2. Offensive line…in general
Is there any question about this one. We’ve railed against it, just like everybody else has, all offseason. And yes, despite the improvements, it is a concern for Tennessee football heading into Jeremy Pruitt’s second season.
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To be fair to the positives, there are three new four-stars and a five-star recruit in the system. Brandon Kennedy is healthy again. And the entire rest of the unit has a full year’s worth of experience in a pro-style offense.
At the same time, we know that Will Friend is a solid offensive line coach. Jim Chaney being back is very helpful too. His role is solely being an offensive coordinator, but his area of expertise is still the offensive line. So that’s a big plus.
However, Trey Smith is still out indefinitely. Drew Richmond transferred out. Chance Hall was forced to retire. Joining him were Eric Crosby and incoming recruit Melvin McBride. Simply put, in addition to being historically bad last year, the unit has had a ton of unexpected turnover heading into this year.
So yes, there is plenty of reason to worry about the offensive line heading into 2019. We know based on what happened last year that it could derail the whole season. There is now ample evidence of what a bad offensive line can cause by itself.
As a result, despite all the positives, there are still numerous concerns. And they as a whole make for a big concern up front overall, which is why this unit is so high on the list. It’s got to take a big step forward if the Vols are going to do so.