The bye week – or “work week” as Butch Jones calls it – is a chance for players to take a step forward in their development. While the focus has certainly been on Georgia, it also serves as somewhat of a miniature training camp where players can work on their fundamentals and prove that they’re ready for a bigger load going forward.
Jones has regularly said that the Vols need more depth and need more players to step up if they are going to be competitive in the SEC going forward. Here’s a look at five players who have shown some potential and could be ready for the next step as the Vols step into SEC play starting next week.
Wide receiver Josh Malone
It’s been an up-and-down journey since arriving on campus for Malone, a former 5-star recruit. From his huge breakout effort in the Orange and White Game this spring to the frustrating moments in training camp this fall, Malone appears to be on his way back up after snagging a couple of catches at No. 4 Oklahoma and drawing praise from coaches and teammates this week. His chance to shine may come sooner than others on this list. There’s a legitimate chance that he could start at UGA with Von Pearson (ankle) out and Josh Smith (ankle) questionable as well.
It wouldn’t be accurate to say the Vols are hurting at receiver at this point, but they need a few guys to step up with Pearson and Smith down and Malone is a good candidate to do just that. If he can develop and the Vols get everybody else healthy in a few weeks, UT’s passing game can take the next step forward.