It’s no secret that Tennessee football is going through a slew of changes this season. A new offensive coordinator, quarterback, running back along with a new group of defensive leaders. Pair that with games at Alabama and Florida, along with home contests against LSU and Georgia and you’ve got a potentially tough situation on your hands.
No more Joshua Dobbs, Josh Malone, Cameron Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin or Alvin Kamara. It’s a brand new identity at Tennessee with a key year incoming for Butch Jones.
So let’s discuss this — what is going to define a successful 2017 season? Is it a certain record? Is it beating a certain team? Is it simply winning the SEC East?
For me personally, it’s beating who you are supposed to beat — if you do that, you’re getting to eight or nine wins. I’m of the thinking that Tennessee doesn’t have the talent ripe enough to compete this year, so to me simply stabilizing the ship and developing your talent would be a success.
Nine wins for the third straight season wouldn’t be a step forward, but it would keep the arrow at least somewhat pointing up. I think expecting anything more that this is unrealistic, but we’ve been surprised before.
Butch Jones knows what he has to do this year. He’s got to find a way to beat Will Muschamp. He can’t lose to Vanderbilt again. He can’t lose to Kentucky. This is year five of the Butch era — Tennessee really has no excuse at this point not to compete at a high level. I know he was dealt a tough deck after Dooley, but at some point you’ve got to show out.
Nobody is talking about Tennessee, unlike the past two years. Maybe that lowers expectations — maybe that’s the atmosphere Butch’s Vols can excel in.
What do you need to see from Tennessee in 2017 to call their season a success?