KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee football season starts in 18 days and the depth chart is saturated with question marks.
"There's lots of areas of our football team that, not only do we not have starters, we don't know who the two's are, or the three's are," head coach Pruitt said.
Pruitt points to inconsistency as a major factor for not having set starters. The Vols held a private scrimmage on Sunday and ran 99 plays to evaluate the players. Pruitt found issues in all three phases, but sees many complications on defense.
"With most of our players on the defensive line, we’re still in elementary school," Pruitt said. "Hopefully this next week we can get to junior high, and then next week we can get like we’re in high school, and eventually we’ll be on the college level before the season’s over with."
The starting five on the offensive line is not set, but Pruitt sees promise in multiple guys. During Tuesday's practice, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney worked with the offensive line on blocking until the play stops. Whoever the starters will be, Pruitt says all five guys need to do the right things as a unit to have success.
"It’s amazing how much hidden yardage is out there on every play, on both sides of the ball," Pruitt said. "And if someone just strains the last part of the play, it can go from second-and-2 to first-and-10. Or it can go from second-and-2 to second-and-7. It's a big difference."
On special teams, the punter job is two-man battle between Paxton Brooks and Joe Doyle. Doyle punted 65 times last season, averaging 41.12 yards.
As for the punt and kick returner positions, Bryce Thompson, Kenny Solomon, Jordan Murphy, Ty Chandler and Eric Gray are all candidates. Marquez Callaway was Tennessee's leading punt returner last year with an 11.86-yard return average and one touchdown. Chandler, returned seven kickoffs for 113 yards in 2018.
The Vols start the season on Aug. 31 against Georgia State.