2. Vols’ ability to break off big runs against Georgia State’s defense
Tim Jordan and Carlin Fils-Aime are fundamental backs. That’s not going to be necessary against the Georgia State Panthers, who were pretty good at stopping the run last year unless the run broke past the line of scrimmage when you look at advanced stats. The reason it was bad was because players turned five-yard runs into touchdown runs.
We already talked about the expectation of GSU’s defensive line to be much more improved this year. However, there is also the expectation for Tennessee football to be able to exploit this Georgia State weakness from last year. And it looks like they have the horses to be able to do that as well.
Ty Chandler is the star running back in the Vols’ system who can break off long runs, and he figures to be the feature guy this year. Meanwhile, freshman phenom Eric Gray, who was a four-star from Memphis and targeted for his speed and explosive runs, burst onto the scene in the offseason. Now he’s third on the depth chart behind just Chandler and Jordan.
In this game, Chandler and Gray should both get the chance to make huge plays. Jeremy Pruitt likes to go three to four deep on running backs, and Jim Chaney likes to rely on his elite skill players. There’s no better way to do both things against Georgia State’s defense than turn to Gray and Chandler.
Despite expectations of using a deep passing game to keep this one under control, the Vols will need to turn to the run at times. When they do, this is a unique opportunity for them to get more big plays given GSU’s defensive issues. So they need to capitalize.