The Tennessee offensive line has struggled to find their way so far this season, failing to get a consistent push up front and proving to be pretty leaky in pass protection through five games.
Their job got a little tougher on Saturday as Riley Locklear was forced to leave the Georgia contest with a knee injury. The sophomore interior lineman suffered a partially torn meniscus during the first half. Locklear underwent surgery earlier this week and is expect to miss time over the next two weeks, according to Jeremy Pruitt.
“It’s actually good news for Riley,” Pruitt said on the Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “When he left the game, we were concerned that he possibly could have an ACL, but he’s got a small meniscus tear and had surgery. He’ll probably be out at least 10 to 15 days and then he’ll be back ready to go.”
The temporary loss of Locklear is going to strain Tennessee’s depth on the interior, particularly at center. Brandon Kennedy was lost for the season after week one and Ryan Johnson has been his fill-in. Locklear was the third man in that equation, meaning Will Friend will have to find another option for depth. That option is likely freshman Jerome Carvin, who has worked at all five positions since arriving in Knoxville.
Tennessee has a bye week to figure out that depth issue before heading to Auburn to play the Tigers next Saturday.