May 18, 2016
Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones will be under the microscope this year more than at any time during his coaching career.
Every single detail will be scrutinized. If all of his decisions were dissected last season, just imagine how they’ll be taken apart now that he’s got a roster that many early polls around the nation believe can equate to a top-10 program for the Volunteers in 2016.
But obstacles await, and they aren’t just in the forms of the Reptilian Rapscallions who’ve given the Vols so many issues or the Crimson Kings of college football, who also just happen to be UT’s biggest rivals.
There are roster question marks, as well as the puzzle of how the Tennessee players and coaches will react to the national spotlight.
Jones’ recruiting successes will be on full display this season. Not only does he have the leadership of Joshua Dobbs, Cameron Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Alvin Kamara, Jalen Hurd, Derek Barnett and others, but he also has a plethora of talent behind those guys.
Tennessee is loaded, and at a recent Big Orange Caravan stop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jones didn’t shy away from the expectations. But he did note that all the preseason accolades mean little, according to GoVols247’s Wes Rucker:
We’ve worked hard to put ourselves into these conversations, but really they don’t mean anything. Where you’re predicted or your predictions are really based on the performance of last year’s football team—Team 119—and how they finished. Team 120 has not taken one snap yet. We just have to focus on the task at hand.
That task, fair or not, is winning the SEC. As the East division favorites, the Vols won’t sneak up on anybody. They’ve got the roster, they’ve got the fanfare and they’ve added some big-name coaches to the staff. Now, it’s all about following through.
Let’s look at some challenges that will face Jones on the quest to field his best team since arriving in Knoxville.