Hello, friends (Jim Nantz voice) and welcome back college football, you beautiful monster. Over the next three months we will experience heartache, envy, love, hatred, spite and all of the other fun emotions that we typically keep bottled deep into our subconscious. College football is therapy for the soul, whether your team goes 15-0 or tries to hire Greg Schiano.
Speaking of which, if you haven’t yet, make sure you pick up a copy of “Decade of Dysfunction,” now with an added chapter on Tennessee’s 2018 season.
Tell a friend. Like Latrell Sprewell, I have a family to feed.
Before we get started, if you are looking for in-depth analysis of the Vols depth chart, look elsewhere. I’m not smart enough, nor knowledgeable enough to tell you the right choice at backup quarterback. But hopefully it’ll be an entertaining read while you pretend to work at your desk.
It’s the opening week of the 2019 season and Tennessee is hosting a team that plays its games in a converted baseball stadium, which had been converted from an Olympic stadium. During their first seven seasons, the Georgia State Panthers played their games at the Georgia Dome, which has since been imploded because a 25 year old stadium that cost $214 million to build simply isn’t good enough in this day and age.
Yes… welcome to Atlanta where the players play…
This football team has only been in existence since 2010, and boast an all-time record of 29-77 according to Wikipedia, and you know as well as I do that Wikipedia is never wrong so we’ll just go with that. Georgia State went 2-10 last season in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Tennessee game is a paycheck game with Georgia State, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it would be nice if some of that paycheck went to the players, I mean “student-athletes,” but hey, it’s 2019 and that’s crazy talk. Maybe when the aliens take over and are running college football the kids will get paid for breaking their bodies.
(Gets off soap box, kicks soap box)
Georgia State brings back Dan Ellington for his senior season at quarterback. He picked up a combined 2744 yards passing and rushing last season. He’s not bad and has a couple of fellow seniors on the offensive line, but this should be a game in which Ellington is under pressure early and often. If he isn’t, that’s a bad sign for the Vols defensive line, which already is missing a key cog due to Emmit Gooden’s torn ACL. It was yet another devastating blow at a position of need for Tennessee. The good news is that Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon was finally ruled eligible this week by the NCAA, so he will be called upon early to play significant snaps.
This week we learned that we have been mispronouncing Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s name for years. If you see him at Kroger and want to say hi, his name is actually pronounced “Gare-en-TAN-o.” TAN, not TAHN. Better yet, if you see him at Kroger, just leave him alone.
More important than how to say his name are the efforts to keep Guarantano upright. Tennessee’s offensive line did him no favors in 2018, right from the opening snap of the season when he was knocked into the turf in Charlotte thanks to a blown assignment. With BYU on deck, the Vols would love to get this game secured in the first half and allow Guarantano to walk under his own power to the sideline. He could have a freeze pop and watch the rest of the game on Saturday without big and mean “student-athletes” trying to cripple him.
Tennessee’s offensive line is young and could start two freshmen at the tackle positions (Wayna Morris at LT, Darnell Wright at RT). How soon those guys progress will go a long way towards the Vols bowl hopes in 2019.
If the offensive line performs well and gives Guarantano time in the pocket, Georgia State’s secondary won’t have any answers for the Vols wide receiving corps. Marquez Callaway, Jauan Jennings and Josh Palmer make up one of the top trios in the SEC. Running back Ty Chandler could get a lot of room to run as well against the Panthers.
This is a rematch of a 2012 meeting, which saw Tennessee the victor 51-13 in what was a tremendous offensive season for the Vols. Unfortunately they were Sunseri’d and allowed approximately 134 points per game on defense that year.
This 2019 matchup between the Vols and the Panthers should produce similar results. It won’t be close.
Yes, good seats still available at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. Bring the kids! Beer sales don’t start until next week!
Fearless Prediction time…
Tennessee 42, Georgia State 10
(Mark Nagi’s 2019 Fearless Prediction record: 0-0)