Position Preview: Tennessee's Stable of Backs
Tennessee is set to kickoff Jeremy Pruitt’s inaugural season in one week at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte against a prolific West Virginia team. West Virginia has been highly touted this off-season and is poised to have one of the most versatile and fast paced offenses in the country this upcoming season, with their quarterback Will Grier even picking up some early Heisman hype.
So obviously, the Volunteer Defense is going to have their hands full attempting to slow down this fast-paced offense. One advantage that Tennessee will hope to be able to capitalize upon is their ability to pound the ball offensively and control the tempo by keeping West Virginia’s offense on the sideline.
Offensively, Tennessee will use a running back by committee attack to establish this tactic against the Mountaineers. There is not a John Kelly or Alvin Kamara in the backfield this season for the Vols but that does not mean that they cannot find consistent production on the ground.
Although, Tennessee does not have a true star in the back field at this point and time, does not mean that it is short of talent. The Volunteers have several explosive ball carriers in their employ that all have some serious potential and all who will be looking to make their mark early on in this new offense.
We will start this preview with the most renown name in the back-field for Tennessee, Sophomore, Ty Chandler. Chandler was one of the top running backs in the country coming out of high school and showed glimpses of that talent last season with the minimal touches he received behind John Kelly.
Chandler had 305 rushing yards on 71 attempts averaging just over four yards per carry and adding two touchdowns on the ground. Chandler’s best game came against Kentucky where he broke the century mark at 120 yards on 22 carries and both of his touchdowns.
Chandler will look to stamp his name in this new offensive system quickly and live up to the billing that he received coming out of high school, as he should see an increase in touches his sophomore season.
The next big name in the backfield is Michigan State graduate transfer Madre London. London comes from a Big Ten, run heavy offense. He played in 26 games for the Spartans in three years, with his freshmen year being the most productive before getting buried on the depth chart after his freshmen season.
London will give the Volunteers a seasoned back, who has carried the ball in high pressure situations. London, will make most of his day carrying the ball In between the tackles and making opposing defenders pay but do not discredit his ability once he gets to the second level.
A name that Volunteer fans may get familiar with very quickly is Tim Jordan. Jordan is a bowling ball type back, that seems to be acclimating to the new offensive system very well. Jordan has flown under the radar most of his time in Knoxville but he seems poised to make some noise in the Volunteers backfield, after a very solid off-season showing for the new staff.
The last Running back, we will touch on is the future of the Tennessee backfield, Memphis native, Jeremy Banks.
Pruitt and staff were able to quickly come in and establish, Banks, as a priority and secure his commitment on signing day.
It is easy to see why Banks became a priority for the new coaching staff as he is a big bodied back who can pound it in between the tackles, but is also able to show off his agility time and time again once he reaches the second level.
Banks excelled in high school by popping long runs right through the heart of the defense. Over the coming years, Tennessee fans can look forward to him becoming a consistent back, that churns out SEC caliber production, game in and game out.
I f the Volunteers, plan to compete successfully this season, they will depend upon this stable of backs to become a cohesive unit and quickly churn out SEC caliber production. If they can do so, then Tennessee will be able to control the tempo and give their defense, quality periods of rest throughout the game likely enabling them to remain in contention deep into ball games.