Tennessee was without several key players in its 24-13 loss to Arkansas on Saturday night.
The secondary was severely hampered because junior starting corner Alontae Taylor and senior starting nickleback Shawn Shamburger did not make the trip to Fayetteville. Taylor didn’t make the trip due to a hamstring injury, while Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said “Shamburger just didn’t make the trip.”
“Alontae has been hurt, pretty much the entire year,” Pruitt told reporters following the game. “He pulled his hamstring back in fall camp. He’s worked really hard, and I know he’s frustrated, trying to get to where he can play full speed.”
Kenneth George Jr. started in place of Taylor and did not perform well. He was benched later in the game for sophomore Warren Burrell. Senior Theo Jackson manned the nickle position in Shamburger’s absence. Jackson finished with a team-high 10 tackles and one tackle for loss.
On the offensive side of the ball, redshirt sophomore J.T. Shrout didn’t travel with the team for the first time this season. Pruitt didn’t get a specific answer, but alluded to Tennessee not having enough room on the 70-man travel roster. The Vols brought three scholarship quarterbacks — Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer, and Harrison Bailey.
“We had a couple guys that, we didn’t know whether or not we were going to be able to bring them,” Pruitt said. “Ty Chandler being one, Brent Cimaglia has been kind of nursing a sore leg there. Just trying to figure out the 70 and getting the right numbers. That was one of the reasons we did that (didn’t bring Shrout).”
Chandler made the trip but only carried the football once. It appeared that he was shaken up on his one carry and he didn’t come back in the game after his first quarter departure.
“Ty, he hurt his ankle obviously in the last game and just hasn’t gotten over it,” Pruitt said.
True freshman Jabari Small filled in for Chandler as Tennessee’s No. 2 running back behind Eric Gray. Small rushed for 18 yards on eight carries and caught two passes for 14 yards.
The Vols return home next Saturday to take on No. 7 Texas A&M. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Aggies are coming off of a dominating 48-3 win over South Carolina on the road.