Tennessee finished with a record of 9-4. The season had some very high points but some very low points as well. The Vols started their season on a roll at 5-0, which is quite exceptional in an elite conference like the SEC East. Following that mark, they finished with a disappointing 4 wins and 4 losses. The unexpected nosedive was in large part due to injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Cameron Sutton were vital players on the defensive side of the ball that were out for a large portion of the season after the 5-0 start. As far as their 9 wins, 3 of them stood out for Tennessee. Facing Georgia, they won on a late hail merry from Joshua Dobbs to Jauan Jennings to secure the victory 34-31. In the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl game win against Nebraska, Derek Barnett broke Reggie White’s team sack record late in the 4th quarter. Additionally, anytime a team wins a bowl game it’s a big deal. The most notable win of the three came against the Florida Gators. The game didn’t end on a Hail Mary or didn’t go into overtime. In fact, the Vols won the game 38 to 28. The Vols went into halftime down 21-3; however, Dobbs and company were able to come back to win, capitalizing on several mistakes made by the Gators. This win snapped an 11 game winning streak that Florida had established over Tennessee.
Quinten Dormady, junior, started spring practice in the front of the repetition line, but head coach Butch Jones has said that there is no depth chart and that the quarterback position is still very much up for grabs. This leaves opportunity for Sophomore quarterback Sheriron Jones to win the starting job. Jones looked comfortable in open drills, and had his athleticism and accuracy on display. Nevertheless, the starting job is likely to come down to Dormady and 2016 redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano. Guarantano was listed as the nations number 1 duel threat quarterback of the 2016 class. Like Dobbs, Jarrett Guarantano shows awareness in the pocket and has the ability to escape pressure when necessary.
Tennessee’s offensive line last season with Dobbs at quarterback were 52nd in sacks allowed per game and 37th in rushing yards per game. Senior guard Jashon Robertson could be an NFL offensive lineman. Offensive line coach Walt Wells has done nice work with the offensive line, especially 5-star recruit Trey Smith who is getting off to an incredible start. The offensive line were so productive in the month of November that the Vol’s offensive averaged 50 points per game. Coming into 2017 they will be more of a veteran team and if they can stay healthy should be a much better group overall in both the run and passing game.
It is imperative that the Vol’s secondary get better results this season. They must limit the amount of explosive plays allowed. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop is considering moving to a 4-3 look. Tennessee could have 2 of the most dynamic defensive backs in the SEC with safety Todd Kelly Jr. and Nigel Warrior. Both are sons of former vols first round NFL Draft picks. Warrior is the son of former NFL All Pro Dale Carter. He is expected to push for the starting job against the more experienced Abernathy. Abernathy, who was out this spring due to surgery on his shoulder did show flashes last season but missed a game with a hamstring injury. Injuries were a big problem for the Vols last season. In fact the Vols started 11 different secondary combinations over the course of 13 games. None of the players in the secondary started every game.
According to 247 Tennessee is ranked 17th in recruiting with 1 five-star recruit, 4 four-star recruits, and 23 three-star recruits. The 5-star recruit is OL prospect Trey Smith. The best 2 four-star recruits are Maleik Gray at safety, and running back Ty Chandler. Both are top 80 nationally ranked prospects and top 10 at their respectful positions.
@ Georgia Tech (Mon. 9/4, 8pmEST on ESPN)
Indiana State (Sat. 9/9)
@ Florida (Sat. 9/16, 3:30pmEST on CBS)
Umass (Sat. 9/23)
Georgia (Sat. 9/30)
South Carolina (Sat. 10/14)
@ Alabama (Sat. 10/21)
@ Kentucky (Sat. 10/28)
Southern Miss (Sat. 11/4)
@ Missouri (Sat. 11/11)
LSU (Sat. 11/18)
Vanderbilt (Sat. 11/25)
Total Offense: 40th (443 yards/game)
Total Defense: 95th (449 yards/game)
3rd Down Conversion: 59th (72 of 175 for a .411%)