KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Sophomore offensive lineman Chance Hall is expected to make his season debut against Florida on Saturday.
The right tackle’s return couldn’t come at a better time.
Hall has been sidelined since late August with a knee injury, but after a pair of practices this week, both Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord confirmed Hall is an option for a struggling unit.
“We put him in yesterday when we were in pads and he did very well,” DeBord said.
“We didn’t know where he would be. … He had a really good practice yesterday. We will continue to evaluate him today.”
Here's Tennessee right tackle Chance Hall at today's practice. Hall had knee surgery on Aug. 18. pic.twitter.com/jtwBvL6yH6
— Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward) September 20, 2016
Hall started seven games in 2015 and was a projected first-teamer during training camp before going down with a torn meniscus. He needed arthroscopic surgery in mid-August, but he’s worked hard to ready himself and give Tennessee some added depth up front.
“You have to credit Chance and credit out training staff,” DeBord said.
“For putting him in position to be able to come out there and play like that. Anyone that knows Chance Hall, No. 1 he’s a great young man, and he is all into football. He loves football. He studies it all the time.
“It’s not like he ever left. He was in meetings, watching practice film. … He has prepared himself.”
Tennessee’s offensive line could use a fresh start, as the unit has been taken through a wood-chipper for much of the first three games — allowing 20 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.
It won’t get any easier on Saturday.
The much-maligned group will face a ferocious Florida front that leads the nation in sacks with 16.
Although Tennessee’s coaches wouldn’t commit to Hall starting, they were optimistic about his chances to play serious snaps. When inserted, Hall would likely replace Coleman Thomas at right tackle, as the junior has been limited by a pair of ankle injuries all season.
DeBord said Wednesday is an important practice to determine Tennessee’s starting five against UF. All options are on the table, but the longtime coordinator and offensive line coach is just hoping to see consistency.
“I think we’ve been inconsistent on offense because we need to be 11-for-11 on every play,” he said.