Dan Fleser: Vol Linebackers Coaching Each Other Up As Georgia Matchup Approaches

Thursday, October 8, 2020 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – Jeremy Banks and Quavaris Crouch have become linebackers of habit. Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt couldn’t help but notice their routine because they’ve been so diligent in following it.

 

“There’s probably not a day that hadn’t went by over the last three months that I don’t see them sitting in a room together with Henry (To’o To’o) and the other linebackers and them just in there coaching each other up,” Pruitt said.

“When you put as much time and effort into it as they have, they’re going to continue to get better.”

 

The maturation process of UT’s young linebackers reflects the state of the program. Sixteen players have debuted during the first two games of the season and 13 of them are true freshmen. Yet the Vols have managed to add two victories to a win streak that’s reached eight in spanning two seasons. The offense has committed zero turnovers, the only conference team to be spotless in that regard.

 

Tennessee’s ongoing makeover will face its sternest test against No. 3 Georgia (2-0) on Saturday in Athens, Ga., (TV: CBS, 3:30 p.m.). The Vols’ time and effort are going toward rebuilding their program in the Bulldogs’ image. Pruitt assessed Georgia’s speed, size, athleticism and skill and concluded “they don’t have a weakness.”

 

In measuring its progress against such a program, the Vols’ challenge will be establishing enough strengths to give themselves a chance. Their best chance begins with their size and skill on the offensive line.

 

The Vols got bigger last week when 6-foot-6, 320-pound Cade Mays was cleared to play by the SEC after transferring from Georgia during the offseason. Against Missouri, he manned multiple positions on UT’s line.

 

Mays’ younger brother, Cooper, and fellow lineman Riley Locklear have been deployed in the first two games in a jumbo package of linemen. The intent is to make the Vols even more imposing and boost their running game.

 

Through two games, Tennessee is averaging 182.5 yards rushing per game. Ty Chandler leads the SEC in total rushing yards (176).

 

UT will be running into a Georgia defense, though, that leads the conference and ranks third nationally in allowing just 58 yards per game.

 

UT center Brandon Kennedy said the O-line has focused this week on the last two seconds of each play and trying to put a little more “strain” into each block in order to gain more yards with each running play.

 

“Our biggest thing moving forward is we’ve got to continue to be physical and execute at a high level,” he said.  

 

The linebackers can relate. To’o To’o said that they are bracing for Georgia’s running game, which is averaging 161.5 yards.

 

“They’re trying to run that rock down your throat,” he said.

 

 Over in their room, the linebackers are coaching up each other’s fortitude in much the same fashion as the linemen.  

 

“We have to do our part,” To’o To’o said. “We have to come out mentally sound, physically sound and give it our all.”

 

-Pruitt said Wednesday that defensive back Shawn Shamburger, who missed the first two games, will play Saturday.     

 

* * *

 

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.

 


SEC FOOTBALL: Standings/Results/Schedule

Mocs Close Out Fall Play On Final Day Of Southern Miss Invite

Dan Fleser: Reality Of Vols' Dire Situation Sinking In


Southeastern Conference Football Standings/Results/Schedule 2020 SEC Standings – East Won-Lost (4) Georgia 3-1 (10) Florida ... (click for more)

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s tennis team closed out the 2020 fall season on the final day of competition at the Southern Miss Invite today. The Mocs competed in three doubles ... (click for more)

During Saturday’s Tennessee-Alabama football game, the CBS telecast came out of a commercial break with an overhead view looking down into a mostly empty Neyland Stadium. The sparse turnout ... (click for more)



Sports

SEC FOOTBALL: Standings/Results/Schedule

Southeastern Conference Football Standings/Results/Schedule 2020 SEC Standings – East Won-Lost (4) Georgia 3-1 (10) Florida 2-1 Missouri 2-2 South Carolina 2-3 Kentucky 2-3 Tennessee 2-3 Vanderbilt ... (click for more)

Mocs Close Out Fall Play On Final Day Of Southern Miss Invite

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s tennis team closed out the 2020 fall season on the final day of competition at the Southern Miss Invite today. The Mocs competed in three doubles and seven singles matches against MTSU. UTC took two of the three doubles, led by senior Turner Voges and sophomore Simon Labbe’s 6-4 win over Andreas Kramer and Pavel Motl. Sophomore ... (click for more)

Breaking News

13-Year-Old Boy Injured Monday Afternoon In Drive-By Shooting On Central Avenue

A 13-year-old boy was shot Monday around 4:48 p.m. on Central Avenue. Police located the victim at the 5200 block on Slayton Avenue and determined he had run from the actual crime scene in the 5300 block of Central Avenue. The victim was taken to a local hospital by Hamilton County EMS for treatment of a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Officers secured the ... (click for more)

Tennessee, Georgia Senators Vote To Confirm Amy Barrett To Supreme Court; She Is Approved 52-48

Tennessee and Georgia senators were among those voting to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. Judge Barrett was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 48. She previously served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Barrett is a mother of seven and is now the youngest member currently serving on the Supreme Court. Senator Lamar ... (click for more)

Opinion

We Must Love

I feel it too. It is easy to hate. Maybe we could try harder to love. Hate seeps into our bones, rules our integrity, and convinces us to forsake those we love. Hate is toxic. It spreads to our neighbors; people we once trusted. It spreads to our coworkers and friends; people who once trusted us. We lose sight of what truly matters. That is what we have in common now. Is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Trump & The J-Word

There have been a bunch of times in my half-century as a writer when people – especially other writers – have called me out for being different. That in itself isn’t a bad thing (I rather like it), but Alf Van Hoose, the legendary sports editor, told me once in a crowd, “You are a rarity … you’ll put the word ‘Jesus’ in a paragraph, and I appreciate that.” But it’s true - the scariest ... (click for more)