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Monday Musings: Time for a big change

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports


Which means it’s time to grab the paint ball guns, put on the goggles, and start splattering everyone with the orange and white pellets of thought rolling around inside my noggin.

1) That went just as expected on Saturday. Except perhaps I thought UT would have made it more of a game than it was by the end of the third quarter. Aside from that - and, of course, Jaylen Wright going 75 freaking yards on the first play of the game - it’s not all that surprising. Georgia is just way, way, way too good everywhere. Tennessee has a depressingly long way to go to catch up to them roster wise.

There’s no point in revisiting that game. You all saw it. I doubt you need to relive it.

2) I’m going to join my colleague Terry’s position from this morning and say that Nico Iamaleava needs to be handed the keys to the offense on Saturday against Vanderbilt. It absolutely matters to get in-game reps. Simply being able to get extended reps in live game situation and build up timing and cohesion with your skill position players and linemen is invaluable.

If they want to let Joe get a couple of early drives and a score and give him a sendoff on Senior Day, then I’m fine with it. But sights are firmly set on 2024 now, and the best way to prepare for it is to give the engine that’s going to drive that truck some work.

It’s not about a lack of loyalty. It’s not going to cause negative recruiting. Tennessee gave Joe Milton a fair shot, but he couldn’t deliver when the Vols needed him to in the season’s biggest games, outside of the first half against Alabama. It’s about what is best for the Tennessee football program now, and that’s turning to its future on Saturday.

3) Lots of recent bowl projections show the Vols in the Gator Bowl against a school from the state of North Carolina. Most of them have UNC. That would be a very fun trip and matchup. I like Jacksonville, and it’d be a chance to take on a shoo-in for one of the top three picks in the 2024 NFL Draft in Drake Maye. And it might not be the Vols’ only Florida bowl option, as three Florida-based bowl representatives were at the Georgia game on Saturday, per 247 Sports. Any bowl in Florida would be a good consolation prize, given how the last couple of weeks have gone.

4) The Maui Invitational is tipping off right now, and it’s an opportunity for the Vols to claim the most prestigious preseason tournament that’s seemingly as good as it’s ever been. 5 of the top 11 teams in the current AP poll are in the field. The Vols’ path to a title could potentially include wins over Syracuse, Purdue or Gonzaga, and Kansas or UCLA. That’s a really daunting stretch, and whoever wins the tournament will have the biggest of nonconference chips to play whenever Selection Sunday rolls around.

Hopefully that’s the Vols. We’ll find out starting now.