With the exit of running back John Kelly to the NFL, all eyes immediately turned to Ty Chandler in the Tennessee backfield. The former four-star back flashed in a big way against Kentucky last season, handling 22 carries for 120 yards and two scores.
Moving Chandler into that lead back role seemed like the easiest decision of Tennessee’s offseason. Or so we thought.
I supposed we should take this with a grain of salt, being that it’s just the spring game, but Tim Jordan and Ty Chandler split the workload during the Orange and White Game. Chandler took 11 carries, but Jordan ended up being the more productive back with just 9 carries.
Each back went for over 50 yards on the day.
One thing to keep in mind here — Tennessee targeted bigger backs on the recruiting trail, landing one in 6-2, 215 pound Jeremy Banks. They also added 6-1, 218 pound Michigan State transfer Madre London. Not that 5-11, 195 pound Ty Chandler is too small, it just seems like Tennessee wants more size.
A guy similar to Chandler in size is Tim Jordan, who was the surprise of the day on Saturday. Jordan ripped off a couple of nice looking runs, including a 27 yarder. The rising sophomore paced the ground game with 57 yards on 9 carries, scoring two touchdowns on the day.
Jordan played sparingly last season behind Kelly and Chandler, but if the Orange and White Game was any indication, he’s seems to be on equal footing with Chandler as of right now. On Saturday, he looked a little more physical than Chandler.
It remains to be seen how London and Banks factor into this equation, but I’d put my money on Tennessee taking more of a platoon approach this fall. They appear to have at least three known commodities in Chandler, Jordan and London who can really tote the ball.
I’m fascinated to see how this one plays out. Will size win out?