Published August 1, 2012 - 12:31pm
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The Tennessee Volunteers enter 2012 with a great deal of promise and a definite need to deliver on it. This make-or-break year for Derek Dooley has the potential to shape up well for the Tennessee faithful who have suffered through several years of mediocre football.
We here at SDS believe that Tennessee has the potential to win some big games in 2012, and we’re not alone. Phil Steele of course named the Vols as one of his most improved teams entering the season.
To say the 2011 season was forgettable is an understatement. It was an atrocious season, but there are some bright spots. First, the schedule was brutal. The Vols played Alabama, LSU and Arkansas all out of the west.
More importantly, they were decimated by injuries. WR Justin Hunter went down early in the Florida game during week 3 and was lost for the season. Hunter racked up 146 and 156 receiving yards in his first two games. After playing Georgia to a 6-6 tie into the half, Bray was injured and the Vols went down. As the Vols hit the brutal stretch of LSU, Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas without their starting quarterback, things got ugly. The overtime win against Vanderbilt was fine, and the loss to Kentucky was a fitting end to a tough year.
This year, the team returns 19 starters. Both the offensive line and defensive line should be improved. While some of the units aren’t the most talented in the conference, they are now experienced and should be much improved from recent years.
Bray and his WR corps should be downright nasty. If they can stay healthy, they should put together big time numbers this year. I think Tennessee goes 8-4 this year with the potential to win a big game for a possible ninth win.
Let’s look at NC State. Friday night, August 31st in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Wolfpack struggled mightily on offense last year. Specifically, they struggled to put together big plays – they had only 36 plays of 20 or more yards (108th in the nation). On defense, they weren’t bad led by corner David Amerson who led the country in interceptions.
Three point line? I think Tennessee has the potential to win by two touchdowns in this game. The Vols got off to a fast start in 2011 before the season deteriorated. Bray will put up some yardage in this game and distribute the ball to his playmaker receivers. The Tennessee defense should be enough to slow down the Wolfpack offense.
While the bottle-gate incident was silly, I don’t expect any lingering consequences. Once the players get into practice, the focus will be on-the-field, and the Vols will be focused to regain the respect of the league. Here’s hoping they make an example out of NC State.
Take the three-point line before it goes up.