Vols’ Chandler shows his speed against Miners
KNOXVILLE — Ty Chandler graced the covers of college football preview magazines around the region this summer, but other Tennessee running backs grabbed headlines for their performances in the Volunteers’ first two games.
In a 24-0 win over Texas-El Paso on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, Chandler finally got his chance to shine.
“It felt great. It’s just a blessing to be back out there,” Chandler, a sophomore, said after leading the Vols with 158 yards on 12 carries against the Miners. “Man, I was excited to be out there and playing with those guys and doing my part, doing everything I can.”
Tennessee’s running game has blossomed into a committee effort through the first three games of the season. In a season-opening loss to West Virginia, sophomore Tim Jordan ran for 118 yards on 20 carries. Against East Tennessee State the following week, graduate transfer Madre London and freshman Jeremy Banks impressed with two touchdowns each as the Vols cruised to victory.
Chandler, meanwhile, watched from the sideline. He went through warmups before the ETSU game but did not play as the coaches took a cautious approach after he suffered an apparent head injury in the first half of the West Virginia game. The staff knew Chandler’s talent, but his season stat ledger stalled at minus4 yards rushing on four carrries from the opener.
“It was tough, but it’s just fighting through adversity,” Chandler said. “I’ve got good teammates encouraging me to get back out there, ready to get back out there. I was just able to fight through, man, keep pushing, just keep moving forward. I’m glad it paid off.”
The running back committee is earning a reputation for its bruising style, but it’s Chandler’s speed that sets him apart. The former Nashville Montgomery Bell Academy football and track standout flashed his quickness on an 81-yard touchdown scamper down the left sideline on the first play of Saturday’s second half.
“Ty is a guy that is a pretty instinctive runner,” Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “He has good vision, but he (also) has good speed. So he got out there and did a good job finishing that run.”
Jennings gets involved
Denny from Greeneville can sleep soundly this week. On the “Vol Calls” radio show Wednesday night, Denny chided Pruitt for redshirt junior receiver Jauan Jennings’ limited involvement in the offense through two games.
“I just wonder why he’s not getting the ball enough,” Denny said. “He’s a great playmaker and I can’t understand why he’s not getting the ball enough.”
On Saturday, Jennings finally returned to the end zone, taking a swing pass from quarterback Jarrett Guarantano for a 4-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. He totaled 22 yards on three receptions.
Jennings missed nearly all of the 2017 season with a wrist injury, was kicked off the team in November, returned under Pruitt but had a knee operation in the winter that forced him to miss spring practice. Jennings then suffered a minor setback during preseason practice. He caught seven touchdown passes in 2016, and Pruitt fielded numerous questions this past week about getting Jennings more involved.
“He wasn’t able to go in the spring,” Pruitt said. “I think Jauan has a really competitive spirit about him. When he gets to the game, he likes to compete. I think the more he gets to practice, as he is doing more and more each week, the closer he is getting to play all the time.”
Tennessee issued 1,067 free tickets to Hurricane Florence refugees from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Tennessee receiver Jauan Jennings heads to the end zone for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game in Knoxville.
Brent Cimaglla celebrates his field goal against the University of Texas El Paso Miners on Saturday.