Tennessee’s injury situation is borderline unprecedented as the Vols continue to fall left and right.
Butch Jones didn’t have any specifics to offer about injuries following UT’s 49-10 loss to No. 1 Alabama, but did acknowledge that it’s a “concerning” situation.
“I’m very concerned, but that is football,” Jones said. “When you usually have a run of injuries, it only affects one or two position groups. It’s affected every position group. That’s why this bye week is very important. We have to get our health back. There has to be a sense of urgency for our youngsters to get better and help us on the final stretch after the bye week.”
With a ton of guys down, here’s a recap of what we do know about the notable injuries to help keep everybody straight.
CB Cam Sutton: Injured his ankle in the Ohio game and is out for “an extended period of time.” Sutton remained on crutches and in a walking boot as of Saturday. It seems that his best-case scenario at this point is returning for a bowl game. He would be eligible for a medical hardship should he want to return to UT for a fifth year.
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin: JRM was last seen briefly in the Florida game as he battled a shoulder injury. Butch Jones initially said he anticipated him playing against Georgia, but then later that week said he was undergoing further tests. Multiple reports came out last week saying that he’s done for his career at UT, but Jones denied that earlier this week.
LB Quart’e Sapp: Sapp is out for the year with a knee injury sustained in the Ohio game
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.: Kirkland was carted off during the Battle at Bristol with an ankle injury and hasn’t played since. Jones listed him as a game-time decision for Alabama, but he never dressed out for the game. It seems likely that he’ll be ready to return against South Carolina in two weeks since he did practice some for the Alabama game and appeared to be closer to playing.
LB Cortez McDowell: McDowell went down during the A&M game and was not dressed out for the Alabama game. Jones hasn’t directly addressed his status, so it’s tough to give much of a prognosis for him.
CB Malik Foreman: Foreman didn’t play against Alabama with an undisclosed injury. There’s been no formal update on him either.
S Micah Abernathy: Abernathy pulled up limping on Bo Scarbrough’s 85-yard touchdown run and didn’t return to the game. It looked like he might have pulled something, but that’s unconfirmed.
DT Kahlil McKenzie: McKenzie grabbed his arm and checked himself out of the game in the first half against Alabama and wasn’t seen again.
OT Brett Kendrick: Kendrick got rolled up in the first quarter against Alabama, left the game, got looked at by trainers and never came back in. He was able to stand on the sideline later in the game.
C Dylan Wiesman: Wiesman had to be helped off during the Texas A&M game and didn’t dress out for the Alabama game after Jones listed him as highly questionable to doubtful earlier in the week.
G Jashon Robertson: Robertson dressed out and played on the field-goal unit vs. Alabama, but wasn’t in the starting lineup, and wasn’t inserted on offense even when other injuries piled up.
OT Chance Hall: Hall also left in the first half against Alabama for undisclosed reasons. It wasn’t entirely clear if that was coaches’ decision or an injury, but he wasn’t in the offensive huddle very often later in the game and appeared to know he was done for the game.
DT Kendal Vickers: Vickers left the game for a stint in the second half against Alabama, but was able to return.
DT Alexis Johnson: Johnson was the presumed next man in at defensive tackle for the Alabama game, but he didn’t dress for undisclosed reasons.
The Vols are also without the services of defensive tackle Danny O’Brien (dismissed from the team after the A&M game) and receiver Preston Williams (transferring).
In total, that means the Vols currently have 13 players out who have started at least one game this year – that doesn’t count Vickers since he came back in the game Saturday. That also doesn’t count Sapp as a starter, though he probably would have started at least one game in relief of somebody else who got hurt if he had stayed healthy.
It’s tough to completely excuse UT’s performance against Alabama on Saturday, but injuries were certainly a major factor in what went on.