Tennessee Football: Vols OC Jim Chaney Better Be Right About His Running Game

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 15, 2012

Tennessee RB Rajion Neal
Tennessee RB Rajion NealAndy Lyons/Getty Images

The Tennessee football team is flying under the radar this season, due in large part to the attention being gobbled up by head coach Derek Dooley's status on the hot seat.

But with quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter, the Vols are potentially explosive.

What will take them to the next level is a solid running game, and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is liking what he's seeing out of his running backs during fall camp.

"Are we the greatest running team in football history? No, but I think we're improved," Chaney told Evan Woodbery of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel.

They better be.

Tennessee finished 2011 ranked last in the SEC in rushing offense with an average of 90.08 yards per game—34 yards per game behind 11th-place Kentucky.

That's just awful.

Some of those issues in the running game were due to inconsistencies along the offensive line, which returns its core group. If there's any unit that benefits from continuity, it's the offensive line. 

Rajion Neal, Devrin Young and Marlin Lane hope to be a big part of the revitalized rushing attack.

Chaney told Woodbery that if the season started today, his recommendation on the depth chart would be Neal and Young atop the depth chart, with Lane behind them in third.

You can't be one-dimensional in the SEC, even with Rogers and Hunter outside. Whether it's one particular running back or all of them combined, the Vols need to get better in a hurry.

Chaney's offense doesn't have to be the greatest running game in football history, but improvement to the middle of the pack in the SEC will certainly go a long way towards keeping the coaching staff employed and calming the fears of Vol Nation.

The Vols don't get the luxury of waiting around. Three of their first five games before the bye week are vs. N.C. State, Florida and Georgia.