Losing these Volunteers would be disastrous for Tennessee football this year.
Key injuries can be devastating for a team that is still trying to rebuild its roster. Tennessee football learned that the past two years. Losing Bryce Thompson and Daniel Bituli is a huge reason for the Vols’ 0-2 start last year. Trey Smith’s blood clots returning the year before is what knocked Jeremy Pruitt’s first team out of bowl contention.
This year, the Vols are in much better position to deal with such losses. They have more depth, their backups are more experienced, and they aren’t as dependent on a few key veterans to make sure they can continually produce.
However, they still aren’t at the level they need to be to become a powerhouse. As a result, losses in certain areas could once again be devastating for Tennessee football, and in a grueling 10-game SEC-only schedule, Pruitt needs to do anything he can to avoid it.
Obviously, there’s only so much he can do, though. Injuries are part of the game, and he can’t control everything his players do off the field. What does that mean for UT, though, and what do they have to hope for?
In this post, we’re going to break that all down by listing the players the Vols can least afford to lose. This is solely based on talent value above replacement, so it’s not about talent alone, and it’s not about depth alone. Both things are taken into account.
Still, players with a certain level of talent will obviously stand out enough to likely make this list no matter what. Given the roster he inherited and the recruiting he was able to do, Pruitt only has a few players with generational talent on the roster.
Which of those players along with the ones with limited depth behind them make this list? How crucial are they to the season? Let’s go ahead and break all of that down. These are the 10 Vols Tennessee football can least afford to lose for the 2020 season.