Tennessee athletics photo/courtesy
Tennessee football tight end James Brown is one of the players Coach Jeremy Pruitt is challenging to show they can block more effectively.

Tennessee football’s base offensive formation a work in progress

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —  Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt knows what he wants his offense to do, but he and offensive coordinator Ty Helton are still figuring out which players are going to do it.

Question of the day

What will be the Vols’ base offensive formation?

Pruitt said following practice on Thursday, the 11th of the team’s allotted 15, that the base personnel package remains a work in progress.

Will Tennessee line up with two backs, one tight end and two receivers? Or will the Vols use one back, one tight end and three receivers?

A two-tight end look shouldn’t be ruled out, but as of Thursday it didn’t sound likely.

Pruitt wants his offense to be able to run the football when needed, but still be able to stretch the field and make explosive plays.

“I think we have to figure out what our best personnel is, and then once we figure out what our best personnel is, that’s what we need to put on the field,” Pruitt said, asked if Tennessee might use a fullback in its pro style offense. “We’re trying to figure out do we have any tight ends, I’m talking about tight ends that can block, not line up there run pass patterns. If we’re gonna run pass patterns, I’d rather put wide receivers out there.”

But not just any wide receivers, Pruitt made clear.

“Do we have any wide receivers that are hard to guard?” Pruitt said. “I wouldn’t say there’ s a whole lot of fullbacks on our team, so we still have to figure out personnel and who we are gonna be.”

It’s not the first time Pruitt has called out the tight end position for a lack pf physicality.

In fairness to the current tight ends, all were recruited by the previous coaching staff, which ran an uptempo spread attack in which the position was not as relied upon to block.

Some of the tight ends on the roster are smaller, and Pruitt would like to see them add weight.

Departing Tennessee tight end Ethan Wolf confided that every time Pruitt sees him, the new head coach tells him to have his younger brother, tight end Eli Wolf, add some weight.

Times have indeed changed, as Pruitt made clear earlier in the week when asked about the players changing positions, which included tight end LaTrell Bumphus moving to defensive line.

“Some of these guys changing positions, you line up on the goal line, you may want to put defensive linemen down as tight ends,” Pruitt said. “You may not want to play any wide receivers,  and it doesn’t matter how many offensive linemen are healthy.

“So we’re gonna find a way to play the way we want to play, and if we have to play some guys that have to play both ways, we’ll do that in certain situations.”

Incoming tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson, the No. 1-rated junior college player at the position, should take note.

Tennessee tight ends on Saturday