Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fulmer Tries To Prove Doubters Wrong...Again

SEC East #3 Tennessee Volunteers

2007 Results and Offseason
The Vols were not expected to compete for the East Division Title and especially not after a 39 point loss at Florida. But UT went on a 6-1 streak in the SEC to clinch a berth in Atlanta for the second time in four years. The Vols brought in a small and somewhat disappointing recruiting class in the offseason and lost OC David Cutcliffe .

2007 Record: 10-4, 6-3
Ret. Starters: 14
Ret. Lettermen: 47
Off PPG 30.4 (5th) RYPG 127.6 (8th) PYPG 248.3 (4th)
Def PPG 30.8 (9th) RYPG 146.1 (8th) PYPG 262.5 (12th)

Offense (8 RS 21RL)
Erik Ainge is gone to the NFL leaving the starting QB job to Jonathan Crompton. Crompton had his most extensive action against Arkansas last season. The junior was a highly rated QB out of high school. RB Arian Foster should leave Tennessee as its all time leading rusher after coming off a 1193 yard season last year. He is joined by Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer in the backfield. UT has three very capable TBs. Tennessee arguably will have the best o-line in the SEC with four returning starters who all have shots at All-SEC teams. LG Anthony Paker was 2nd team AA last season. The Vols return their top four pass catchers including leader Lucas Taylor (1000 yards, 73 rec).

Defense (6 RS 22 RL)
UT had an off year on defense finishing last in pass defense in SEC play. The biggest loss will be LB Jerod Mayo whom the Patriots made their first pick in the draft. Rico McCoy will assume the leadership role at LB and he will be joined by two new starters in the LB corps. Two starters must be replaced up front, but returning is senior Robert Ayers who had 8 TFL last season and Dan Williams with 40 tackles at DT. The future of the secondary looks bright with SS Eric Berry. Berry had 5 INT in his true freshman season to lead the Vols. Brett Vinson is the best CB on the team and the Vols expect Demetrice Morley back as well.

Special Teams
The Vols return both specialists after the first five games of the year. P Britton Colquitt is suspended for the first five. Jonathan Hefney and LaMarcus Coker are gone as kick returners so expect to see Dennis Rogan handling both.

Recruiting - Link

Non conf includes @UCLA, vUAB, vN.Ill, and vWyoming. From the West they tackle vAlab, vMiss St, and @Auburn. After a bye on Sept 6 the Vols play eight straight. UT holds the longest winning streak in the nation over Kentucky at 23.

Final Thoughts
Tennessee is the Rodney Dangerfield of the SEC. They had a blip on the radar a few years ago missing out on a bowl, but they continually compete for East title when no expects them to. I do think Florida and Georgia are a head above this year, but don't count UT out if a big time player goes down for UF or UGA.

Likely Wins: vUAB,vN.Ill,vWyoming, vVandy
Likely Loss: @Auburn
9-3, 5-3

Next Up - SEC West #2

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