Friday, August 27, 2010
SEC 2010-Tennessee Volunteers
2009 Record: 7-6 (4-4)
Head Coach: Derek Dooley (1st season, 0-0...17-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Justin Wilcox (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Peach Bowl, lost to Virginia Tech 37-14
Offense: Oh boy...there are some issues here. Nick Stephens was supposed to easily win the QB job last spring, but instead was bumped to 3rd string and quit. Enter Matt Simms (yes, of the overhyped Simms family of QBs) a JC transfer who will now start fresh out of the lower ranks. Tyler Bray will back him up, and neither one of these guys has a single snap of experience on the D1 level. Hooray. And here is the best news of all...they both stank during spring ball. Want better news? Well here it is Vols...5 new starters on the line!!! Yes 5,, with no experience in the QB behind them!!! Can you say sack city, baby? Oh...I almost forgot...There is a new RB too. The hits just keep on coming for UT on offense. The actual good news is that both Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore both return at WR, as does TE Luke Stocker, who may be the best TE in the SEC right now.
Defense: If anyone wonders how UT even managed to win 7 games last season, they have to look to the defense, as it ranked 12th against the pass last season. Wilcox comes in as DC from Boise State, so he knows his business, after having manufactured a game plan that held TCU to 10 points in the Fiesta Bowl. There is bad news here as well though, as Eric Berry is gone and he took Dan Williams with him. DE Chris Walker is very good, and will anchor the line. Ben Martin returns at the other DE spot, but both DTs are new starters, and they are both sophomores. There is experience aplenty at LB, as all 3 return, including Nick Reveiz. Janzen Jackson (SS) was a all freshman SEC pick in 2009. There is some hope here.
Special Teams: Chad Cunningham probably wanted to puke after every punt last season, as he had a huge leg, but could only sit back and watch his coverage teams eveaporate before his very eyes. He averaged 42 yards per punt, only to see his net end up at 34.3. Not cool. Daniel Lincoln is back at PK, but he is in a position to lose his job to freshman Michael Palardy. Lincoln was blocked twice by Alabam last season, and then went inot a nasty funk.
Wins: 9/4 Tennessee-Martin, 9/25 UAB, 11/6 Memphis, 11/20 Vanderbilt, 11/27 Kentucky
Toss Up Games: 10/30 @ South Carolina, 11/13 Ole Miss
Losses: 9/11 Oregon, 9/18 Florida, 10/2 @ LSU, 10/9 @ Georgia, 10/23 Alabama
A repeat of last season's 7 win performance would be a miracle. I would normally rag on a team for scheduling UT Martin, but hey, the Vols have to beat somebody, right? If everything falls apart, the Vols could drop down to 4 wins.
Outlook: The hiring of Derek Dooley felt safe to me. There is no fire in this hire, and all of the high profile candidates that were targeted turned the job down, meaning that there is a lot to dislike about what's going on in Knoxville. Dooley comes from an awesome pedigree, but he didn't exactly bring down the moon at Louisiana Tech in the very weak WAC. He will be on a very short leash, so he'd better fix this mess quickly. The cubbard is basically bare on offense, and the games that the Vols do win will be won by the D.