Last season, the Vols lost a great deal of experience on their 2016 roster thanks to injuries. Tennessee lost 52 total career starts from players who missed the 2016 season either before it began or ended up being out for the year during it. No team in the FBS had more starts lost to injury last season.
Now just one game in to the 2017 season and the Vols are well on their way to duplicating and even surpassing that number this year.
Tennessee has already lost offensive lineman Chance Hall and linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. for the season because of injuries. And Jauan Jennings is at least expected to miss significant time if not the rest of the year as well. And all three of them are big blows to the Vols’ depth and roster.
Chance Hall had 13 career starts entering this season. Kirkland had 16, and Jennings had 16 as well counting the start he made in the Vols’ 2017 season opener. That means the Vols have for sure lost 29 career starts for the whole season and potentially 45 starts if Jennings is out the whole year. Even if he isn’t, he’s likely to miss a significant chunk of the season, which would be bad enough for Tennessee’s offense.
The Vols are just one significant injury away from completely surpassing their starts lost to injury total from last year. The only difference so far this year has been the number of injuries.
Tennessee lost over half a dozen players for extended periods of time last year because of injuries. Cam Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Austin Smith, Quart’e Sapp, Shy Tuttle, Kahlil McKenzie, and Darrin Kirkland Jr. all either missed the entire season or large portions of it because of injury. Even players like Alvin Kamara and Malik Foreman missed a handful of games because of injuries.
So far this year, Tennessee hasn’t had that type of number duplicated despite the large number of starts lost. But it’s only the second week of the regular season, too.
The Vols don’t need a repeat of last year when it comes to injuries. But right now, they’re on pace to produce similar if not worse results than last season in that regard.