As we inch closer to football season, we’ve started our full dig into the 2017 roster. Our own Evan Winter told us who the most important Vols on defense and on offense are, now I’ll point to three key areas of weakness that could hurt Tennessee this season.
Everyone knows about Jauan Jennings by now. He’s the alpha of the receiver room and will be the main guy in this Tennessee passing attack — but what do the Vols have behind him? It’s an unknown, really. The only proven guy there is Josh Smith, but he’s not exactly a guy that is going to keep defensive coordinators up at night. Tyler Byrd is next on the list, but we’ve yet to see him in a full time role.
You certainly hope Marquez Calloway and Byrd can step up into a number two and three role right off the bat in 2017, but it’s still an unknown. Jeff George offers you 6-6 size, but we really haven’t seen him take too many steps forward since he entered the program. Latrell Williams has a chance to bring some much needed speed to the offense — we’ll see if he can add something this year after taking a redshirt season in 2016.
Maybe one of those unknowns can emerge for the Vols early on — they’re going to need it to take some pressure off of John Kelly and the offensive line.
Running Back Depth
To be blunt, it’s pretty scary to think about what the Vols would have to roll with if something happened to John Kelly. True freshman Ty Chandler is in line for backup duties, but after that there just isn’t a lot there. Carlin Fils-Aime is a former four star prospect, but hasn’t done much in his limited opportunities to this point. I really don’t want to see what this offense looks like if the injuries pile up at running back.
Justin Martin and Emmanuel Moseley are the elder statesmen here, but each took their lumps last season. The homestretch of the 2016 season was brutal — largely in part to cornerback play. Rashaan Gaulden did some nice things out of the slot last year and figures to be back in that role this season.
One guy that could make a massive year one difference in Louisville transfer Shaq Wiggins. This was a huge get for the Vols at an area of need. I’d guess Wiggins is a starter sooner rather than later.
Tennessee has to find a way to replace Cam Sutton and Malik Foreman though. We saw what the secondary looked like last year without Sutton and it wasn’t pretty. I think we know what the Vols have at corner — at least with the upperclassmen. It cannot be understated how much Wiggins could help this secondary. Maybe his addition helps ease the blow of losing Sutton and Barnett, but those are some big shoes to fill.