College Football 2014 Preview – Tennessee Volunteers

Coming off their third straight 5-7 season, the Tennessee Volunteers look to break that trend and qualify for a bowl this year.  And while the Vols only return ten starters, second year coach Butch Jones has an abundance of young talent.

http://www.nooga.com/assets/bfe79b7ca00c445a56fda95740e2a39039553.jpg

Coming off their third straight 5-7 season, the Tennessee Volunteers look to break that trend and qualify for a bowl this year.  And while the Vols only return ten starters, second year coach Butch Jones has an abundance of young talent.

After securing a top 5 recruiting class for the 2014 cycle, the coaching staff is counting on the new players to make an immediate impact.  More importantly, the returning players to be much improved.

The Vols defense will be anchored by A.J. Johnson, who logged over 100 tackles last year (8.5 tackles for loss) and was named first-team preseason All-SEC.  Johnson will team up with junior Curt Maggitt to lead the linebackers.  Highly touted recruit Dillon Bates, son of former Vol and Dallas Cowboy Bill Bates, also could make an early impact at the position.

Tennessee’s front four is extremely young and inexperienced, but the staff hopes an experienced secondary that returns six impact players will make up for the defensive line’s growing pains.  Safety Brian Randolph headlines the Vols’ defensive backfield.

As for offense, the Vols will be loaded at the wide receiver and running back positions.  Impact receivers Marquez North and Jason Croom are joined by five-star recruit Josh Malone.  At running back, the Vols will look to five-star Jalen Hurd for immediate production.  Senior Marlin Lane will also get carries.

Tennessee replaces its entire offensive line, including tackle Ja’Wuan James, a first round pick.  Luckily, the Vols recruited very well at the position.  They hope the young group will mesh early.

Along with the offensive and defensive lines, quarterback is the biggest question mark.  Can Justin Worley be the guy?  Or will Joshua Dobbs steal the job?  Worley is the favorite, but he’s mistake prone.  Dobbs is also more mobile, a valuable quality given the young offensive line.

The Vols’ schedule will naturally experience the SEC gauntlet.  But the difficulty begins with an early road trip to face off against Oklahoma in a non-conference game.  They also have tough conference games at Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina.  Florida, Alabama and Missouri are among the teams visiting Knoxville.

Tennessee is a long shot to win the national championship, at 150-1.  The Vols currently stand at 40-1 to win the SEC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *