2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Tennessee Volunteers
No. 14: Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee Volunteers Prespring Status
There was no excuse whatsoever for last year’s Tennessee team to finish 9-4 and not end up in the SEC Championship. Beating Nebraska in the bowl was nice, and winning four of the final five games sort of helped, but 2016 was supposed to be when it all came together under Butch Jones, and it didn’t happen.
Winning nine games is almost never a disaster, but considering how weak the SEC East was, it was a painfully opportunity. The team that was good enough to beat Virginia Tech and Florida also inexplicably gacked against South Carolina and Vanderbilt – is was that type of year.
So how is the team going to be any better after losing several of the key skill stars and future NFL killer pass rusher Derek Barnett? Simple – everyone else is back. Eight starters return on an offense that has to be more consistent, while eight more are back on a defense that need to be far better.
Tennessee Volunteers Biggest Issue
Joshua Dobbs. Losing RB Alvin Kamara and top receiver Josh Malone early to the NFL won’t hurt the offense all that much, but Dobbs all but carried the team by himself late in the year, led the team in rushing, and was the heart-and-soul face of the franchise all season long. While he might not have been Tom Brady throwing the ball, he hit 63% of his passes with 27 scores – he wasn’t the problem.
Quinten Dormady should be the new star with his downfield passing upside, unless Jarrett Guarantano’s athleticism, size and upside makes him the main man in spring ball.
Tennessee Volunteers Biggest Positive
Almost all of the key tacklers are back. That’s not necessarily a positive for a run defense that got flattened way too often for a D that allowed close to 450 yards per game overall, but at least the Vols are experienced. Eight of the top nine tacklers are back – only losing Barnett – with the secondary coming back loaded with options, veterans, and producers. The defensive backs were a positive, mainly because they had to make way too many plays. Now the front seven has to be better.
Really, Why Are The Tennessee Volunteers Ranked Here?
Okay, okay, OKAY – you’re going to scream that it’s another year, another overrated Tennessee team, and you’re probably right. However, while some of the star power of last year’s disappointing squad is gone, the experience is there, the talent is improving, and the expectations are going to be sky high. But again, you’ve heard it all before. It’s another very, very good Tennessee team, and now Jones has to do something big with it.