The hype train for Tennessee football hasn’t exactly left the station this offseason. The young Vols are coming off of a 5-7 season as they head into year two of the Jeremy Pruitt era. Question marks remain for this 2019 team — what is Jarrett Guarantano? How quickly will this young offensive line come together? Can the defense take a step forward?
All of that aside, a few metrics believe in the Vols for 2019. ESPN’s FPI placed Tennessee 15th for the 2019 season, while the S&P+ numbers have them 21st. Now another ranking has them top 30.
This early set of power ratings takes into consideration the amount of returning production, the number of returning starters and other key factors (turnovers, close wins/losses, recruiting, etc).
Tennessee returns just about everyone on offense, along with plenty of production on defense. The only area where Tennessee lost multiple starters was the interior defensive line, but guys like Emmitt Gooden and (pending a waiver) Aubrey Solomon should be more than ready to step in and produce.
While a 26th place ranking is exciting, that only ranks 10th in the SEC. Alabama (1), Georgia (3), LSU (4), Florida (8), Auburn (9), Texas A&M (11), Mississippi State (15), Missouri (20) and South Carolina (22) all check in ahead of the Vols in Powers’ rankings. So while it’s undeniable Tennessee is bringing back lots of production, will that production be enough to close the gap with the SEC’s elite teams?
While it’s tough to project that right now in June, Tennessee was able to sneak up on Auburn and Kentucky last year and pick up two top 25 wins in year one of the Pruitt era. If they can do that again this year and lock up wins against more equal opponents like South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Missouri, Tennessee could find themselves at eight wins — just like 247 Sports’ Brad Crawford predicted last week.