Thursday, February 23, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Tennessee Volunteers

The SEC had a down year compared to other years, as Alabama was the lone team to win 10 games or more in 2016. That is an unusual turn of events for the self proclaimed best conference in college football. The East was still down, as Florida and Tennessee continued to struggle despite having high expectations. Georgia is still trying to find themselves under Kirby Smart. LSU made a mess of the Les Miles situation. Ole Miss was clouded over by off-field issues. Here is a look back at the 2016 SEC season, on a team by team basis.

Tennessee Volunteers
9-4 (4-4)

2016 Schedule
Beat Appalachian State 20-13
Beat Virginia Tech 45-24
Beat Ohio 28-19
Beat Florida 38-28
Beat Georgia 34-31
Lost to Texas A&M 45-38
Lost to Alabama 49-10
Lost to South Carolina 24-21
Beat Chattanooga 55-0
Beat Kentucky 49-36
Beat Missouri 63-37
Lost to Vanderbilt 45-34
Beat Nebraska 38-24 (Music City Bowl)

MVP Offense: QB Joshua Dobbs, WR Josh Malone
Dobbs was probably one of the most embattled QBs in Tennessee history. You went from loving him to hating him and back again, and he turned in a decent, if not always consistent, effort in 2016. Dobbs passed for 2946 yards with 27 scores and 12 picks. He managed to complete 63% of his passes, and tossed 4 scores in a win over Florida.
Malone was the key component in the passing game all season. He caught 50 passes, but those went for 972 yards and 11 scores on the season. He averaged 19.44 yards per reception, and he was good for 74.8 yards per game.
MVP Defense: DE Derek Barnett
Barnett was one of the best defenders nationally in 2016. He finished with 56 tackles on the season, and added 19 TFLs, 13 sacks, 5 PBUs, 16 QB hurries, and 2 forced fumbles. There were few players as dominant as Barnett anywhere.
Others of Note
Dobbs also led the Vols in rushing with 831 yards and 12 more scores.
Jalen Hurd played in just 7 games, and then announced he would transfer away from Tennessee.
Alvin Kamara rushed for 9 scores.
The top three tacklers (Todd Kelly, Jr., Micah Abernathy, Rashaan Gauldon) were all DBs.
Corey Vereen was often overlooked for Barnett on the D line, and used that to finish with 11.5 TFLs.
Trevor Daniel had a solid season at Punter, as he averaged 44.57 yards per punt.
Best Win: Beat Florida 38-28
The Vols had not beaten the Gators in forever, and this was the year to pull it off, and it may have saved the tail of coach Butch Jones. The Vols beat Georgia the following week, but then went on a three game skid. Dobbs played his best game of the year here.
Worst Loss: Lost to Vanderbilt 45-34
Losing to Vandy is always something that sits rancidly on the palates of Vol fans, and this win basically got the Commodores into a bowl game, making it sting just a bit more.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/4 Georgia Tech, 9/9 Indiana State, 9/23 U Mass, 11/4 Southern Mississippi
This is a fairly weak non con schedule for Tennessee. Georgia Tech presents a challenge, but Indiana State and U Mass, both in September, is ludicrous scheduling. I am hoping nobody has to pay full price for those dates. Southern Miss was very much down in 2016, but the Vols should still be favored heavily here.

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