Talking season is almost over. We’re under two weeks from the Tennessee Volunteers opening against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It’s time to officially go on record and make those surely-to-go-wrong predictions. We’ll do that here at Rocky Top Talk soon, but CBS went on the record yesterday.
Predictably, the analysts at CBS projected Tennessee to finish 3rd or 4th in the SEC East. Three of the seven predicted a 3rd place finish while four of the seven predicted a fourth place finish. That’s a stark contrast from what we saw last year. Maybe that’s a good thing for the Volunteers.
The interesting part of this piece was that Tennessee appeared in both the underrated and overrated sections. First, Jerry Palm thinks the Vols have too many questions to be considered a top 25 team.
This year, the expectations are a little lower, but there are still a lot of questions. Tennessee has to replace quarterback Josh Dobbs and leading receiver Josh Malone; it has already replaced the offensive coordinator. The defense was a huge disappointment a year ago, especially against the run. Not only do the Vols have to fix that, but they have to replace Derek Barnett, their all-time leader in sacks.
Tom Fornelli views Tennessee in another light.
I understand the Vols didn't meet the hype last year, but they got off to an excellent start before injuries began piling up. I also understand that there are plenty of questions surrounding this team entering 2017, but which team in the SEC East can we not say that about? The Vols have just as good a shot at winning the East as everyone else, and they have a better shot than South Carolina.
I could argue for both sides of the aisle here. That’s what the unknown brings us. Tennessee is a mystery in many ways entering the season, we’ll learn soon enough who they are.
I’ll say this though — the SEC East is still wide open. Butch Jones and this team have a nice opportunity to shut everyone up (myself included) this season.