May 9, 2016
This could be a special season on Rocky Top for the Tennessee football team.
Not only do the Volunteers have a slew of talent, but they also have several players who’ve held key roles on the team since they stepped foot on campus and more depth than they’ve had in a decade, making this year’s schedule finally manageable.
That’s not to say there aren’t pitfalls. Those will always exist in the SEC. But that won’t dampen the excitement, which Knoxville News Sentinel columnist John Adams says may match 1998’s.
The Vols should not only win the SEC East. They seemingly have enough talent and experience to challenge for greater championships. The most optimistic fan’s excitement is approaching the 1998 level. That’s when the Vols last won the SEC title. It’s also when they went undefeated while winning the national championship. So a comparison is in order—as long as you make it for preseason only.
He goes on to say nobody was talking about national championships that year, either. Yet, the Vols went on to win one. While few are talking about the possibility of UT going all the way, it isn’t out of the question for the first time since the early 2000s.
Championship ingredients are in place, and the hiring of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop along with the return of stars Cameron Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Alvin Kamara only enhance that.
But to have the opportunity to do great things, the Vols must accomplish some goals they haven’t achieved in a long, long time, beginning with beating rivals Florida and Alabama.
Those are just two of the obstacles standing between the Vols and taking another tangible step forward after last year’s 9-4 season culminated with a domination of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. So, just how far can the Vols go?
The guess here is a 10-2 regular season with a trip to Atlanta. But where will those setbacks come from, and can the Vols get over the two biggest humps they have as a program?
Let’s take a way-too-early look at a game-by-game prediction for UT’s 2016 season.