September Success Will Set the Tone for the 2012 Vols

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Tight end Mychal Rivera #81 of the Tennessee Volunteers makes a reception for a touchdown against linebacker Jelani Jenkins #3 of the Florida Gators and safety Matt Elam #22 during a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

In Rocky Top Tennessee 2012, Scott Felts of Blazer Chronicles identifies five of the most important goals of the season for the Vols. Here they are in no particular order and without Scott's commentary (which you can find in the magazine):

  • Finish above .500
  • Finish in the Top 25
  • Defeat at least ONE of the "big three," (Florida, Georgia, or Alabama)
  • Win in the Georgia Dome
  • Win a bowl game

Which of those five do you think are most important to your definition of success for Tennessee in 2012? For what it's worth, I think that the most important thing is to keep hope alive for as long as possible before it comes under a full out assault in October. (I'm including 9/29/12 Georgia as an October game.) That means beating the Georgia Dome (no offense to NC State fans, I'm more leery of the Dome than the Wolfpack) to kick off the season and actually seizing the opportunity to beat a Florida team that seems to be on its heels. Do that, and the team is well on its way to most of the rest of the goals.

A September in which hope not only survives but thrives would, at the least, armor the team for what could be three losses in October, and at best, infuse the team with additional confidence that could lead to some real October success. And when November arrives, whatever happened in September defines the expectation for the last four games.

So to me, the most important goal for the Vols in 2012 is to beat the Gators. Then it's to beat the Georgia Dome. Do those two things, and losses to Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina lose some of their sting and wins against the rest of the competition become reasonable expectations. That would put the team somewhere between 7-5 and 9-3, which gets us above .500 and to a bowl game, which, of course, is the first step in winning one. Whether we finish in the Top 25 would depend on whether it's 7-5, 8-4, or 9-3, who we beat to get there, how we beat them, and how everyone else is doing. But the better we do, the better the odds we see Tennessee back in the national discussion.

And September sets the tone.

What do y'all think? Which of the five goals is most important? Have we missed any key goals for the season? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Get the Rocky Top Tennessee 2012 print edition for $19.99, the Kindle version for $9.99, or the ebook (a downloadable PDF) for $7.99.

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