|The Power 'T'|
There is a lot of optimism surrounding the
football team as it begins practice, and it is refreshing to hear. After all,
if a team cannot be optimistic in August, then the season will likely be a
death march without success. So, at least for now, heads are being held high in
the University of Tennessee' football. land of Tennessee
Even though I am trying to be optimistic, I cannot help but think about the state of Volunteer football the last time I saw it. Who can forget? It was last November as the team lost to
for the first
time since 1984. It was an improbable
and sickening loss that cost the Volunteers a bowl berth. Kentucky
Nine months later, we look forward. There are many things to like about the team. It has a ton of experience. The coaching staff has done a good job upgrading the depth of talent. Plus, the schedule is more accommodating compared to last year. I have been thinking long and hard about how this season will shake out. I am doing my best not to be overly optimistic and stay as realistic as possible.
When reviewing the schedule, I feel like it can be divided into three chapters that include four games each. The first four games could provide the springboard to a lot of happiness. The second four games include the meat of the schedule. The final four games could provide momentum for postseason play.
Chapter 1: Aug. 31 vs.
North Carolina State (in Atlanta),
Sept. 8 vs. Georgia State, Sept. 15 vs. Florida,
and Sept. 22 vs. . Akron
Obviously, the two games against
State and are guaranteed wins. If they are not, then this season will be a
disaster of historic proportions. This
leaves the Akron North Carolina State and
games as key swing tilts when it comes to having a successful season. Both are winnable, but like I wrote earlier,
I will not let my optimism get the best of me. Florida
Chapter 2: Sept. 29 at
Georgia, Oct. 13 at Mississippi State,
Oct. 20 vs. Alabama, and Oct. 27 at . South Carolina
Three of the four games in this chapter are on the road, which is bad news for a team that has not had a big SEC road win in years.
will win the SEC Eastern Division again this year because they have a ton of
talent and do not play LSU, Alabama, or again. Who makes their schedule? They will be too much for Arkansas , but the Vols should play them
much closer than we did down there in 2010. Tennessee
Tennessee has a
bye week before a trip to . I am a big believer in bye weeks once October
starts. Much will be riding on this game
as the heat will be on Derek Dooley to get his biggest SEC road win to this
point. The Bulldogs have a history of
crushing blows (remember 1986 and 1994?), but we should be ready for them. This win ups the record to 4-2. Tennessee
After that we visit
. Too much talent for the Gamecocks plus it
is on their field. We end this chapter
of the season with a 4-4 record. South
Chapter 3: Nov. 3 vs.
Troy, Nov. 10 vs. Missouri,
Nov. 17 at Vanderbilt, and Nov. 24 vs. . Kentucky
Well, if you read the headline, then you know I am picking
to win all
four. The win against Tennessee is automatic. The Troy
game will be interesting because of the newness of it. It is hard to believe we have never played
them before, but since it is at home, we will win. Vanderbilt's James Franklin is doing good
things building their program, but I see a Big Orange win. Finally, if there is one game I am going to
attend in person, it is the Missouri
game. I want this one bad. Kentucky
So, we will go 8-4. Many have quoted '8' as the magic number for Derek Dooley to keep his job. I do not know about magic numbers, but I believe he has done a pretty good job cleaning up the mess he was given.
But that is one man's opinion.