The Tennessee Volunteers’ narrative for the 2017 season is a little different than the one from a year ago. The summer of 2016 was filled with the hype of the Volunteer football team. They were the clear favorite to win the SEC East and with wins over Georgia as well as Florida, one would expect them to finally win the East. However, after a three game losing streak including losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt, Tennessee fell short once again to finish to a disappointing (9-4) season. With Tennessee losing many of their key veterans, they hope to find the next great stars to fill the void as well as keep Tennessee among the leaders of the SEC East.
With almost all of the key players gone from the highly successful Tennessee offense, they look for new blood to keep it one of the best in the East. Even though both Dobbs and Hurd are gone, Butch Jones hopes that with a veteran offensive line, he will be able to help grow his inexperienced offense. A top choice to replace Dobbs is junior, Quinten Dormady, but due to him being a prototypical quarterback instead of a dual-threat like everyone around the program has been used to, it could take a while for him to get comfortable in the system. However, there is a lot of hype around redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, who fits the mold of Josh Dobbs and most fans are saying, could be the next great quarterback. Either way, Tennessee has two solid options to build their program around for the next few years, making for an interesting 2017 season.
The Volunteer’s schedule is always one of the toughest among the SEC, but this year appears to put them arguably with the toughest schedule. With 4 games against the top 4 teams in the SEC going into 2017(Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU), the Volunteers will struggle to accomplish their same record from a year ago. In addition to this, Tennessee opens the year against Georgia Tech, making the quarterback battle even more interesting where both will most likely share snaps. However, with the normal cupcake games mixed in their season, Butch Jones will most likely find a starter early on in the year.
The Volunteers’ narrative is almost a complete 180 from last season. Instead of favorites to win the East, Tennessee is hoping to remain atop the East as well as compete with Georgia and Florida. With many bright young hopefuls to fill the major voids from last year, Tennessee fans hope they can showcase their talents and maybe even make some big upsets come this fall. Although Tennessee does not expect what they did last year, they hope to keep their team from sliding into mediocrity among the SEC East.