We are just days away from the much-anticipated season opener in Williams-Brice stadium, so naturally, we here at Rocky Top Talk have to make our record predictions for the Vols’ 2020 season.
How will the Vols fare this year? Let’s dive in and find out.
Clint: The first couple weeks of college football games has taken its toll on my confidence. The lack of a regular preseason is having an obvious effects on preparation and ability to predict how games will play out. There aren’t many certainties heading into 2020.
We still have a decent idea of what the strengths of the team are, as well as their weaknesses. I think Tennessee’s defense will keep them competitive in every game this season. The pass rush will be hit or miss, but the secondary should finally be shored up as long as everyone stays healthy.
Their offense will be magnificent some games, highly questionable in others. I think the offensive line will be good enough to establish a reliable run game, but I simply do not believe Guarantano has it in him to be anything more than serviceable as a passer—even with more time to throw in the pocket.
The schedule is insane but the set-up of the schedule does give Tennessee some breathing room. Before coronavirus hit, I had the Volunteers at 8-4 or 9-3 for 2020. I’ll put them at 6-4 with losses against Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Auburn.
Record Prediction: 6-4
Evan: Make no mistake, the Vols’ 2020 got a lot harder when the SEC decided to move to a conference-only schedule. But as it turns out, Tennessee has one of the better laid-out schedules in the SEC.
The Vols went 5-3 against the SEC in 2019. They were 4-3 against the SEC East. If the Vols want to show that they are still on the right track, then they need to find a way to beat one of their ranked opponents.
I’ve been on record saying this team should finish 6-4 in 2020 if they want to show that they are an ever-improving team. However, I don’t know if the Vols have it in them to beat a ranked opponent with the preseason (or lack thereof) that they’ve had this year.
When you combine that with Tennessee’s uncertainty at the quarterback position, 6-4 just feels like too tall an order for the Vols. But, 5-5 means that there was a win over a ranked opponent somewhere along the way, so finishing .500 this year won’t be a disappointment.
Record Prediction: 5-5
Nick: This is obviously going to be a weird season. Things got harder for the Vols when the schedules got altered — Tennessee exchanged some pretty sure-thing wins for more games against SEC teams. It is what it is, but it changed the outlook of this season.
The offense has a chance to be pretty good, I think, with one of the better offensive lines in the conference and a few returning weapons in RB Eric Gray and WR Josh Palmer. The WR group is young but has the chance to be lively with returning sophomore Ramel Keyton and incoming freshmen Malachi Wideman, Jalin Hyatt and Jimmy Calloway. I hope USC grad-transfer Velus Jones makes an impact and gives the Vols’ signal-caller a reliable target. I’ve buried the lede somewhat here, because we all know it’s a sink-or-swim dynamic, and it rests on the shoulders of the quarterback. Senior Jarrett Guarantano finding some consistency and running away with the job best serves the team, but right now that sounds much easier said than done.
The defense could be the better of the two units — The Vols’ defense allowed less than 16 points per game during the final six games of the year with the good guys going 6-0 in the process. Tennessee finished the season in the NCAA’s top-25 for total defense and return most of those starters even without key playmakers in Daniel Bituli and Darrell Taylor.
The Vols get Bama, A&M and Florida at home, but how much difference does that make in a year with stadiums allowing 25-percent capacity? Tennessee needs wins against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri to get to five wins. Can Tennessee topple one of Georgia, Bama Florida, A&M or Auburn and get to six wins? Right now, I doubt it.
Record Prediction: 5-5
Terry: Thankfully, Tennessee is beyond those year one/year two growing pains under Jeremy Pruitt. I can’t imagine trying to rebuild a program in a year that essentially featured no offseason work. Now entering year three under Pruitt and year two under Derrick Ansley and Jim Chaney, the Volunteers actually may have an advantage with continuity.
Obviously, the season comes down to what Tennessee is able to get out of Jarrett Guarantano. Lucky for him, he gets to lean on an offensive line that may just be the best in the entire SEC. That should take some pressure off of him as this rushing attack take center stage.
Still, how much will that be worth? Tennessee still has to take on Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M. The Vols were in that next tier of teams in the SEC in 2019, can they join that upper tier in 2020? I think they’re close, and they’ll look like an improved football team, but they’re just a tick off of toppling the elite.
Record Prediction: 6-4
What do YOU think the Vols’ final record will be in 2020? Let us know via the poll/comment section below!
The Vols will finish with how many wins in 2020?
This poll is closed
6 or 7
4 or less