2010 Tennessee Preview – Offense
Tennessee TE Luke Stocker
Tennessee TE Luke Stocker
Posted Jun 21, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Tennessee Volunteer Offense

Tennessee Volunteers

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The offense started to hit its stride midway through last year, but it wasn't steady. Now it's going to be wildly inconsistent, and the hope will be for it to work for any appreciable stretch under new coordinator Jim Chaney. The receiving corps has the potential to be among the most talented in the SEC, and the backfield is loaded with great runners, but they might all be kept under wraps unless the quarterbacks and linemen show they can play. All five starters have to be replaced up front, and while it might take a little while to produce, the payoff should be enormous; this is a more talented line than last year's. Quarterback will be the bigger problem with Matt Simms (Phil's son and Chris's brother) and star prospect Tyler Bray looking to survive under fire.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Gerald Jones (WR)
0-1 Rushing: David Oku
23 carries, 94 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Gerald Jones
46 catches, 680 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Senior TE Luke Stocker
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Matt Simms
Unsung star on the rise: Freshman OT Ja'Wuan James
Best pro prospect: Stocker
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Stocker, 2) WR Gerald Jones, 3) RB Tauren Poole
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Receiver
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, Line Experience


Projected Starter: Junior Matt Simms isn't as good as his brother, Chris, and he certainly isn't as talented as his dad, Phil, but the Louisville transfer will get the first look at the starting job despite a rocky offseason. At 6-3 and 209 pounds he has good size and a decent arm, but his main assets at the moment are his experience, having thrown for 2,204 yards and 17 touchdowns for El Camino CC, and his personality, he's extremely likeable and a natural leader. However, he threw 12 picks at the JUCO level and completed just 4-of-10 passes for 39 yards and a pick at Louisville. While he's the safe option at the moment, he might be quickly replaced to get one of the young prospects some key playing time.

Projected Top Reserves: Freshman Tyler Bray got to Tennessee before the bowl game and has been around long enough to not have too many of the normal problems that newcomers have, but he'll still need some time and seasoning. The 6-6, 210-pounder is very tall and very thin with a tremendous arm and all the skills to potentially be a great college player. However, he doesn't have special skills and he isn't a sure-thing, next-level type like most of the Elite 11 campers are. He originally signed with San Diego State before choosing Tennessee, and while he could use a redshirt year, he might be too good not to be thrown into the fire.

While he's not expected to push for the starting job, sophomore Nick Lamaison could be an interesting emergency option. The 6-1, 212-pound JUCO transfer threw for 3,479 yards and 36 touchdowns for Mt. San Antonio College in California, and he has the arm and the passing skills to step in and produce.

Watch Out For … a premium put on ball security. The coaching staff won't ask the young quarterbacks to be stars, but keeping the turnovers to a minimum will be a must. This is a young team overall that will need all the breaks it can get, and it won't be able to overcome a slew of quarterback problems.
Strength: 2011. Is it possible to fast forward a year to when Bray has a year of experience under his belt and Simms can be more adequately evaluated? The receiving corps is good and the running game should help, but there will be several bumps on the ride.
Weakness: Experience. There isn't enough to count on right away, and with a brand new starting five up front to work behind, it's going to take a while before the starter feels comfortable.
Outlook: Things can't be much worse than they were before the light went on for Jonathan Crompton halfway through last year. Bray is a talent with the potential to be a great one with good coaching and some time, and Simms is an interesting young prospect who'll has looked the part at times. By far, this is the team's weakest area going into the season and it'll take about half the year before the coaching staff doesn't have to hide the starter.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Junior Tauren Poole has the potential to be one of the SEC's breakout stars. Kept under wraps by the old regime, the 5-11, 213-pound speedster was the two-time Georgia high school player of the year after running for 5,413 career yards, and he looked the part this offseason when he got his chance to take over the ground game. He only ran for 85 yards last year, with 62 coming in the opener against Western Kentucky, and without a lot of tread on the tires, he should be fresh and ready to carry the attack.

The offense used the fullback more often last year with senior Kevin Cooper serving as a strong blocker and a nice outlet valve for the passing game catching 12 passes for 110 yards and a score. He only got one carry for three yards, but he was a key part of the ground attack able to use his 6-0, 242-pound frame as a hole blaster.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore David Oku would've been the hyped up, crown jewel of the 2009 recruiting class if the Vols hadn't signed Bryce Brown. Now with Brown gone, Oku could see far more time than originally expected. Oklahoma really, really wanted him, and now he could be one of the keys to the UT attack. While he might not be huge at 5-10 and 195 pounds, he can fly. He got a little bit of mop up work last year running 23 times for 94 yards and two scores, with both touchdowns coming in the opener against Western Kentucky, but he did the most damage as a kickoff returner averaging a terrific over 26 yards per pop.

6-1, 212-pound redshirt freshman Toney Williams will bring the power to the equation. A tough, downhill runner, he's coming off a torn ACL and is still trying to get into a groove. He had some tough sledding in offseason practices failing to show too much wiggle and not getting much room to move, but in time he'll be a good, tough option to go along with the speedsters in the backfield.

5-11, 215-pound true freshman Rajion Neal was the Georgia Player of the Year leading Sandy Creek to the AAAA state title. Very slippery for his size with good pop between the tackles, he's a sound, tough runner who can be a workhorse to go along with his deep speed. The backfield might be a bit crowded, but the coaching staff will find a spot for him.

Watch Out For … Poole. Was Lane Kiffin right? Poole has looked so good in practices that he's making the former coaching staff look foolish for keeping him on the bench, but if he can hold up and if he can translate the passing production to the field, he could be one of the SEC's breakout stars.
Strength: Talent. Poole, Oku, and Neal could form a solid starting trio for just about anyone else and produce big numbers. The offense will lean on Poole and Oku heavily early on, and Neal could be a major factor right away in his first year.
Weakness: The supporting cast. The quarterback situation could be a disaster and five new starters are stepping in up front. The backs might be talented, but no one will know it considering every defense will tee off to stop them.
Outlook: Tennessee loaded up on terrific running back recruits over the last few years, and while the loss of Bryce Brown stings talent-wise, it might be a case of addition by subtraction in the locker room. The duo of Poole and Oku should be deadly, and Neal is a great one waiting in the wings. The offense will rely on the ground game to carry the mail, and the chances will be there for everyone get plenty of work.
Unit Rating: 8


Projected Starters: After having a problem early on with an ankle injury, Gerald Jones grew into his role as the No. 1 receiver finishing with 46 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns averaging over 14 yards per catch. While he wasn't used as a runner like he was earlier in his career, and he ceded his punt return duties, he has become a more polished receiver and will be the go-to guy from the start yet again. With 6-0, 195-pound size, he's not all that big, but he's phenomenally quick and deadly in the open field.

Finishing second on the team in receiving was Denarius Moore, a 6-1, 194-pound senior who finished with 40 catches for 540 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns. After making just one catch in the first three games, he blossomed as a rock-steady target who caught three or more passes in nine of the final ten games. A deadly downfield playmaker, he should destroy mediocre No. 2 corners with all the attention paid to Gerald Jones on the other side.

6-6, 253-pound senior Luke Stocker could've gone early and been a top 100 NFL draft pick, and now he'll be on the All-SEC and All-America tight end short list. He's a do-it-all player who caught 29 passes for 389 yards and five touchdowns as a reliable target and one of the team's best route runners. A bulldozer of a blocker, he's underappreciated for his ability to pound away down the field. Under the new coaching staff, he should blow up with more passes coming his way.

Projected Top Reserves: One of the superstar recruits in last year's class, sophomore Marsalis Teague was snatched away from Florida, Alabama, and Miami and he showed some nice flashes catching 13 passes for 147 yards and two scores. While six of his grabs came in garbage time in the opener, he got a little bit of work in and he should now be a key No. 3 receiver and a backup behind Gerald Jones. The former high school quarterback isn't all that big at 5-10 and 178 pounds, but he's fluid and should develop into a terrific slot receiver with a little more work and refinement.

True sophomore Zach Rogers will work in three and four wide sets playing behind Denarius Moore. The 6-0, 178-pounder is extremely quick and has the potential to be dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands on the move. He only caught three passes for 19 yards, and ran once for 15 more, but he's ready to take on a big role.

Da'Rick Rogers was the star of the recruiting class and could very quickly be the team's top playmaking receiver. The 6-3, 215-pounder was ranked in the top three on everyone's list of top wideout prospects after setting the Georgia state record with 1,641 yards with 22 touchdowns. A matchup nightmare with all the next-level tools, he'll be special.

Former fullback Ben Bartholomew is a strong, tough blocker who'll work into the lineup here and there at tight end. The 6-1, 247-pound junior isn't built like a pass catcher and doesn't necessarily look the part, but he's a big-time hitter who should be great for the ground game. He'll get a few passes thrown his way.

Watch Out For … the true freshmen. Rogers is the star of the show, but Ted Meline, Justin Hunter, and Matt Milton are all top-shelf prospects with the potential to shove everyone but Jones out of the way for playing time.
Strength: Jones, Moore, and Stocker. On a team that needs as many reliable offensive playmakers as possible to start the season, having gamebreaking veterans like Moore and Jones will mean everything, while Stocker is an NFL talent hanging around the college game for one more year.
Weakness: The quarterbacks. Will anyone get this talented group the ball? The quarterback play will be erratic at best, and the running attack will get most of the work early on. Jones and Moore could disappear for long stretches, and it won't be their fault.
Outlook: On pure talent, from the starting seniors to the phenomenal freshman class, the Vols are loaded. There's size, speed, and a boatload of ability. Can this be the coaching staff to properly utilize all the weapons? That remains to be seen, but on skill level, this group will be comparable to anyone in the SEC.
Unit Rating: 8

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The line is starting from scratch, and that means several untested players will have to step up and produce. Redshirt freshman JerQuari Schofield has no experience, but he's a massive blocker and is far more talented than last year's starter, Cory Sullins. Schofield is 6-6 and 331 pounds with the size and athleticism to play at the next level. The tools are all in place, and now he needs the time.

Taking over in the middle for Cody Sullins will be Cody Pope , a 6-6, 290-pound junior who brings far more size than Sullins and can move extremely well. Very smart and extremely tough, he has excellent upside even though he hasn't seen much of the field yet. The spotlight will be on as he grabs the starting center job.

Able to work at either guard or tackle, senior Jarrod Shaw is a big, athletic blocker for his size and should be great on the inside. He'll take over the starting right guard job from Jacques McClendon, and he'll be the crusty veteran for the inexperienced line with a few starts under his belt. He's in the right position and he should be a bulldozer for the ground game.

The line's biggest loss is at left tackle where Chris Scott was dominant at times. Sophomore Dallas Thomas is smaller, more athletic, and he has the feet to be the better pass protector. A strong 6-5 and 295 pounds, he's not going to have problems with the running game and he should shine once he settles into the position. He'll grow into a whale of a blocker.

True freshman Ja'Wuan James has a world of upside but a ton of pressure on his shoulders replacing Aaron Douglas. The 6-7, 313-pound giant is a future all-star who has played in practice like a much older, much more seasoned player with nice feet and great finishing ability. He'll be a special one in time.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Carson Anderson isn't all that big at 6-2 and 280 pounds, but he's very quick and very good. Smart and versatile, he can step in at center, which might be his most natural position, but will start out working behind Jarrod Shaw at right guard as a more agile option.

6-2, 285-pound redshirt freshman Kevin Revis was a nice recruit considered a midrange guard prospect and a possible elite center. He'll start out at left guard where he'll be a pounding run blocker, even though he isn't huge, but he has the smarts and the potential to be a nice fill-in at center from time to time.

True freshman Daniel Hood bulked up over the last year, and while he'll never be a huge blocker, the 6-4, 275-pounder can move. A Tennessee high school superstar, he has tight end athleticism with the feet to be fantastic at left tackle. He won't push out Dallas Thomas, but he'll be a great reserve.

Watch Out For … James. The veteran defensive linemen had a few problems with the true freshman on the right side, and while there will be some rocky moments, he has the size and the next-level tools to become a rock on the Vol line. The talent is there, and now he just needs the experience.
Strength: Skill and upside. There might not be any experience, but the talent level has been raised a few notches. Last year's line was a rag-tag bunch of try-hards and disappointing former all-star recruits, but it worked. Given time, this line will be far better.
Weakness: Experience. The last thing a new coaching staff wants to deal with is a shaky offensive line, and while the front five is big, talented, and very, very promising, there's no experience to count on and even less depth.
Outlook: The two starting tackles will be underclassmen, a freshman is starting at left guard, and there's a lot of hope being thrown out there that Shaw and Pope can produce on the inside. However, even with all the concerns and the loss of everyone of note from last year, the sky isn't falling. This is a more talented, more athletic line than last year's and it's going to be good. It might be a case of a step back to take a giant leap forward, but the payoff will come over the second half of this year and definitely going into 2011.
Unit Rating: 6.5

- 2010 Tennessee Preview | 2010 Tennessee Offense
- 2010 Tennessee Defense | 2010 Tennessee Depth Chart
- Tennessee Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006