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Final Thoughts from Tennessee’s Loss to Florida

Offensive Line

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

Tennessee’s offensive line was a nightmare on Saturday. This very well may be the worst offensive line the Vols have ever fielded, and that’s really saying something considering some of the units that have taken the field over the past 10 years.

Here’s what I tracked from Saturday:

Allowed pressure: 9

Positive run-block: 18

Negative run-block: 36

As a result of Saturday’s performance, Tennessee’s offensive line is ranked second-worst in the SEC through four weeks of the season according to Pro Football Focus. The Vols ran for 156 yards on Saturday, and 142 of Tennessee’s rushing yards came after contact, compacting the struggles. The group has to do a better job of finishing blocks and understanding their assignments on each play. As Pruitt mentioned on Monday, they’re really struggling in seven-man protection.

A big criticism from Tennessee fans was the way the offensive line reacted to Guarantano being hit low by Cece Jefferson. No offensive lineman got in the face of Jefferson after what some considered a dirty hit, and that rubbed fans the wrong way.

I’ll stick up for the lineman in this situation, as you can see in the screenshot below, four linemen are engaged in blocks. Trey Smith is the only one watching the hit as it happens. If anyone, Smith should have stood up for his quarterback, but to get on to the offensive line as a whole for not defending their quarterback isn’t warranted.

Along the goal line, Tyson Helton and Pruitt broke out a new jumbo formation, bringing in K’Rohjn Calbert and Marcus Tatum as extra blockers. They even moved Smith from left tackle to offset right behind the center next to Calbert. Seen below, it did produce a touchdown, and I would expect to see more of it when Tennessee is near the goal line.

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