The college football season is underway, and unfortunately the injury bug has arrived for Tennessee. Veteran linebacker Keenan Pili suffered an upper body injury in the Volunteers’ win against Virginia on Saturday, Josh Heupel confirmed on Wednesday on the SEC teleconference.
Pili made his Tennessee debut on Saturday afternoon after transferring in from BYU. Heupel says he’ll be out at least a couple of weeks.
“We weren’t sure early in the week, the severity of the injury,” Heupel said on Wednesday. “He will not be available this week. He’ll miss a couple of weeks here.”
Tennessee is set to host Austin Peay on Saturday evening, then they’ll head down to Gainesville to take on Florida in week three. Obviously, losing Pili is a big blow for the trip down to The Swamp.
“Don’t believe that it’s season-ending at this point,” Heupel continued. “We’ll see how he continues to heal up here in the coming days and weeks.”
Pili started alongside of veteran linebacker Aaron Beasley on Saturday. He exited the game in the third quarter after making four total tackles. Pili was a part of a vicious Tennessee front seven that dominated the game, making things nearly impossible for Virginia offensively.
“They graded it out really well,” Heupel said of his starting linebackers following the game against Virginia. “Keenan got a game ball. Beasley played really well.”
Stepping in for Pili will likely be sophomore Elijah Herring, or maybe even true freshman Arion Carter. Both will have expanded roles now regardless of who gets the start. Herring led the team with five tackles on Saturday against Virginia.