5-7 win loss for 2014 UT Vols football is not out of the realm of possibility.
Let’s assume for the moment that this becomes the 2014 season ending record? What say you…the fan?
Well…I’m a fan and I say "I hope not". Can the Vols avoid this unsavory but apparently relentless trend that we seem to find ourselves in? Regardless, I am hopeful for a bowl season but will not give up if not. It is after all…a huge "brick by brick" process…..and one year is only part of that foundation.
I wrote about the changes in the 2014 season in an earlier blog, so I will not repeat. Let’s just say that 3 of the 4 non conferences we win though 2 of those three will have to come against bowl winning teams from 2013…Utah State and Arkansas State (at least in Knoxville). The other win is FCS in state foe, UT- Chattanooga. I attended the Chattanooga as a child in 1958 but I should not think it possible in 2014…just reminding. The other is Oklahoma at their place, but that is just a precursor to a great home game in Neyland at some point.
This means that UT may need to win 3 SEC games to become bowl eligible. Look at the schedule and determine where those wins are based on the recent trend. Kentucky. Vanderbilt? (Only without Franklin)…. And one (1) other….Georgia in Athens, Alabama, Ole Miss or South Carolina at their place…Florida? How about Missouri?…the lowly and new SEC school that we haven’t beaten since they joined the SEC.
From my perspective, this 2014 spring practice may be the most important and significant in Vol Football tradition in several (many) years.
· QB: No team likes to enter a season without a defined talented and scripted QB that the team relies upon.
o UT doesn’t have this….yet again…..but it does have a unique compilation of suitors for this glass slipper. In the end, what Vols should hope for…..is an undisputed leader at QB going into the 2014 season and do not be afraid to say it is senior Justin Worley.
· RB: Enough has been said: Marlin Lane needs to play and act likes a senior. After that, we can hope that our talented freshmen can gain confidence without injury and contribute.
· WR: Pig Howard: Must say that I am weary of what seems to be an endless list of "talented" players at key position that experience "personal problems". If Pearson is the real deal, we may be OK, but still no real depth after the 1st team.
· OL: It’s new. Got it. Last year’s was [very] experienced. We still only won 5 games.
· DL: I am thinking Butch has focused on speed from the ends…..we shall see.
· LB: Certainly a talented group with the return of A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt. Add to this an apparent coup in LB talent from the 2014 recruiting talent and this position becomes interesting. I am only reminded of the numerous injuries the Vols seem to suffer at this area.
· DB: Call me crazy….but I think we are OK in this area. I assume Sutton may suffer from the sophomore slump, but I like the experience of McNeil and Randolph at safety. UT’s issue has been speed at the shutdown corner. Surely one will emerge.
· Special teams: I finally really understood that Michael Palardy was fundamentally and technically a better punter than kicker. Do not assume that one can do both with ease and talent. I doubt we get a better or more effective punter in 2014, but hopefully we achieve a better and more effective kicker. Special teams after that are all about athletes. We haven’t had many in the past few years. Maybe this is an area where freshmen glow.