Tennessee football: 5 things you need to see in The Orange and White Game
Tennessee heads into the annual Orange and White Game on Saturday having finished another step in coach Jeremy Pruitt’s major overhaul of the Vols’ roster.
The Vols should look different from a year ago after Pruitt closed his first spring practice as a head coach. The Vols were too light and not strong enough at this time in 2018. After a year of a much more solid strength and conditioning program, these Vols should look bigger and stronger. However, that’s not that needs to be seen when the Vols wrap up spring practice.
Here are five things that would be incredibly encouraging for the Vols as they close spring drills:
1. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano needs to look comfortable
Stability has not been Guarantano’s friend during his UT career. The redshirt junior has played for two coaches and three offensive coordinators. However, there’s reason to believe that the most recent change in UT’s offensive hierarchy could be the right step in Guarantano’s career.
UT offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who was hired to replace Tyson Helton, is a master at developing offenses that fit what his quarterbacks can do best. The early reviews have been good for Guarantano, who should also benefit from an improved offensive line compared to last year’s team.
2. A quarterback not named Jarrett needs to have a nice showing
Guarantano has certainly had his fair share of injuries. The Vols will need a solid backup this season in case Guarantano goes down. With expectations rising, the Vols don’t need a quarterback injury to derail their season. The most likely backup is redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout followed by mid-term enrollee Brian Maurer.
3. Jauan Jennings needs to make plays
Jennings has been labeled as one of UT’s emotional leaders despite not being very productive. Jennings was only able to start 5 games last season due to nagging injuries. After showing so much promise early in his career, it’s time for Jennings to live up to the hype. The Vols don’t have another receiver — or playmaker for that matter — who can be as physically dominating as Jennings. It’s time for him to put that on display full-time.
4. Tennessee’s offensive line needs to dominate
The Vols came into last season with serious concerns about their line. Those concerns turned out to be well founded. Now, some of those younger Vols are more experienced and should be bigger and stronger, which is what Pruitt wants. The Vols have also added 5-star mid-term enrollee Wanya Morris. With a defensive front that is rebuilding, there’s no reason to think UT’s offensive line can’t grab the spotlight Saturday.
5. Tennessee’s defensive front needs to make some plays
I certainly don’t expect UT’s defensive front to win the majority of the battles on Saturday. However, some game-changing plays are reasonable to hope for. There are still a few holdovers from last year’s team that lost a slew of contributors. However, it would be nice for UT fans to see a new name or two emerge.
Here are some defensive linemen to keep an eye on: Emmit Gooden, John Mincey, Matthew Butler, Kingston Harris, Kurott Garland and LaTrell Bumphus, a converted tight end.
As for linebackers, Deandre Johnson, Kivon Bennett, Jordan Allen, Will Ignont, Shanon Reid and Quavaris Crouch seem like the most likely contributors.