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RTT Staff: 2019 Regular Season Record Predictions

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Here’s what your favorite Tennessee site thinks is going to happen...

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 17 Missouri at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The sunken blue of the dawn sky, the frosting tips of green lawns, the piercing brightness of the orange jerseys, the cackling sizzle of the grill...you’ve made it. It’s football time in Tennessee.

Tennessee is in an uneasy position. Nobody seriously expects the Volunteers to be heavyweights in year 2 of the Jeremy Pruitt era, even if they did pull off a couple of impressive wins in 2018 and brought in a surprisingly good recruiting class. But fans absolutely expect improvement from a 5-7 record. For what it’s worth, Pruitt seems very committed to immediate improvement, going so far as to hire an entirely new offensive coordinator after one season.

How much difference will all these changes make? It’s time to put that to the test. We here at Rocky Top Talk have provided you with previews of every facet of the team for the upcoming season. If you need any information, that link will be indispensable for 2019.

Now, we provide our season record predictions, along with the contests we think go in Tennessee’s favor. Unsurprisingly, most of us center around the same record—but there’s a reason for that. Read on.

Terry Lambert

Record: 7-5

Wins: Georgia State, BYU, Chattanooga, South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

November will tell the tale for Tennessee, as it has in recent years. The non-conference slate seems pretty cut and dry, although we could see some nervous moments against BYU. Georgia, Florida and Alabama seem out of reach for now. That leaves Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt as the five swing games. Is Tennessee capable of winning each of those? Probably. Will they? Probably not. I’m going to bet they get three of those five though to get to seven wins.

Evan Winter

Record: 6-6

Wins: Georgia State, Chattanooga, South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

The Vols have one of their easiest schedules in recent memory. Coming into the season, only three opponents are ranked. The only problem is that all three teams are ranked in the top-10 (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama).

It’s going to be really, really tough to topple those guys, especially when you consider the fact that the Florida and Alabama games are on the road. The Vols will certainly improve their play on the field this year, but I don’t think it’s nearly enough to win those games.

There are too many questions up front on both sides of the ball. This team will need multiple players to step up if they want to have sustained success in 2019. The potential additions of Trey Smith and Aubrey Solomon would help this situation, but their availability isn’t looking so good right now. Therefore, I’m going worst-case scenario and assuming they won’t play this year.

I do think the Vols win one more SEC game this year, and that’s with a win over Vanderbilt. In all honesty, a 6-6 record, a bowl game, and a win over Vanderbilt would be major steps toward getting this program back on track.

Austin Burlage

Record: 6-6

Wins: Georgia State, Chattanooga, South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

Tennessee is a much better program right now than they were one year ago at this time. The players have bought into Coach Pruitt’s philosophy, and the work put in over the summer seems to have translated into improved size heading into the 2019 season. In addition, the schedule sets up nicely for the first time in what feels like decades — no triple option systems, and no Top-5 non-conference opponents with future Heisman winners. Unfortunately, there are still major question marks for the Vols, particularly on the lines of scrimmage. The loss of sure-starter Emmit Gooden is a huge hit on the defensive line. Aubrey Solomon has still not received eligibility — at the time of this writing, at least. Will Trey Smith take a major risk to play football again, and if so, will he return to his previous level of skill? Will the Vols start two talented freshman at both offensive tackles, and will they be able to handle the rigor of SEC competition week-after-week?

The Vols are improved, there is no doubt about it. In my opinion, depth across the lines may limit the team from a higher ceiling. However, Tennessee is good enough to make a bowl game this year. Along with a bowl invitation comes valuable additional practice sessions to develop the team, and take the next step in 2020.

Noah Taylor

Record: 8-4

Wins: Georgia State, BYU, Chattanooga, Miss. State, South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

Maybe I’m a little too high on the Vols this season, but I like the optimism surrounding the program, especially coming from Jeremy Pruitt. I don’t think he’s just paying lip service to it.

Pruitt has been clear that there is areas that still need a lot of work, due mainly to a lack of experience at many key positions, and while I like this Tennessee schedule compared to ones of the past, there is still a brutal stretch that includes preseason top 10 teams Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Throw games against BYU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Missouri into that equation and it is still one of the tougher schedules in the SEC. I think the Vols win the games they should, which puts them at five wins and after being able to pull off wins at Auburn and versus Kentucky in 2018, I think toppling Mississippi State in Knoxville on Oct. 12 is a real possibility, as well as getting wins against Kentucky and South Carolina.

This projection could change after the first couple of weeks, of course, but I think the Vols are back in a bowl game in 2019.

Clint Eiland

Record: 7-5

Wins: Georgia State, BYU, Chattanooga, South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

Originally I pegged the Volunteers as going 8-4. But trying to rebuild a team in the SEC is a 4-year undertaking, especially when the previous staff more or less burned it all down on their way out. Making it tougher is the fact that Tennessee’s schedule might be the most difficult of any conference team not named Texas A&M.

All that being said; I expect massive improvement on the defensive side of the ball thanks to an influx of talent, and noticeable improvement on the offensive side of the ball with a more proven coordinator and less catastrophic offensive line. It’ll be enough to bump up the win totals and maintain momentum on the recruiting trail. Years 3 and 4 are still where I expect greater things. For now, Tennessee needs to focus on making a bowl and giving this fanbase confidence that this coaching staff is executing their plan.