Cory Sanning, Sports Editor
Coming off of a disappointing season in which it failed to reach bowl game eligibility, Tennessee heads into 2019 with a sense of continuity and familiarity it did not have in year one under Jeremy Pruitt. They won’t experience those same struggles this season.
The Vols will rattle off a quick 3-0 start after dispatching Georgia State, BYU and UT-Chattanooga in Knoxville before being handed consecutive losses at the hands of Florida and Georgia. They’ll beat Mississippi State at home before being bludgeoned in Tuscaloosa by the Crimson Tide.
Returning home, Tennessee will overcome South Carolina and UAB before getting handed some payback at Kroger Field courtesy of the Kentucky Wildcats.
That leads them to Columbia, Missouri where the Vols will fall to the Tigers for a third straight season before returning home to dispatch Vanderbilt, finishing off the regular season with a 7-5 record and bowl game appearance for the first time under Pruitt.
Noah Taylor, Sports Editor
A year ago, Tennessee had to break in first-time head coach Jeremy Pruitt against West Virginia and their high-powered offense at a neutral site.
A few weeks later, the Vols embarked on a brutal stretch that included Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. They went 1-3 in that span, getting a program-building win at then-No. 21 Auburn. Later in the season they even beat a top-15 Kentucky team at home, but a frustrating conclusion to the season ended with blowout losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt.
Do those games have any bearing on this, Jeremy Pruitt’s second season? Of course not.
The Vols’ schedule, while still one of the toughest in the conference, sets up a little more favorably with three non-conference games at home against Georgia State, BYU and Chattanooga before they jump into another tough SEC slate.
I have Tennessee winning the games they should, which gets them to five.
I think the task of going to Florida then getting Georgia and Alabama in a matter of weeks will be too tough of a stretch, but I have the Vols beating Mississippi State in week six. I think Tennessee will split games against Kentucky and South Carolina and will beat Vanderbilt to conclude the season, effectively giving them a 7-5 regular season record with a trip to a bowl game.
Of course, it all comes down to beating the teams they should beat.
Ryan Schumpert, Staff Writer
Despite coming off a 5-6 season, hopes are high for the 2019 Tennessee football team.
Jeremy Pruitt has greatly improved his staff with coaches like Tee Martin, Derrick Ansley and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. Expectations are high for Tennessee’s freshman class, as up to nine freshman could see significant snaps in the opener.
However, Tennessee is still weak on both lines of scrimmage. The offensive line will rely on two freshman tackles, but if they can hold up Tennessee’s offense, they could be one of the most improved in the nation.
Tennessee’s schedule lightens up in 2019 with a home out of conference game against BYU in addition to drawing Mississippi State at home out of the SEC West.
While Florida, Georgia and Alabama are still likely losses, picking up wins against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Mississippi State would be a major step in the right direction for this program.
In the end, I think this team goes 7-5 with wins over the four out of conference opponents South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.