Tennessee football: 10 bold predictions for the 2019 season
Ready for the toughest question concerning Tennessee’s football team this season? Here it is.
If you had to pick, will the Vols win 5 games or 8 games this season? Forget about 6 or 7 victories. That’s too easy. Eliminating the obvious win-total predictions makes things much more difficult. Here, you’ll see where I stand on that issue with reasons the Vols might be a surprising team this season.
Here are 10 bold predictions for Tennessee’s 2019 season:
No. 10: Jarrett Guarantano will be the 3rd-best quarterback in the SEC
This might seem like a way too bold prediction considering the amount of talented, but not proven quarterbacks, in the SEC. Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Florida’s Feleipe Franks and LSU’s Joe Burrow are worth considering for No. 3 honors behind some guys named Tua and Fromm. However, I think Guarantano will flourish under offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who does an amazing job of maximizing a quarterback’s strengths.
No. 9: Darrell Taylor will be a huge boom or bust
There is no in-between. Taylor either realizes he can make a lot of cash with a big senior season or he simply has a lack of desire to do so. His up-and-down performance last season reeks of a bad motor? Can he overcome that?
No. 8: Henry To-oto’o will be one of UT’s best defenders
The hype is real for the 5-star linebacker. Don’t be surprised if he’s a starter in September.
No. 7: Eric Gray will be UT’s most explosive offensive player
Gray has drawn some comparisons to former Vol and current NFL star running back Alvin Kamara. That’s probably a bit much, but look for Gray to lead UT in yards per touch.
No. 6: UT’s toughest nonconference game will be against UAB
Sorry BYU, but UAB will provide the most difficult nonconference test for the Vols for a couple of reasons. First, UT will be in the middle of its conference schedule when it plays UAB. That means the Vols will be battered and more likely to overlook a non-Power 5 team. Second, UAB will have an explosive offense.
No. 5: Tennessee‘s secondary will be good, but not statistically
The Vols have talent in their defensive backfield. Look for that to show up in key situations. However, UT’s defensive backs will be asked to cover receivers for far too long because the Vols will lack the ability to get pressure on the opposing quarterback. They’ll bend but won’t break.
No. 4: The Vols will beat Vanderbilt
Remember when this was a given? After 3 losses in a row, the Vols will actually sink the Commodores, I think.
No. 3: Tennessee fans will feel much more confident in Jeremy Pruitt
Why? See below.
No. 2: Tennessee will finish 3rd in the SEC East
Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky will have something to say about this. However, I’m not sold on Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant or the fact that the Tigers’ postseason ban won’t affect team morale. I think South Carolina is on the verge of a collapse because of an incredibly difficult schedule. I also think Kentucky has lost too many players from last year’s team to match its past success.
No. 1: The Vols will win 8 games
The schedule is much less challenging than last year. The Vols are improving. I challenged myself to pick between 5 and 8 wins. I’ll go 8-4 and a nice bowl trip.