Tennessee needs young, unproven wide receivers to step up in season opener

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee offense will have to grow up fast, particularly at wide receiver, when the Volunteers square off with Georgia Tech on Monday.

Junior Jauan Jennings and senior Josh Smith will bring experience into the game, but they are the only two. Smith will be a game-time decision after he fell awkwardly on his shoulder in fall camp.

Coach Butch Jones said at a press conference on Wednesday that Tennessee needs the wide receiver group to come into its own quickly.

“That’s an extremely young group and we’re going to have to rely on the game experience of Jauan Jennings and Josh Smith. if he’s able to play,” Jones said. “You also have some individuals who had some game reps like Brandon Johnson. That’s a group where we’re going to have to play some youngsters and they are going to have to grow up in a hurry and grow up fast.”

Jennings recorded 40 receptions for 580 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2016. Smith had 13 receptions and a touchdown last season.

Johnson has experience, but had only 7 receptions last season for 93 yards, which puts into perspective how little experience this group has.

Freshman who could step up

Freshman Josh Palmer could play a big role in the game. Tennessee has him bracketed on the depth chart as a possible starter, and he has impressed everyone this fall with his  consistency.

Senior tight end Ethan Wolf said Wednesday that Palmer has bright future with the Vols.

“Josh is a naturally gifted kid,”  Wolf said. “I didn’t really know much about him until he got out here and started playing. I got to know him a little bit better and he’s a really nice guy as well. He’s going to be a really special player here. I’m excited to see how he does this year and even the seasons to come too.”

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Tennessee will need a combination of Jennings, Smith, Johnson or Palmer to make plays for the Vols to win.

Georgia Tech’s defense will force Tennessee’s wide receivers to play with no errors to make plays, offensive coordinator Larry Scott said Thursday.

“You can tell they are a veteran bunch on defense,” Scott said. “There aren’t many times when you see a guy out of a gap that he should be in, or a coverage bust. When I think about it, they play well together and are very sound.”

The post Tennessee needs young, unproven wide receivers to step up in season opener appeared first on SEC Country.

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