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The Idiot Optimist's Guide to the 2015 Season

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Your annual serious preview for the serious fan. Seriously.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

No, see, it's Kool-Aid Light.  Can't taste the difference, can you?

Yeah, my wife wants me to slim down.  She says I'm a public embarrassment, which is an assessment the Knoxville Police Department agreed with when they arrested me on July 1.  My point is this:  I want everyone to know I was really the first fan in line outside of Neyland Stadium for that new Nike gear.  I was there at midnight, ready to spend my hard earned dollars.  But apparently KPD frowned upon me being there while naked, as the good Lord made me.  What was I supposed to do?  Our contract with adidas was up at midnight, and no true VFL would be caught wearing that stuff once we were aligned with the swoosh.  All the clothes I owned were adidas, boys.  I didn't have no choice.

But it's all good now.  We took out a third mortgage on the house in advance so I could buy its cash value in coaches' polos.  When we signed on the dotted line I didn't know they was going to do that One of 119 thing, which means I then took two months off of work and just drove around East Tennessee every day praying.  I thought I heard the Lord telling me one of those boxes would be at the Weigel's in Vonore, but apparently His ways remain mysterious.  But it's okay, I've still got my polos.  I just wish our head football coach would think about us true VFLs when he buttons that top button.  I can't breathe, coach.

It's okay though, because I've already allotted all the Christmas money for officially licensed College Football Playoff gear.  Make no mistake, boys:  this is the year.  And this time, I've got backup.

Joshua Dobbs was born to play quarterback and save the world from asteroids and whatnot.  I believe in a few years, between he and Peyton Manning, one will be our athletic director and one will be President of the United States.  The jobs are equally demanding so I figure they can sort it out amongst themselves with some kind of passing competition.  My wife has removed all the razors from our home, not because she fears me harming myself after all these years of struggle, but because she believes I will shave my eyebrows off.  Gotta give her credit for being one step ahead on that one.  I told her she's getting one percent better every day, but I don't think she took it the way coach meant it.

Jalen Hurd weighs the same as I did when I last thought of myself as being in peak athletic condition, except he can also run realquickfast.  I have spent considerable amounts of time trying to figure out, ten months later, exactly how he got out of this and am left with only, "He's awesome." Then we got that kid from Bama too?  It's like the CobbWebb Attack all over again.  The KamHurd.  The Hurdmara.  The JalenAlvin.  The AlvinJalen.  Whatever.

How many recruiting stars do we have on the roster at wide receiver?  Enough for the NC2A to be jealous and make Preston Williams take that ACT again, trying to burden these boys with academics when all of them are bound to be first round NFL Draft picks.  Dobbs will probably just close his eyes and throw, he's smart enough to pull that off.  Look, the faith of the fanbase already healed Marquez's knee overnight.  We're going undefeated.

I hear people say they're worried about the offensive line, but what did you expect with four Derek Dooley recruits and a defensive tackle last year?  Them boys has been lifting weights in some kind of disco setting, which I don't understand the benefits of but trust our coaches.  Also, if they just make it through fall camp alive after facing our defensive line every day, they can win championships.

Derek Barnett was Kahlil McKenzie before Kahlil McKenzie was Kahlil McKenzie.  And Kahlil McKenzie might be some kind of Reggie White/John Henderson laboratory creation.  My wife says I look stupid in a bucket hat.  Curt Maggitt is back to provide the leadership and take advantage of the quintuple-teams our linemen will all see individually.  So it really doesn't matter who plays linebacker next to Jalen Reeves-Maybin, though my money's still on Bill's boy Dillon.  And it really doesn't matter who plays in the secondary, because ain't no way a quarterback will get a pass off against this rush all year.  It's down, set, hike, (fulmerized).  But just in case they've also got a guy who just closes his eyes and throws, but, you know, without the spaceship flying degree?  We've got probably the best secondary since '98.  It's so good Eric Berry's brother may not start.  But he might return kicks again.  Got that Berry blood in him, that stuff treats cancer like Knowshon Moreno.

Who do we play?  Bowling Green?  We all know it takes seven years to get that Clawson smell out, and they're only in year two.  We beat Oklahoma last year if Derek Dooley signs any offensive linemen in 2012.  And Western Carolina?  That's where that Crompton boy was from, that's a W.

Florida?  New coach, they ain't no good.  Arkansas?  Ain't no way we're losing to a coach named Bert.  Georgia?  We beat them each of the last three years if not for fourth quarter turnovers by Derek Dooley players and recruits, the last and most obvious sign that ol' fancy britches was a saboteur all along.

Alabama?  Only reason they jumped to a 27-0 lead last year is because Kiffin cheated.  They don't want NO PART of Joshua Aldrin Armstrong Dobbs.  Is Kentucky putting Karl-Anthony Towns in a football uniform?  No? W.  South Carolina?  If that (fulmerized) thinks we were doing cartwheels last year, just you by God wait.

North Texas?  Ain't that the team playing Sinbad on the defensive line?  How much eligibility does he have left?  Then it's Missouri, who has clearly used some kind of non-SEC sanctioned witchcraft the last two years.  I won't lie, I'm terrified of any team led by a kid named any form of Matthew Mau(c)k.  (Sidenote:  did you know Matt Mauck is now a dentist?)  But I also think there's some kind of witchcraft-cancelling karma in beating Mauk to get back to the Georgia Dome.

And boys, what a glorious return it will be.  We've got to exorcise the demons before they tear that place down, and this is the year.  Watch out for Chavis and them from Texas, or maybe we'll get another chance for revenge on Will Muschamp.  Either way, we're raising that trophy like it's 1998 and Roy Kramer is in the oval office.

Playoffs, who you want?  Ohio State might have a shot against us if the game is played indoors with no chance of rain, but I bet Nike makes even better cleats 20 years later.  Penn State in the semis would be fun.  But I'm calling it right now:  Tennessee vs Wake Forest for the National Championship, and Joshua Right Stuff Dobbs will add the MVP to his second place finish in the Heisman Trophy.

Man, it's going to be great.  Next year I might swear off Kool-Aid altogether.  But for now, let's raise a glass and drink to Coach Gruden Jones.   15-0, National Champions.  Go Vols.