Gandy injury hurts cohesion

First-team center Richie Gandy suffered a knee injury in Thursday's Vol workout and, while the severity is not known, Gandy's absence is a blow to Tennessee's offensive continuity.

Obviously, you can't start a play until the center snaps the ball. And a bad snap can be disastrous, as Erik Ainge learned on the final play of the first half vs. Notre Dame last November.

With Gandy joining David Ligon (high-ankle sprain) on the sidelines, Tennessee will take the practice field Friday with its top two centers hobbling. Throw in the fact Cameron Mayo (torn ACL) is out, and the Vols may be down to their No. 4 center just 15 days shy of the Sept. 3 opener.

Perhaps Gandy's injury is minor and he'll be back on the field shortly. That's the best-case scenario. Even if that's the case, though, he's missing valuable practice reps at a time when the Vol offensive line needs to be meshing into a cohesive unit.

The good news: Rob Smith and Cody Douglas can play center. In fact, head coach Phillip Fulmer had them getting some reps there Monday in response to the ankle injury Ligon suffered last Saturday. But moving Smith or Douglas to center weakens Tennessee at guard. Walk-on Michael Frogg is an option at center but he's never played a meaningful snap in a college game. Then there's heralded freshman Josh McNeil, who has never played a snap – meaningful or otherwise – in a college game.

Is Gandy's injury a disaster? Probably not. Even if he's out several weeks, the Vols should be able to find a suitable replacement among Smith, Douglas, Frogg and McNeil. But Gandy's injury is a concern. The Vols need to be developing some offensive consistency, and it's hard to do that when you don't know from one day to the next who'll be snapping the ball to your quarterback.

Oops. Make that your QUARTERBACKS.

Oh, well … maybe cohesion is overrated.

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