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Rocky Top Talk Roundtable: Predictions for the 2018 season

What will be Jeremy Pruitt’s record in his first season as head coach?

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day
Pruitt and the Vols have a long way to go in 2018
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The first roundtable discussion of the 2018 football season is here. Just like season’s past, we will discuss how we think the season will turn out and what the final win total will be in Knoxville.

Without further delay, let’s dive in.

What will be Tennessee’s final record in 2018?

Austin: 7-5

The run of three top-ten teams in a row, two of which are on the road, is just brutal. But,outside of Georgia, Auburn, and Alabama I truly believe these Vols are talented enough and well-coached enough to play with anyone on the schedule.

Now, I anticipate there will still be some significant bumps in the road. This will largely be a function of both quality depth and ability to master the new offensive and defensive systems. A few bad breaks here or there could lead to the Vols dropping some close ones.

Tennessee is a team that will get better as the weeks go on, and if they are relatively healthy for the South Carolina game there is definitely upset potential. This record, and a bowl win, in year one of a new coach following the worst season in Tennessee history is something all Vols fans can be encouraged about.

Conner: 6-6

Though coming off a 4-8 season, Tennessee has talent. Not to mention the fact that Vols very easily could have been 7-5 last season with any modicum of coaching.

I think Tennessee finds a way to get to a bowl game this year. I could even see the Vols getting to seven wins, as several of my co-staffers have predicted.

If Jeremy Pruitt is worth anything on the sideline, this Tennessee team could be the surprise of the SEC.

Evan: 7-5

6-6 seems most likely, but like a certain, famous spy - I like to live dangerously.

Spoiler Alert: I think the Vols take down West Virginia this weekend. Like Terry said, this team has more talent than people realize. The problem last year was the coaching staff.

Pruitt and his crew will have this team ready on a weekly basis and I believe they improve enough throughout the season to compete with most teams they play against.

As always, the mid season stretch of games will define this season. The Vols’ best shot for a win is Florida - but we all know how that game could go either way.

Regardless, the Vols finish with a winning record in Pruitt’s first season, keeping the momentum rolling into 2019.

Noah: 7-5

This record could easily be better than 7 wins and it could easily be worse. I’m going with could be better by the end of the season. I think they have a legitimate opportunity to get a win in Charlotte this Saturday and kick the Pruitt era off with a huge upset win in week one.
While ETSU, UTEP and Charlotte are the three I’d circle as a ‘sure thing,’ I also like Tennessee’s chances in conference play too. If they manage to slow down West Virginia’s passing attack, who’s to say they can’t stop Drew Lock and Missouri later this season? Other SEC games I think the Vols have a decent shot in are Florida and Kentucky. They get both at home and while I think Dan Mullen and Florida will also improve upon their 4-win season in 2017, Tennessee catches them at the perfect time when they may not have their own QB situation fixed. Add in a win against Vanderbilt and I could see the Vols winning at least four SEC games in 2018 after going 0-8 in the league in 2017.

That stretch of going Between the Hedges to face Georgia, then to the Plains to take on Auburn and then hosting Alabama to close it out is going to be daunting and I don’t see a scenario where Tennessee leaves that three-game slate unscathed.

Still, 7 wins is manageable and at this point I have the Vols in the Music City Bowl versus Northwestern to close out what could be a very successful campaign.

Terry: 7-5

I think this team is more talented than people realize. Last year’s team should never have ended up at 4-8. I’m of the thinking that they were handicapped by a clueless coaching staff — fixing that alone will be worth a couple in the win column.

Furthermore, Pruitt and his staff have already done a nice job flipping this roster and plugging holes. 11 new faces appeared on the two-deep depth chart. The offensive line appears to be in good shape and the Vols aren’t short on weapons. This team’s fate will be determined by Pruitt’s year one defense, which will feature some misfit players for what he wants to accomplish.

ETSU, Charlotte and UTEP are the gimme wins, but there’s no reason to think Tennessee can’t handle Vanderbilt and Kentucky. I think they’ll have decent shots to beat Florida, South Carolina, Missouri and West Virginia as well. Stealing two of those games would get them to seven wins — and the Pruitt era would be off and running.


How many games will the Vols win in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    (27 votes)
  • 58%
    (318 votes)
  • 30%
    (164 votes)
  • 6%
    4 or less
    (34 votes)
543 votes total Vote Now