Tennessee concluded its first full week of preseason camp on Saturday, which included the Vols’ first scrimmage and first significant injury of the pending season. There has been no shortage of news lately.
With three weeks remaining until Tennessee opens its season against Virginia in Nashville, here are five things you need to know about how the Vols are progressing.
Ollie Ollie, there is an open position
Senior center Ollie Lane is the heir apparent to fill in for center Cooper Mays, who underwent a medical procedure and is expected to be out of action for at least two weeks. Lane is strong and smart but it remains to be seen if he can be as “nasty” as Mays, according to a source within the Vols’ program.
With Mays out for now, Lane has an opportunity to shine. For depth and/or competition, Dayne Davis has been moved to center. Parker Ball, Vysen Lang and Addison Nichols could also play center, but they wouldn’t be the optimal option.
Upgraded D Up Front
The Vols’ defensive front dominated its offensive counterparts in the first scrimmage of preseason camp on Thursday. There are a couple of reasons why. First, Mays wasn’t available. Second, defenses almost always have an edge in preseason camp when teeing off against opposing offenses. However, there’s another reason. Tennessee’s defensive front is considering better.
Per one source within the Vols’ program, there is no question that Tennessee is deeper and, overall, more talented than last year’s defensive front. That could mean less blitzing will be necessary this fall, which should improve the Vols’ pass coverage on the second level.
It’s obvious that the Vols are still stronger at receiver than tight end. Senior starter Jacob Warren is a known commodity, but without a bona fide running mate at tight end to split snaps with, the Vols could play more four wide-receiver sets and have done so in the early stages of fall camp.
Warren won’t mind as he’ll still get plenty of snaps at tight end, but could also be used as a “receiver” in certain packages. It will be hard to keep receivers like Bru McCoy, Ramel Keyton, Dont’e Thornton and Squirrel White off the field at the same time this season.
Arion Carter is good. Really good.
Just a freshman, Carter is already considered one of the Vols’ top three linebackers, along with senior transfer Keenan Pili and returning senior starter Aaron Beasley. Carter, who has been nicknamed “A.C.”, will likely play a very significant role for the Vols this season.
Ethan Davis will contribute this year
For all those, including me, that thought Davis was going to be a project at tight end this year, we might want to re-think that. Transfer McCallan Castles has the inside track to complement Warren, but Davis is more mature and too talented to keep off of the field.