The Tennessee Volunteers have flirted with bowl eligibility the last two years, but could only notch just 5 wins in each season. This year they have just 10 starters back but also have landed the 8th best recruiting class in the nation, which should help them break through to bowl eligibility. Preview & Schedule are below.
The Volunteers were very average last year as they put up just 23.8 ppg, and even though they have just 5 starters back they still look like an improved group. QB Justin Worley is back after throwing for 1239 yards and 10 TDs last year, but he also did have 8 INTs and completed just 55.6% of his passes. He should be improved with another year under his belt. He does have the top 5 pass catchers back from last year, plus have added a #4 Juco recruit in Von Pearson and a #5 Prep recruit in Josh Malone, who are both expected to start right away. The running game loses 1000 yard back Rajion Neal, but SR Martin Lane returns after rushing for 534 yards and 4 TDs last year, plus they have added a #7 prep recruit (Jalen Hurd) and a #17 true freshman (Derrell Scott). The weak part of this offense is a line that rates as the worst in the SEC with 0 starters returning and just 1 highly touted recruit coming in. The defense is loaded… but we will see better results next year a think. Even though they have just 5 starters back, they have 5 of their top 6 tacklers back and have added 8 recruits that are rated 42 nd or better at their respective positions. The secondary is the strength of this defense and is one of the better in the league with all 4 starters back, including Brian Randolph, who had 3 PBUs and 4 INTs last year. AJ Johnson is the lone returning starter in the front 7, after leading the team in tackles last year with 106, while also racking up 8.5 TFL and 3 Bus last year. The front 7 will struggle at the outset but will improve greatly as the season goes on.
The Volunteer have missed the post season the last two year, but I see them breaking through this year. The offense will be much better with improved QB play and a plethora of highly touted skill players. The OL line does need some help, but overall they should easily put up more than the 23.8 ppg they averaged last year. The defense allowed 29 ppg last year, but with highly touted players all over this side of the ball and one of the better secondarys in the league they should be a much better group. They have tough road games vs Ole Miss, Georgia and South Carolina on the road, plus Alabama and Florida at home but also get Missouri, Kentucky and have an easy road game vs Vanderbilt. At least 7 wins and a move up in the standings for the Vols this year. KEY TREND: 10-2 ATS last 12 home games vs Kentucky
2014 Tennessee Football Schedule
Aug. 30 Utah State
Sep. 6 Arkansas St
Sep. 13 at Oklahoma
Sep. 20 OPEN DATE
Sep. 27 at Georgia
Oct. 4 Florida
Oct. 11 Chattanooga
Oct. 18 at Ole Miss
Oct. 25 Alabama
Nov. 1 at South Carolina
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 15 Kentucky
Nov. 22 Missouri
Nov. 29 at Vanderbilt
Info gathered From Phil Steele's CFB Preview and Athlon Sports
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