Sound Off: Tennessee priorities correlate to injuries, Georgia Tech

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Butch Jones has been transparent this fall, making it perfectly clear where he stands with his football team.

The No. 25-ranked Vols play Georgia Tech at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4, in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

SEC Country reporters Mike Griffith and Blake Morgan follow Tennessee football daily, and each week they weigh in on the Vols’ top priorities as part of the Zaxby’s Sound Off video features.

Execution

Jones wants to find continuity on the offense line quickly, as Tennessee has had discipline issues up front with players jumping offsides and struggling to hold their own against the defense.

Offensive line injuries have prevented the Vols from developing cohesiveness, but now with all of the projected rotation back from injury, it will be a race to iron out the issues.

Ball security is another issue Jones said he has stressed, though he has not gone into great detail what position group is struggling most in this area.

Georgia Tech focus

The Yellow Jackets present a unique challenge with their style of offense, which features the triple option play in addition to others that enable the quarterback to read the defense on the run and shift into the most advantageous mode.

Tennessee has committed a great deal of time to preparing for Georgia Tech since the spring football session. The defense the Vols will use to combat the Yellow Jackets offense is different than the base defense Tennessee will play the rest of the season.

Georgia Tech has won three straight games against SEC teams and five of its past six meetings.

Receiver shuffle

An apparent collarbone injury to senior slot receiver Josh Smith in practice Sunday has put Tennessee in scramble mode in an already inexperienced receiving corps.

Junior JaJuan Jennings is the only proven receiver for the Vols, who also will be breaking in a new quarterback, either junior Quinten Dormady or redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano.

Sophomore Tyler Byrd figures to pick up the most work with Smith out an expected 4-6 weeks, though freshmen Josh Palmer and Jordan Murphy also will be competing for snaps at the position.

Sophomore Brandon Johnson, who had primarily been lining up outside, is another candidate for the slot receiver rotation. Redshirt freshman Latrell Williams has yet to have the black stripe removed from his helmet, a ritual that signals a player has earned a place among the veterans.