The new head man has recruited well and addressed team needs mainly along the offensive line, but that talent needs time to develop. Those young stars won’t be ready for the spotlight this year and that means more growing pains are in store for the Tennessee faithful.
Returning signal caller, Jarrett Guarantano, will need to be smart in the pocket and on the run this season, as depth at quarterback is razor thin. Guarantano has a lot of moxie, so that will be easier said than done. That’s to his credit, as his fearlessness is a virtue. But if Tennessee is going to break through and make it back to a bowl, they will need him on the field. He will have to try and limit how many hits he takes.
The offensive line could have a lot to say about that, but it will require a little baptism under fire that could end up being necessary if junior Trey Smith continues to struggle with the blood clots in his lungs that have plagued him throughout his UT career. If they can find their way up front, the running backs and receivers are talented enough to thrive and Guarantano could come into his own given the time he needs in the pocket.
August 31 vs. Georgia State University
September vs. BYU
September 14 vs. UT Chattanooga
September 21 at Florida
October 5 vs. Georgia
October 12 vs. Mississippi State
October 19 at Alabama
October 26 vs. South Carolina
November 2 vs. UAB
November 9 at Kentucky
November 23 at Missouri
November 30 vs. Vanderbilt
When looking over the D, the secondary is the strength of this unit. They are young, but gained valuable experience last season. The line backing corps is deep and talented and led by returning starters Daniel Bituli and Darrell Taylor, but the defensive line lacks depth and this should be a huge cause for concern for a team that struggled against the run in 2018.
The Vols are rock-solid on special teams where last season’s duo of placekicker Brent Cimaglia and punter Joe Doyle return after standout seasons.
In the end this is a team that is still rebuilding. If the fan base and administration are patient, Pruitt might very well get them back in the conversation when it comes to teams capable of winning the East. With a brutal stretch from late September through October, this does not look like the year that finish comes to fruition.