Jarrett Guarantano was efficient passing the ball, Marquez Callaway came through as a receiver, and a couple of lucky plays made this a game in the first half. But Tim Jordan was the most reliable weapon for the Vols all day. And nobody saw this coming.
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In the offseason, it became clear that Jordan, Madre London and Ty Chandler were going to be the three main backs. But conventional wisdom was that London would be the every down back, Chandler would be the playmaker, and Jordan would be a rotational guy. On Saturday, he became the feature guy after Chandler left the game due to injury.
All Jordan did was rush 20 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. He was quick, elusive, always made the right cuts in the backfield, and demonstrated incredible vision that you don’t usually see in running backs.
In fact, that vision was huge. Tennessee football struggled all day on the offensive line, especially in the interior. So many of those gains were all by Jordan himself and had nothing to do with the line. If you want proof that other backs couldn’t do it, look at London’s stat line. He only had five carries for 12 yards. And before getting hurt, Chandler had four carries for minus-four yards.
Heck, even Jeremy Banks had some carries. But he only had five for 11 yards. So Jordan was just a playmaker with the ball and the only one the team could rely on. He even added 11 receiving yards, giving him 129 overall on the day.
Tennessee football’s situation overall is still not sorted out when it comes to key guys, especially offensive playmakers and especially running backs. But Jordan gave them a glimmer of hope against the West Virginia Mountaineers. He ran tough and hard all game and tried to compensate for so many other issues. His presence could be a great thing for the Vols going forward.