KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football plans to have a physical run game and explosive pass game on offense, two components that were missing last season on Rocky Top.
The Vols struggled in short yardage and goal line situations last season with former coach Butch Jones opting to remain in shotgun sets that proved inefficient in losses to Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky last season.
Tennessee also ranked 105th in the nation in passing yards per attempt last season (6.4 yards) — a far cry from where Tyson Helton’s USC offense finished in 2017 (14th, 8.5 yards per attempt).
Helton, the Vols’ new offensive coordinator and the co-offensive coordinator with the Trojans last season, previewed the UT offense at the Tennessee Theatre on Wednesday night.
“You will see an offense that is an exciting offense, that is gonna pound it out, run the ball, and be a big-play offense,” said Helton, who worked alongside former Tennessee national championship quarterback Tee Martin at USC.
“We have to run to win. What does that mean? At some point and time you have to put the ball down, and everyone knows you’re running the rock. When it’s time to run it, we will run it and stick it in there, and we’re going to be good at it.”
The Vols 2017 FWAA Freshman All-American offensive lineman Trey Smith figures to be at the point of attack. Tennessee also returns rising stars in center Ryan Johnson and offensive tackle Marcus Tatum.
While an uptempo attack doesn’t figure to be part of the plan, Helton said Tennessee will aim to make things exciting with the deep pass.
The Vols are expected to shift to a pro style offense, having signed pro style freshman quarterback JT Shrout while also leaving the door open for a graduate transfer at the position.
Helton said he looks at returning dual-threat quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride and appreciates their skillsets.
Whoever lines up under center will need to throw a good deep ball from the sounds of Helton’s philosophy.
“On top of (running) you have to be an explosive team, (and) you have to throw that sucker down there and make everyone stand up and take a deep breath,” Helton said. “Whether we catch it or not, you have to throw it down there.”
Tennessee hopes to have receiver Jauan Jennings back on the team to be able to catch the football.
Athletic director Phillip Fulmer said Jennings, who reportedly underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week, has provisions to meet before potentially returning to the team this fall.
Starters Brandon Johnson and Marquez Callaway have both shown they can catch the deep ball once able to get free of press coverage.
New Tennessee receivers coach David Johnson said incoming receivers Alontae Taylor and Cedric Tillman have the ability to stretch the field, as well.
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