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Pro Football Focus ranks Tennessee’s offensive line 13th in the SEC

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Sounds about right.

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NCAA Football: Tennessee at West Virginia Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Tennessee has struggled up front so far this season. From the first snap of the season the offensive line has been one of the bigger disappointments on the roster. There weren’t many people that thought this would be a strength for the Vols in 2018, but there were some positive reports coming out of training camp.

That positive energy was quickly derailed with the injury to Brandon Kennedy and a subpar day overall against West Virginia.

Through four games of the 2018 season, the Vols’ offensive line ranks 13th out of 14 team in the SEC, according to Pro Football Focus. The stats are pretty eye-popping.

The Volunteers have dropped back to pass just 99 times in 2018, the lowest mark in the conference, and yet they have allowed 25 total pressures, the sixth-most in the SEC. That has seen them produce a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 85.4, which ranks second to last in the conference.

Only Texas A&M ranks worse than Tennessee. PFF goes on to single out Drew Richmond and Jerome Carvin as standout performers to this point, which was a surprise — especially in Richmond’s case.

Among their starters, only tackle Drew Richmond and guard Jerome Calvin have been good enough so far this season, allowing three and two total pressures, respectively. While they have combined to allow five pressures between them, the rest of the line have each allowed at least five on their own.

PFF’s piece really only touches on the deficiencies in pass protection. Tennessee has struggled to run the ball this season, even at times against ETSU. As our own Austin Burlage points out, they’ve struggled to execute simple zone blocking concepts from the get-go.

There’s a reason Jeremy Pruitt has gone so hard after offensive line help with the 2019 class so far. He currently has four commitments in that positional group alone, including five-star offensive tackle Wanya Morris. That help can’t get to Knoxville quick enough.