Tag Archives: offensive line

Tennessee spring football 2014: The offensive line

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With spring practice starting this week, we’re revisiting some of our projections from the post-season. Today: the offensive line. 

Antonio “Tiny” Richardson opted to leave early for the NFL (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee –Perhaps no other position will have a bigger impact on the Vols’ success or failure in 2014 than the offensive line.

In 2013, the Vols not only had five experienced starters, but they had five players who had worked together as a unit for at least two years.

The Vols are losing all five starters, who accounted for roughly 92 percent of all snaps taken this year. The potential replacements are green.

The offense might not have been as prolific as hoped, but the line helped power a running game that kept UT afloat when other options failed. At least three of the linemen will be in the NFL next year.

The line was also remarkably durable. Ja’Wuan James set records for longevity. None of this teammates missed any significant time this year.

As you can see from the chart below, the Vols are replacing a lot of starts and a lot of combined experience.

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Tennessee football position preview: Offensive line starting anew, but Marcus Jackson could help ease transition

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The first in a series of position-by-position reviews of the Tennessee football team with an eye toward the start of spring practice in three months.

Antonio “Tiny” Richardson opted to leave early for the NFL (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s appropriate to begin our series of offseason previews with the offensive line. Perhaps no other position will have a bigger impact on the Vols’ success or failure in 2014.

In 2013, the Vols not only had five experienced starters, but they had five players who had worked together as a unit for at least two years.

The Vols are losing all five starters, who accounted for roughly 92 percent of all snaps taken this year. The potential replacements are green.

The offense might not have been as prolific as hoped, but the line helped power a running game that kept UT afloat when other options failed. At least three of the linemen will be in the NFL next year.

The line was also remarkably durable. Ja’Wuan James set records for longevity. None of this teammates missed any significant time this year.

As you can see from the chart below, the Vols are replacing a lot of starts and a lot of combined experience.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AgBQnqCTaaxzdGtZaEJDLWFBclVuY1ctblQ2ZmQ2WEE&single=true&gid=2&range=a1%3Al7&output=html&widget=true” width=”100%” height=”330″]

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Butch Jones: Vols’ depth problems on offensive line won’t be solved in just 1 class

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee has answered so many of its needs in the still-ongoing 2014 recruiting cycle, that the one need that remains unanswered still stands out.

That would be the offensive line, where a couple of years of lean recruiting has led to some gaps at a position at which Butch Jones has said he’d like to have 15 players.

That might not happen until 2015.

“We are down an entire recruiting class in the offensive line position, numbers wise,” Jones said Thursday. “The thing that we have to guard against in this recruiting class is we cannot fix all of our deficiencies in a recruiting class. It takes time. You can only bring in so many players.”

A few new developments have occurred since the last time we reviewed the Class of 2014. The Vols signed three junior college players on Wednesday, but missed out on DaVonte Lambert, who signed with Auburn.

That drops the Vols’ number of overall verbal commitments and signees to 33. That’s within range of 30, the number of scholarships many believe UT has available for this class. (You can read all about the numbers saga here).

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As 34th commitment, Charles Mosley continues to help bulk up Vols’ line depth

Charles Mosley (photo from 247Sports)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — An ice storm delayed Charles Mosley‘s official commitment last week, but he made it official on Monday.

Mosley is the 34th member of Tennessee’s 2014 class and the first from West Tennessee.

He also offers some flexibility at two key positions. The Vols are recruiting Mosley as a defensive tackle, but there’s some thought that he could end up on the offensive line — and perhaps rather quickly.

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Officially, the Vols have four offensive linemen and eight defensive linemen. The loss of Antonio “Tiny” Richardson to the NFL draft added another challenge to the rebuilding of the offensive line. There’s no way the Vols are going to reach their goal of 15 offensive linemen in this recruiting cycle. There’s just too much work to do.

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But the Vols can feel good about their defensive line haul in this class. Some of those ends will probably end up at tackle before their careers are over. They also have some ends on the current roster who could shift inside at least some of the time in 2014.

Butch Jones asked about offensive line’s ‘inconsistent play’: ‘I totally disagree’

Butch Jones meets with media this week (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones forcefully defended his veteran offensive line during an appearance on Nashville radio Friday morning.

Jones’ frequent radio appearances are usually mild, upbeat and free of conflict.

But a question about the Vols’ offensive line prompted an assertive response on 104.5 The Zone this morning.

The host (I believe Mark Howard) asked: “What about the offensive line? Obviously a lot of talent there, but it hasn’t always come together. How do you account for that unit’s inconsistent play this season?”

“Well, I totally disagree with that comment,” Jones replied. “I think if you look at everything, if we stay on schedule, it will be the best rushing season we’ve had at Tennessee since 2004.”

Sure enough, check out the stats. If the Vols have even modest production on the ground in their final two games, this will be the best rushing team in nine years.

All that production has come with a very young supporting cast and very few “splash” plays.

“During this bye week, I’ve gone back and watched their body of work during the course of the season and we’ve been able to run the ball efficiently,” Jones said. “But the problem is we’re not getting 40-, 50-yard chunk plays.”

The interview was very cordial and neither Jones nor the hosts were testy. But Jones clearly wanted to make a point.

“We’re going to need (the offensive line) down the stretch,” Jones concluded. “Do they need to play better? Absolutely. Everybody needs to play better. And we need to coach better the last two games.”

Tennessee football depth chart: A position-by-position glance at the Vols’ depth

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(to view the document above in its own window, click here)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s new depth chart released on Monday didn’t reveal any major surprises, but it did show the Vols’ depth issues with more vivid clarity.

The receiver spot, for example, may lack SEC talent or experience. But it doesn’t lack in numbers. The defensive tackle position has SEC-level talent, but worrisome depth. The cornerback spot? Well, some fear it has all the above.

The chart above is my best interpretation of Tennessee’s complete depth chart, listing every player on the roster. (Some late-arriving walk-ons are not yet listed, as they have not been officially added to the roster. That could happen as soon as today).

A few things I found interesting…

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