Injuries are a part of the game, and Tennessee was hit with a pretty big one in the first half against Bowling Green. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be serious.
Cooper Mays, the younger brother of Cade and starting center this season for Tennessee, went down early with what appeared to be a lower leg injury. He was forced to leave the game, which meant sliding over Jerome Carvin to center and inserting Ollie Lane at guard.
The injury did seem to stall the offense a bit in the second quarter, as the Volunteers struggled to move the ball after back to back touchdown drives to open the game.
“I mean, inside I thought they did a good job,” Heupel said after the game. “Communication, with Cooper going out and Jerome (Carvin) getting everybody in sync and on the same page, in our run game we were pretty much hatting them up the way we wanted to. The right way. That part of it was really good to see from Jerome.”
We mentioned concerns with the offensive line depth earlier in the week, and it was immediately put to the test on Thursday night. Now we wait to see if Tennessee will get Cooper back for Pittsburgh — a key game on the schedule if the Vols want to get to six wins. There does seem to be a positive outlook, however.
“At this point, we expect to have him back, the following week,” Heupel said of Mays’ availability.
A couple of players didn’t appear on the field on Thursday night. Emerging wide receiver Jimmy Calloway was one of them, and the reasoning was not specified. The staff expects to have him ready to go soon.
“Jimmy Calloway, we expect to have him back real soon,” Heupel said.
Heupel also addressed the Byron Young situation — an eligibility issue that kept him from playing on Thursday night. Young apparently played two games at a prep school in 2017, but the school folded. While it won’t cost him a season of eligibility, it may end up costing him a couple of games this season.
“Do expect him back,” Heupel said of Young. “We’re working through NCAA eligibility process with a previous school that he attended after high school. So we’re working through that process.”
Tennessee and Pittsburgh will kickoff on Saturday, September 11th at noon ET.