While there were many questions about several position groups for the Volunteers going into this season, one group was expected to shine: the offensive line. Anchored by senior LG Trey Smith, there was a lot of hype about the unit as a whole going into the season opener against South Carolina this past Saturday. Safe to say, the boys in the trenches got the job done. Vols QB Jarrett Guarantano probably didn’t know how to feel Saturday night. You may ask why and I’ve got your answer; because he stayed upright most of the night.
The O-Line kept the pressure at bay and allowed Guarantano to go through his progressions and make some good throws down the field. It’s safe to say that in year’s past that hasn’t always been the case. The last several seasons JG has been praised for his ability to remain in games even though he would take a beating night in and night out. Could this offensive line be a reason why JG ultimately finds success this season? Does their rapid improvement lead the Vols to where they want to be as a program? Only time will tell, but I believe it’s safe to say that they’re headed on the right track.
Two short seasons ago, this unit was viewed as one of the worst not only in the SEC, but in the entire country. Nowadays, several analysts view the Vols O-Line as definitely a top-5 position group. This was especially obvious in the second half of the contest Saturday when the Volunteers pounded the rock in the run game. They were able to run for 130+ yards in just the second half alone. Also, JG was only sacked twice the entire game. The development of this group over the next several years will be fun to watch because everyone knows to win in the SEC, you have to win the line of scrimmage – period. Tennessee seems to be well on their way to achieving that behind this offensive line.
*Update: Cade Mays has been freed after the original writing of this article – Let’s Ride*