Tis the season for predictions about the fate of the University of Tennessee football team during the 2018 season.
The media experts have rolled out their predictions for Tennessee and the SEC as a whole. Needless to say, the predictions for success are less than optimistic. Tennessee has been selected to finish 6th in the SEC East, beating out only Vanderbilt in the division projections.
Too many question marks — both on offense at quarterback and on defense at cornerback and up front on the line, the pundits state. Then there’s new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who brings an entirely new approach to the program. How quickly can he turn the culture around? Will the players continue to buy in if the wins don’t come?
While speculating about the fortunes of a football team prior to one practice and its coach, can make for some interesting water cooler debates at the office, they really don’t mean much.
A season opener against a strong West Virginia team and quarterback may give some indication how far the Vols will come, but you seldom see the same team you see at mid-season after the opener.
After what should be some relatively uneventful non-conference games in September, fans will probably be able to measure the Vols’ performance in a stretch against Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina. Only the ‘Bama game is a home contest.
That being said, there aren’t any easy conference games in the SEC. Even Kentucky, and Vanderbilt will present a test.
The facts are that nobody knows what the Vols will look like or how Pruitt will manage the team this year. There are a lot of questions to be answered but they aren’t about wins, losses or bowl games — at least for now.
Will this team be tougher, more physical, than in previous years? Will the team be motivated by the less than optimistic predictions for their season? Can the Vols show consistent play and not beat themselves with penalties and turnovers? How will Pruitt and his staff react to adversity and losses?
The important question may be, what kind of example will this team be for rebuilding a winning program?