Vols can't afford to overload John Kelly vs. Florida Gators or anyone else – Knoxville News Sentinel
Butch Jones speaks to media ahead of Florida game this upcoming Saturday. Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel
Vols running back John Kelly (4) runs down field Sept. 9, 2017, during Tennessee’s game against Indiana State.(Photo: BRIANNA PACIORKA / NEWS SENTINEL)
One of football’s great ironies: Those who play the game the right way often get punished.
The sport takes a toll on the game’s hardest hitters and hardest runners. For example, think of all the running backs whose careers have been cut short because they never shortchanged their team on a play, even though it subjected them to more body blows.
I thought about that Saturday while watching one of Tennessee‘s all-time hardest runners, John Kelly. Never mind the score or the situation. He doesn’t cheat his team or his fans when he has the ball.
But you knew that last season before he became Tennessee’s lead running back. When running backs Jalen Hurd or Alvin Kamara were injured or needed a break last season, Kelly took on defenders with a vengeance.
A year later, in his junior season, he has become a one-man force. Surely, that won’t change when the Vols play Florida in the Swamp on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS).
But over the course of a 12-game season, UT will need to find more legs to support its running game.
It took steps in that direction in a 42-7 victory over Indiana State on Saturday. Four other running