Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 Tennessee Volunteers football schedule more inviting than last season

Put simply, the 2011 football season was one to forget for the Tennessee Volunteers. After a promising 3-1 start, the team fell apart in October and November because of key injuries and a difficult schedule. Of course, this does not really explain the disastrous loss to Kentucky to end the season, but I am doing my best to forget that happened.

As the new year begins, let us look at the 2012 football schedule:

Aug. 31 -- vs. North Carolina State (at Atlanta)

Sept. 8 -- vs. Georgia State

Sept. 15 -- vs. Florida

Sept. 22 -- vs. Akron

Sept. 29 -- at Georgia

Oct. 13 -- at Mississippi State

Oct. 20 -- vs. Alabama

Oct. 27 -- at South Carolina

Nov. 3 -- vs. Troy

Nov. 10 -- vs. Missouri

Nov. 17 -- at Vanderbilt

Nov. 24 -- vs. Kentucky

At first glance, the schedule is much more manageable than last year (of course, this point of view could change once the season begins). Gone from last year’s schedule are LSU and Arkansas. Since both teams figure to be ranked in the preseason Top 10 next season, I won't shed any tears about not having to play them. Mississippi State and Missouri replace them in 2012.

The non-conference schedule is similar to last year's slate in that the Volunteers play one pretty good team and three pushovers. The opener against North Carolina State is a key to the season. That last sentence alone is an indication of how far the Tennessee program has fallen in the last 10 years. Back then, a game against a pretty good team from the Atlantic Coast Conference would have seemed right up our alley. Not now, however. After last season's fiasco, a loss in this game will only ramp up the negative mojo. It could be a setback from which the team cannot recover.

For season ticket holders, it is good that both the Florida and Alabama games are at home. Last season's home slate was kind of weak, so at least bigger names are visiting Neyland Stadium in 2012. Of course, in recent years, it has become a lot easier for fans of opposing teams to get tickets to games. Therefore, expect to see a lot of blue and orange and crimson and white at those games.

I will break down the season as we get closer to it. Obviously, this is a critical season for head coach Derek Dooley. People speculate about how many wins he has to get to keep his job, but I do not look at it that way. I need to see substantial improvement from the team. We could win eight games next season, but that would not necessarily mean we are seeing substantial improvement. It is not only who we beat but how we beat them.

Vols fans will be sitting on pins and needles this fall to say the least.


Anonymous said...

I'm seeing 6-6

Chris said...

If that happens, I think there will be big changes in 2013.

Carney said...

Something smells bad about next season. Its time to start winning. No more excuses.

Chris said...

The Vols have fewer excuses heading into 2012. I especially do not want to hear that the Vols are a young team. They are not. Dooley's first recruiting class will be juniors plus we have JUCO transfers sprinkled in.