Will Shelton - Coleman Thomas
I go first and it doesn't seem fair to me to take the whole offensive line and leave the rest of the guys hanging. Coleman Thomas isn't the lone offender, by far. But he is one of Tennessee's youngest offensive linemen, and thus hopefully one of the ones with the most still to gain. We watched James Stone snap the ball on the ground against Florida as a freshman, and his partners in crime who are now starting NFL linemen were part of a group that gave up 40+ sacks in 2010. What we're seeing right now isn't so much worse than that in my opinion. As was the case four years ago, these guys just need to get better as soon as possible. No better place to start than a feel-good performance against an FCS foe.
Chris Pendley - Marlin Lane
Anytime, dude. For a two-headed rushing attack, Lane has ...really not been up to much. His season high is 4.2 yards per carry, and in a game I'm assuming Tennessee will use to get Jalen Hurd at least a little bit healthy, Lane needs to do well enough to not have Hurd get 15+ carries. A little confidence wouldn't hurt, either, even if he is running behind an offensive line totally bereft of confidence.
Kid Bourbon - Derrell Scott
We've seen the NFL get away from the "featured back" business model, and move more towards a RB-by-committee approach, and we're seeing more of that in the SEC as well (Les Miles was ahead of his time). This is for good reason: the game out there be getting physical like Olivia Newt*. Running backs get injured arguably more often than I change socks (or at least gym shorts). You need to have a serviceable second option to either lighten the load on your primary guy or spell him when he gets a little banged up.
Jalen Hurd is clearly our primary guy at this point -- and shiniest object -- but he appears to be a bit banged up, and we need another running back to step up and stride through the imaginary holes created by our OL. And maybe Marlin Lane is banged up as well. Or maybe he just isn't all that great. But 3.3 yards a carry isn't the kind of production you want, and especially from a senior. So let's give the new fella Scott some carries. He might just shine like a shiny object.
Joel Hollingsworth - Offensive Line
Will set the stage for each of us to pick a different offensive lineman and leave it at that. But because neither Chris nor KidB got the hint, I'm just going to go with whatever o-linemen are left after y'all are done.
The o-line affects everything on offense. Improve that, and it makes everything easier. The QB has more time to throw. Receivers have more time to get open and/or further downfield. Running backs have more lanes and room to do those things that they do. Sacks are reduced, TFLs are reduced, rush yards are increased, big plays are more common. The world is a better place with offensive linemen doing offensive linemen things well. So here's to hoping they use this game to find their groove.
Incipient_Senescence - Kyler Kerbyson
People keep talking about how we need an extra tight end or running back on Coleman Thomas' side, because Thomas is a true freshman and has trouble protecting Justin Worley. But every game I watch seems to feature plenty of pass-rushers who attack Worley's blind side relatively unimpeded. Kerbyson is just not doing a great job in pass protection. Either he's been beaten physically, or he thinks he has help from the running back when the running back is blocking someone else. Whatever the problem, the redshirt junior needs to fix it and steady the left side if the Vols are going to be able to help the true freshman on the other side.