans can hope for from Helton is for him to put Tennessee’s players in the best possible position to succeed.
He’ll get another chance on Saturday to prove he’s the man to do it at UT.
Featured image via Knox News