Tennessee’s offense is often viewed as a pass-happy group that only scores from long distance and is more gimmicky than fundamentally sound. That’s not true.
The Vols are at their best when they control the line of scrimmage. That was readily evident in some Tennessee’s biggest wins in 2022 and also apparent with a simple glance at the stat sheet. The Vols were sixth in the SEC last season with 199 yards rushing per game. That’s not bad. However, it was almost much better.
Tennessee football was less than five yards per game away from being the third-best rushing team in the league. Clearly, running the football isn’t just an add on for Tennessee. It’s imperative.
The Vols will lose their best offensive lineman from last season. Darnell Wright has been an offseason star and may have worked his way into the first round of the NFL Draft. UT will also be without Jerome Carvin, who was an under-appreciated player that started every game for them at left guard last season.
Center Cooper Mays will lead the unit this year. The senior was named preseason All-SEC before the 2022 season and started every game that year. Senior Ollie Lane and junior Parker Ball will get most of the second-team snaps during spring camp.
At right guard, the Vols are also in good hands, where senior Javontez Spraggins will handle first-team snaps after starting 12 games last season.
There could be an interesting battle brewing at right tackle to replace Wright. Jeremiah Crawford and Gerald Mincey are expected to battle for playing time this spring in a bout that could last until fall camp.
At the other tackle position, John Campbell is expected to get an early shot at first-team snaps after transferring from Miami. To his right, Andrej Karic, who transferred from Texas, is expected to be the Vols first-team left guard. Lane and Addison Nichols are also expected to compete for playing time at left guard.
Losing a player like Wright, who could be one of the most coveted NFL prospects in the country isn’t easy. However, it seems as if the Vols are well equipped to handle his loss.
This is part of a series of position-by-position previews for Tennessee football heading into spring practice, which begins on March 20.