It is installment number five of wild blind dart-throwing predictions. Today, we move to the land of pumpkin orange.
WEEK 5: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Coach: Jeremy Pruitt (13-12, SEC 7-9, beginning his third season)
2019 record: 7-5, 1-0 Bowl (5-3 in SEC, 3rd in the East Division)
CB969 2019 Prediction: 7-5; “On paper, the Vols should have a good shot to win at least nine games. But they are still the Vols. They could easily lose to BYU, MSU, and/or SC...”
Looking back: Before we begin, let me put his out there: Georgia State Panthers 38 Tennessee Volunteers 30. Yes, this really happened one season ago. They also lost a home game to BYU. Tennessee played three ranked teams (Fla, UGA, Bama) and lost by a collective 112-30. While the Vols did win their final six games, the best team they beat was Kentucky who had a wide receiver at emergency quarterback. To their credit, they did get 8 wins including a 23-22 comeback victory in the Gator Bowl over Indiana. [Side Note: Butch Jones went 9-4 in both 2015 & 2016 with bowl wins and they wanted his ass out!]
Returning starters: 5 on offense, 6 on defense, punter, kicker.
Key losses: EDGE Darrell Taylor (Round 2, Seahawks), WR Jauan Jennings (Round 7, 49ers), WR Marquez Callaway, LB Daniel Bituli, TE Dom Wood-Anderson, S Nigel Warrior, LB Daniel Bituli, WR Marquez Callaway.
Top returnees: OT Trey Smith, LB Henry To’o-To’o, RB Ty Chandler, RB Eric Gray, EDGE Kivon Bennett, OT Wanya Morris, DB Shawn Shamburger, OL Brandon Kennedy, CB Bryce Thompson, DT Aubrey Solomon, DB Theo Jackson, PK Brent Cimaglia, 3-Headed QB Jarrett Guarantano-Brian Maurer-J.T. Shrout.
Top newcomers: OT Cade Mays (UGA transfer pending appeal because Kirby is a-hole), WR Velus Jones (grad transfer So Cal), DB Keshawn Lawrence (Nashville, TN), DT Omari Thomas (Eads, TN), WR Malachi Wideman (Venice, FL), DE Tyler Baron (Knoxville, TN), DT Dominic Bailey (Baltimore, MD).
* UPDATE: Cade Mays has won his eligibility appeal. It just needs approval by the SEC which should not be a problem. Kirby must be furious!
Name you need to know: Aubrey Solomon was a 5-star DT prospect out of Georgia who made the confounding decision to sign with Michigan. After wasting two years in Ann Arbor, his original Alabama recruiter Jeremy Pruitt convinced him to transfer to Tennessee in 2019. Last season, Solomon had 28 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, one hurry and one recovered fumble. He will be looking for an even bigger season as a senior to justify his former recruiting ranking.
Strengths: The left side of the OL (Trey, Wanya) will be solid... Top three rushers return... Punter and kicker are back... Plenty of QBs to choose from... Pruitt’s defensive mind...
Weaknesses: The right side of the OL (newbies)... Lost three of top four receivers to graduation...
Cade Mays eligibility looks doubtful... Defense is still suspect... Three QBs back but all had issues at times in 2019...
Outlook: While Pruitt has turned this program around a bit, they are not ready to challenge for the SEC East crown just yet. Could they upset Florida or Georgia? On a good day, yes, but they won’t beat both. The Vols are still a second tier team in the East. The offense is chockfull of seniors plus junior Mays - who could head to the NFL after the season. Despite 25 career starts, senior QB Guarantano is still erratic and got benched in 2019. UT was 100th in average yards per game and 97th in scoring in 2019. Conversely, the defense is a little more on the younger side but talented - 29th in scoring defense and 23rd in yards yielded per game last season.
Sep 26 at South Carolina - W
Oct 3 Missouri - W
Oct 10 at Georgia - L
Oct 17 Kentucky - W
Oct 24 Alabama - L
Oct 31 bye
Nov 7 at Arkansas - W
Nov 14 Texas A&M - L
Nov 21 at Auburn - L
Nov 28 at Vanderbilt - W
Dec 5 Florida - L
How many regular season wins for UT?
This poll is closed
7 or more (really?)
4 or less
Sat, Sep 26 @ Missouri
Sat, Oct 3 vs Texas A&M
Sat, Oct 10 @ Ole Miss
Sat, Oct 17 vs Georgia
Sat, Oct 24 @ Tennessee
Sat, Oct 31 vs Mississippi State
Sat, Nov 14 @ LSU
Sat, Nov 21 vs Kentucky
Sat, Nov 28 vs Auburn
Sat, Dec 5 @ Arkansas