Is the Vols’ Offense Broken Beyond Repair?

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    Photo By Alison P. McNabbTennessee Athletics

    Tennessee’s offense has been bad lately. And not even a change at quarterback could save them on Saturday.

    The Vols desperately needed a victory against South Carolina, and they looked like they could be in for an offensive outburst after the first quarter. Tennessee connected on two field goals and totaled 133 yards of offense in the first quarter of play, holding the Gamecocks scoreless and only letting them total 26 yards of offense.

    For the first time all season, Tennessee had a lead against a Power Five opponent in regulation.

    Then the wheels came off. And not only did they come off, but the engine started smoking and the battery died as well.

    Until their final drive of the game, Tennessee had totaled a measly five yards of offense in the second half.

    You read that right. Just five total yards in the second half.

    Tennessee had eight yards in the third quarter and had actually lost three yards as their total in the fourth before that final drive.

    Tennessee would put together a 73-yard drive in desperation mode, but that possession would ultimately come up fruitless like so many others before it. The Vols would see a touchdown pass get swatted away as time expired, and they fell 15-9 to South Carolina.

    If not for that final drive, Tennessee’s offensive numbers would look downright abysmal from this game. Even with that drive, though, they still aren’t good. Tennessee totaled just 253 yards of offense against South Carolina’s defense, a defense that was allowing 394.5 yards per game coming into this one.

    And if the Vols hadn’t mustered up that drive to end the game, Tennessee would’ve finished with less than 200 yards of offense for their second consecutive game.

    Jarrett Guarantano was named Tennessee’s starting quarterback after Quinten Dormady proved ineffective as the quarterback the last few games. But Tennessee’s offense has proven over the past couple weeks that it doesn’t matter who’s at quarterback: the offense is broken.

    Over the last three games, Tennessee’s offense has totaled just 714 yards and 26 points against UMass, Georgia, and South Carolina. That’s a mere 238 yards per game on offense and just 8.7 points per game.

    Tennessee hasn’t scored a touchdown in 10 quarters of play. This is their longest drought in that regard since 2011. The Vols scored a touchdown at the 2:24 mark of the second quarter against LSU in 2011. They then didn’t score a touchdown against either Alabama or South Carolina and finally ended that drought at the 9:05 mark of the first quarter against MTSU.

    This also marks the first time the Vols have failed to score a touchdown in back-to-back home games since 1980. The Vols were shutout 27-0 by Alabama and beaten 30-6 by Pittsburgh at home in consecutive weeks in 1980.

    No matter what kind of changes have been made to Tennessee’s offense from a player standpoint, the results themselves haven’t. If not for an outburst in the fourth quarter against Florida, the Vols’ stats over the last four weeks would look even worse. As it is, Tennessee is averaging just 11.5 points per game over their last four games after scoring 42 points in both of their first two contests.

    It’s apparent that until some philosophical change is made or the Vols can find some sort of spark on offense or blocking on the offensive line, Tennessee’s offense is broken.

    And with a date against Alabama upcoming, it’s not going to be fixed any time soon.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.