Tennessee football: Tight end a big part of the Vols offense

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Butch Jones arrived at Tennessee last December, he started recruiting tight ends almost immediately. In the Class of 2014, he hasn’t stopped.

Tennessee was very plain on offense in the opener against Austin Peay, almost never venturing from their basic set. Even so, it’s clear that the tight end will be a big part of the Vols’ offensive game plan in 2013.

The Vols had 73 snaps on Saturday, and there was little variation:

3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB: 69 (48 run, 20 pass, 1 sack)

4 WR, 1 RB: 1 (1 pass)

2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB: 1 (1 run)

3 WR, 2 RB: 2 (2 run)

I expect we’ll see a lot more diversity against Western Kentucky, but these numbers make clear that we’ll see a lot of Brendan Downs, who played the overwhelming majority of the snaps with the first team.

Here’s the unofficial snap count for each of the tight ends.

Brendan Downs: 34 first half/0 second half

Joseph Ayres: 6/3

Woody Quinn: 3/0

A.J. Branisel: 0/28

I thought Downs had a very good game (although we’ll get to talk to assistant coaches this afternoon to get their opinion). I thought Branisel also played very tough for a true freshman.

A note on the numbers: UT does not provide snap-by-snap participation, so these are not official numbers. The formation breakdown above lists personnel. So if a tight end lined up as a receiver, I still counted him as a tight end. Finally, the run/pass breakdown is the outcome of the play, not the design. So if a quarterback pulls down the ball and runs, it counts as a run, not a pass. A complete statistical package, GVX by the Numbers, is available to subscribers.