KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones is ready to ride the hot hand at running back Saturday night in the Battle at Bristol after Tennessee had its lowest rushing output since the 2014 season.
“I do believe in a hot hand at running back,” Jones said. “When a running back gets into a rhythm and routine, we want to feed him. We have a great dimension to our offense in the differences between Alvin (Kamara) and Jalen (Hurd).
“I do think a hot hand does have something to do with it as well.”
Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State, which listed just one defensive starter at more than 240 pounds, held the Vols to 127 yards rushing on 43 carries in the teams’ Sept. 1 opener, a 20-13 UT overtime win.
Virginia Tech (1-0) is next up for No. 17-ranked Tennessee when the team meet at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Hokies allowed Liberty just 90 yards in a 36-13 win last Saturday, including 2.57 yards per carry.
Vols’ offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who also assists with the offensive line, said UT realizes improvement is needed.
“We have to become a consistent offensive unit,” DeBord said. “I know our offensive line was disappointed in the way they played this week.”
DeBord, like Jones, hinted that more work could be ahead for Kamara, a shiftier, speedier runner than what Hurd has displayed in the early goings of this season.
“I do believe if you have a guy going you have to stay with him, but Alvin has such great speed we have to get him the ball,” DeBord said. “We have to get both of our guys involved, and if one gets it going, you have to hang with him a little bit.”
Jones and DeBord said Kamara was an option on 15 or 16 plays.
But because of how the Mountaineers defended, and the decisions QB Josh Dobbs made, Kamara only had six carries for 21 yards and three catches for 20 yards.
Hurd, meanwhile, averaged 3.9 yards per carry with 110 yards on 28 carries.