After winning two games to open the season and then dropping three straight, a bye week was definitely welcomed by the Tennessee Volunteers. In a season that doesn’t feature any cupcake games and a ten-game conference slate, this is the only break that you’re going to get.
That allows some time for healing, resetting and a few lineup shuffles. It also allows time to try things that have been on your mind. That’s exactly what this coaching staff did last week, trying a few players out at new positions.
“We’ve moved some pieces,” Jeremy Pruitt said on Monday. “Bryson Eason is at outside linebacker. We took (Kurott) Garland and moved him to inside linebacker to create a little more depth at that position. Morven Joseph has worked at inside and outside linebacker.”
Defensive back Kenney Solomon also flipped over to the offensive side, now playing at receiver.
Both Eason and Joseph fall into Pruitt’s prototypical 4-for-4 linebacker mold, so it’s not all that surprising to see each guy cross-train inside and out. Garland is an interesting one, considering that he signed with Tennessee as a 6-3, 295 pound defensive tackle. He kicked out to outside linebacker, and has now moved inside to create more depth. That’s quite the ride already for the class of 2018 prospect.
“Normally, these things happen if you have them during the summer,” Pruitt said. “During June and July, you can see these guys move around a little bit and get a clearer picture of what position they should play. Then, you get probably 14 really hard days of camp to see it. Some of these guys didn’t get to do it, so after going through the first five weeks of practice here, it’s an opportunity for us to put them into positions so that we can see them for their future.”
Pruitt and his staff aren’t shy about shaking things up. Several guys on the roster have bounced around to multiple positions on both sides of the ball — some stick, some don’t.
The most notable moves here are Eason and Joseph, who heavily figure into Tennessee’s future plans within the front seven. In a year where eligibility doesn’t count, you might as well get these growing pains out of the way early on. Let’s see if they did enough this week to find the field on Saturday against Arkansas.