Tennessee football may be fully healthy for its 2018 opener against West Virginia. Here are the injuries for the Volunteers and Mountaineers.
After two years of brutal injuries, Tennessee football may be healthier than it has ever been to start the 2018 season. Maybe it’s just luck, or maybe Jeremy Pruitt’s methods, including changes in practice habits, overhaul of the medical staff and addition of Craig Fitzgerald, actually did make a difference for the Vols.
Either way, UT enters its opener against the West Virginia Mountaineers with the upper hand when it comes to the injury front. It seemed like Butch Jones’s whole career was about seeing early injuries and then prematurely making excuses for a loss.
Dana Holgorsen, meanwhile, seems to be taking up that mantra. WVU should have the better team, but he’s already been laying out excuses for a potential loss, including the practice schedule, the number of Power Five opponents his team has and the depth chart revelations of the Vols. Now, with a few minor injuries, he may have more to discuss.
Here is how each team shakes our right now on the injury front. You can see the full updated list for every team here at USA TODAY.
Out for the game
- OL Chance Hall, Jr. (Returning from 2017 knee injury)
- WR Jauan Jennings, Jr. (Dealing with knee injury)
- OL Trey Smith, So. (Recently recovered from blood clots in lungs)
West Virginia Mountaineers
Out for the game
- TE Mike O’Laughlin, Fr. (Torn ACL, out for the season)
- WR Dillon Spalding, Fr. (Severe ankle injury, likely out for the season)
- CB Jake Long, So. (Dislocated wrist, out indefinitely)
To be fair to this report, we should give it context. In Tennessee football’s case, all but Chance Hall are almost certain to start. Trey Smith was already listed as a starter on the depth chart, and Jennings was listed as a potential starter. Based on what Jeremy Pruitt said, I’m sure they’re good to go. Hall is likely going to be fine as well.
Meanwhile, West Virginia’s injuries may be a more sure thing, but none of them are serious. Mike O’Laughlin and Dillon Spalding are both freshmen who were likely to almost never see the field this year anyway. Meanwhile, Jake Long was a backup cornerback who would be useful for depth down the stretch of the season, so he’s not that crucial in this game.
Overall, as you would expect, both teams are largely healthy in this game when it comes to their key players. And that makes for an exciting opener. Barring injury within the actual game, it doesn’t look like that will be a factor in who wins Saturday.