If the 2018 Tennessee Volunteers are going to anything productive on the football field, you get the feeling that a strong run game will be a must. Both offensive coordinator Tyson Helton and Jeremy Pruitt have stressed the importance of being able to run the football, even when the opposite side knows what is coming.
The main ingredient to a successful rushing attack is a powerful, cohesive offensive line. That part of the equation may just be coming together, at least in a practice setting.
“To start the scrimmage, I thought the offensive line kind of dominated,” Pruitt said referencing his team’s Saturday scrimmage. “The ones, the twos and the threes—I thought they did a good job. You could see the line of scrimmage changing, which that don’t say much about the defensive front. I just know standing out on the field, I saw the line of scrimmage move. So that’s good and bad.”
That offensive line group is set to get a lot better this week with freshman All-American Trey Smith returning to contact drills. Even without Smith though, it’s encouraging to hear a report like this come from the head coach with just 12 days remaining before the first game.
Of course, it wasn’t a completely rosy report from Pruitt on Saturday. He liked what he saw early from the group, but said they didn’t finish like he wants.
“As practice went, you know whether it’s the plays, whether it’s how hot it was or how many snaps guys have taken, you saw guys that wasn’t performing at the end of the practice like they were at the beginning. That’s not exactly what we’re looking for. We’d like to finish better than we start.”
As Pruitt mentioned, a good day for the offensive line in an scrimmage means a bad day for his defensive front, which remains a huge question entering the season. The offense got the better of the defense during the Orange and White Game back in April. That doesn’t seem to have changed much four months later.
For me, confidence remains much higher on the offensive side of the football. Tennessee has talent that frankly was underused last season due to the offense and all-around horrendous quarterback play. Hearing that the offensive line had another good day — even without Smith — only reinforces that thought.