There is no debate that Tennessee football’s best playmaker and in general best player on offense is Ty Chandler heading into the season. That makes the running back position a crucial one for the Vols in 2019.
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However, there’s more to it than that. The Vols have bodies at running back behind Chandler but limited proven production. They need Tim Jordan or Carlin Fils-Aime to take a step forward as playmakers, and they need Jeremy Banks to become reliable when holding the ball.
If those two things happen, then Jeremy Pruitt will have the exact system he dreamed of at running back when taking over. However, the Vols will still be in a bit of trouble, as they are not yet as deep as they would like to be at the position.
After all, there’s no backup power back yet, and the starting power back remains unproven. Chandler at least has a backup in Eric Gray this year, though, and Jordan and Fils-Aime make for two fundamental backs. So one will be able to back up the other.
That makes the Vols deeper at the position this year than they were in 2018, and they still have their proven playmaker. So the situation overall is better at running back, but there’s not a lot of improvement overall.
Tennessee football’s issues at running back can get a lot of help from the improvement on the line. However, as Chandler showed last year, great backs find ways to be great without their line. The Vols have one guy like that. They need to get him the ball more this year and find at least two more players to emerge with those abilities. That will make this unit complete.