If there was one area that Tennessee had some sort of advantage against West Virginia, it was going to be the offensive line against the Mountaineers’ defensive line. Or so we thought.
West Virginia came out and hit Tennessee in the mouth, creating negative plays and taking advantage of an offensive line unit that looked like it was still trying to find its way. The Vols ended up establishing a consistent push in the second half, but the game was out of reach by then.
“There’s some runs that we hit in there and there were some runs that we lost three or four yards on,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “You’re not going to be very good in this league, or any league, if you can’t get back to the line of scrimmage. I’d probably say they were inconsistent.”
The Mountaineers blew up the very first offensive play from scrimmage for Tennessee, capitalizing on what looked like a misstep from center Brandon Kennedy. It took a few series, but eventually the unit showed some signs of life.
According to Pruitt, that shouldn’t be all that surprising.
“Let me tell you about our o-line, okay? I’m not making excuses, I’m just going to tell you the facts. Trey Smith has practiced for eight days. Jahmir Johnson was not here in the spring. Brandon Kennedy wasn’t here in the spring. Chance Hall just started this fall camp. Because we didn’t know if these guys were going to be back, we had to prepare like they weren’t going to be back. That means we had to play guys at a bunch of different spots. When you do that, sometimes you’re not hardly a unit yet.”
Tennessee now gets ETSU and UTEP as tune-up events before the annual meeting with the Florida Gators. That’s a good chance to get in the film room, fix the slow start and build some chemistry up front.
“I like our guys on the offensive line,” Pruitt said. “I believe in them. I think they’re hard-nosed, I think they fight. But we’ve got to execute a little better.”