Tennessee’s recent success depends on your vantage point. There has never been a shortage of high expectations in Knoxville. After reaching just five and seven wins during his first two seasons at Tennessee, Butch Jones led the Vols to two straight 9-4 seasons.
While this may not satisfy some Tennessee fans, distance from the program may help fans realize how Jones has turned things around. The last two seasons are the best Vols fans have seen since 2007 when Tennessee notched 10 wins.
Jones finds himself in a difficult position as a coach perpetually disappointing fans with championship expectations. Given Tennessee plays in the SEC’s weaker division, some of these expectations are warranted.
With Josh Dobbs and Derek Barnett now suiting up for NFL teams, it is difficult to see how this year’s team can top the nine win threshold where Tennessee has landed the last two seasons. The only ray of hope is no SEC East team has a firm grip on the division. It is anyone’s guess who secures a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship.
According to Phil Steele, Tennessee returns 14 starters from last season. This is a solid number when compared to all of college football, but puts them near the bottom when looking at their fellow SEC East foes.
Much of the Vols success depends on their quarterback play. Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are battling for the starting position. Whoever wins faces the difficult task of following Dobbs. If Tennessee has any hope of getting over the nine-win mark, their new quarterback will need to outperform expectations.
Tennessee does have one of the best receivers in the SEC in Jauan Jennings, who had 580 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Jennings is poised for a breakout season, and should help ease the transition of the new quarterback.
Tennessee Volunteers Schedule 2017
|Sept. 4||vs. Georgia Tech||8 p.m.|
|Sept. 9||vs. Indiana State||4 p.m.|
|Sept. 16||at Florida||3:30 p.m.|
|Sept. 23||vs. UMass||TBD|
|Sept. 30||vs. Georgia||TBD|
|Oct. 14||vs. South Carolina||TBD|
|Oct. 21||at Alabama||TBD|
|Oct. 28||at Kentucky||TBD|
|Nov. 4||vs. Southern Miss||TBD|
|Nov. 11||at Missouri||TBD|
|Nov. 18||vs. LSU||TBD|
|Nov. 25||vs. Vanderbilt||TBD|
Vegas Baby, Vegas
OddsShark has Tennessee’s win total at 7.5, making Tennessee extremely difficult to project. Looking at Tennessee’s schedule, expect the Vols to hover around seven or eight wins. They open up against Georgia Tech on Labor Day. While it is a difficult matchup, expect Tennessee to be the slight favorite.
Where the Vols will find difficulty is against Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and LSU. Tennessee’s nine win threshold looks out of reach this season. With uncertainty at quarterback, look for Tennessee to fall under the Vegas win total.
Heavy’s Prediction: Tennessee goes 7-5 in 2017.
College Football Preseason Power Rankings 2017: Tennessee at No. 23
Tennessee sneaks into Heavy’s preseason top 25. The Vols are ranked 24th in the Coaches Poll, while the AP Poll will be released towards the end of August. Here’s a look at Heavy’s rankings.