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Predicting the 2016 SEC Football Season: Tennessee Vols

Haven't we heard this kind of buzz before? Maybe a year ago about a certain team from Lee County, Alabama?

Orange crushed.
Orange crushed.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Third installment in the series takes us to Pumpkintown:

Tennessee Logo

Coach: Butch Jones (21-17 in three seasons at UT; 10-14 in SEC)
2015 record: 9-4 (5-3 in SEC, T–2nd in East Division)
CB969 2015 Prediction: 8-4 "Rocky Top returns almost everyone on offense but for what that is worth, they were 93rd (11th in the SEC) in total offense in 2014."

Look back: 9-4 does not look so impressive when you consider the Vols wins came over Bowling Green, WCU, UGA, UK, SC, N Texas, Mizzou and Vandy, plus a romp over an overrated Northwestern team in a bowl game. The losses were to Okie, Fla, Arky, and Bama.

Key losses: Leading receiver Von Pearson, LB Curt Maggitt, LT Kyler Kerbyson, DB Brian Randolph, DB LaDarrell McNeil (The Vols had no players drafted by the NFL), two reserve offensive linemen are transferring out.
Returning starters: 10 on offense, 7 on defense, punter and kicker.
Top returnees:
QB Joshua Dobbs, RB Jalen Hurd, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Josh Malone, DE Derek Barnett, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, DB  Cameron Sutton, OL Jashon Robertson, KR Evan Berry, DL Kahlil McKenzie.
Top newcomers:
S Nigel Warrior, DE Jonathan Kongbo, CB Tyler Byrd, ATH Marquez Callaway, CB Marquill Osborne.

Strengths: Having many returning starters; Dobbs & Hurd; first three and last four games of the season.
Weaknesses: Sky-high expectations, wide receivers, left tackle, secondary, a four week stretch of Fla, at UGA, at TAMU, Bama.

Outlook: For the second year in a row, Tennessee returns a bunch of starters on offense but this time, they moved up to 52nd (7th in the SEC) in total offense for 2015... Derek Barnett and Jalen Reeves-Maybin have potential to be first round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft... Under Butch Jones, the Vols are 3-13 against ranked teams... The Vols leave the state only three times in 2016.

2016 Schedule:

Sep 1, Appalachian State - W - Thursday game.
Sep 10, Virginia Tech - W - One of the strangest venues of all time, this game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bring your binoculars because the players will look like little orange ants. (FYI: Western Carolina will play East Tennessee State in that same location one week later.)
Sep 17, Ohio - W - I hope the Vols enjoy those first three games because it is about to get real.
Sep 24, Florida - W - UT is SO geared up to win this game more than any other.
Oct 1, at Georgia - L - Call me crazy but I think Tennessee will have a big hangover and blow this one.
Oct 8, at Texas A&M - W - This could be a trap game if Rocky Top is looking ahead to next week.
Oct 15, Alabama - L - Ten in a row.
Oct 22, off week
Oct 29, at South Carolina - W - not even close.
Nov 5, Tennessee Tech - W - There is a Tennessee Tech??
Nov 12, Kentucky - W - So long Stoops.
Nov 19, Missouri - W - Train wreck.
Nov 26, at Vanderbilt - W - The 'Dores could give them a scare, but Vandy will be Vandy.

Let's go Bowling! Yes, but no playoffs. Probably second tier in Florida.

After looking at the schedule, I guess I can see why some observers are so high on this team. The beginning and ending are about as weak as one could hope for. It is that four week SEC gauntlet in the middle they have to get through.


Other previews:

  • Hogville
  • Missy State Clanga-Clangs
  • #RollTide