The Vols looked like an offensive juggernaut in the first half of their win against the severely over-matched Austin Peay Governors this past weekend.
One thing, however, is certain — we saw very little of what Tennessee has in store on the offensive side of the ball this season. Of course there was no reason for Tennessee to put too much of their offense on film, against a clearly inferior opponent. Why give Western Kentucky, Oregon or any of Tennessee’s future SEC opponents an extra game to study? Especially if it’s not necessary.
Butch Jones and the Volunteers may not have a choice this Saturday. Western Kentucky will be Jones’ first legitimate test as the Vols’ head coach, so you should expect to see much more of Tennessee’s offensive identity against the Hilltoppers.
Against Austin Peay we saw the base offense out of which the Vols will be operating this season. We saw an up-tempo, no huddle offense that plays fast and likes to run the ball, which is something we already knew to expect from Tennessee.
On Monday Butch said he wants to see more “splash plays” from his offense and more vertical running. He wasn’t happy with the lateral movements from the running backs, nor was he happy with the entire tempo of the offense.
What I, and others, saw as fast, Jones saw as not fast enough.
When the Volunteers take the field this Saturday you should expect to see the Vols ramp up the tempo, take more shots down the field and run the ball between the tackles efficiently.
You also may see a few things you’re not expecting.
The ever-popular beast package, which the Vols ran last season effectively, is apparently still in the playbook according to Jones.
Jones: We started working AJ Johnson in some different sets and some linebackers too. So you will see those packages to continue to grow.
Last season A.J. Johnson ran the ball 12 times for 21 yards, scoring six touchdowns.
The Volunteers were asked about the beast package constantly during the spring and fall, and while it was never confirmed, it was also never denied.
Something else you could be seeing from the Vols is a wildcat package.
According to Jones the team has been using Alton “Pig” Howard and defensive back Justin Coleman in the wildcat formation.
We are working on that with Alton Howard and Justin Coleman a little bit too. You will see some nuances as we go on if they can handle the volume, we will increase the volume. But it comes down to execution.
Even though you should expect to see much more of the Volunteers’ playbook on Saturday, it won’t all be revealed. With a game looming against Oregon, you don’t want to revel all your secrets just yet.
- Jones acknowledged there’s a chance defensive lineman Jacques Smith could play on Saturday.
- Defensive lineman Corey Vereen won’t play against Western Kentucky, but he’s ahead of schedule according to Jones.
- Linebacker Curt Maggitt practiced in full on Tuesday. He’s still considered questionable for Saturday.