Tennessee Football: Vols Will Find Difficulty Winning SEC East

tennessee vols, schedule, prediction,

Getty Despite public perception, Butch Jones has done a good job turning around the Tennessee program.

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.

1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
4. USC
5. Washington
6. Penn State
7. Oklahoma
8. Oklahoma State
9. Clemson
10. Michigan
11. Louisville
12. Wisconsin
13. LSU
14. Georgia
15. Miami
16. Florida
17. USF
18. Auburn
19. West Virginia
20. TCU
21. Stanford
22. Virginia Tech
23. Tennessee
24. Texas
25. UCLA