SEC Football Q&A: What's the Outlook for the Tennessee Volunteers in 2013?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMarch 21, 2013

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones
Tennessee head coach Butch JonesRandy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports


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You've got SEC questions, and I've got SEC answers. Thank you, everybody, for your questions this week. And if I didn't get to them this week, they are still saved and will be used in the future.



And we're off:

@barrettsallee its ok. How about. A look ahead for the vols in football 2013

— ShawnBurkhead (@scburkhead) March 21, 2013

Year No. 1 for Butch Jones is going to be tough for a variety of reasons.

Personnel turnover is a major issue on offense with quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter out the door. The silver lining for Jones and the Vols is that four starters return along the offensive line and virtually the entire rushing attack will remain unchanged through the offseason.

In other words, the quarterback—whether that be Justin Worley or Nathan Peterman—has something to fall back on.

Defensively, it can't get much worse, right? RIGHT?!?!?!

The Vols were 130.8 yards per game worse in 2012 than they were in 2011. They may not return to form in 2013, but they'll show progress.

Switching to the 3-4 under former defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri was a disaster last season; and the move back to the 4-3 this season will benefit guys like defensive lineman Maurice Couch, defensive end Jacques Smith and safety-turned-linebacker Brent Brewer.

The problem really is the schedule. The stretch from Sept. 14 through the end of October that sends the Vols to Oregon, Florida and Alabama, with home games versus Georgia and South Carolina mixed in between, is almost too tough to overcome. 

It won't be an immediate turnaround on Rocky Top, but a bowl game isn't out of the question. That should be good enough in Year 1.



@barrettsallee Which new assistant coach will have the biggest impact in 2013? (assistants that came in with new head coaches don't count)

— Doug Keegan (@doug_keegan) March 21, 2013

This is probably going to come as a shock considering this guy is a lightning rod for criticism, but it's LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron...and it isn't even close.

Say what you will about Cameron, but don't leave out two important points: He has a track record of developing quality quarterbacks and is a tremendous upgrade from his predecessor Greg Studrawa.

Plus, look at the weapons he has at his disposal.

I know, I know, quarterback Zach Mettenberger is awful (says the Internet). But in reality, he's not. He threw from more than 215 yards in each of his final four regular-season games, one of which was against eventual national champion Alabama.

He is going to have his top four wide receivers returning, four contributors back on an offensive line that got better as last season progressed, and a three-headed monster at running back led by sophomore Jeremy Hill.

Cameron knows how to stretch the field and he has the weapons to be able to do that successfully.


@barrettsallee What player with high 2012 expectations that performed poorly has the best chance to have a successful 2013?

— Robert Edwards (@thewhitebudha) March 21, 2013

I was asked a similar question earlier in the offseason, and I said South Carolina wide receiver Shaq Roland. So we'll exclude him.

Another guy to watch is Auburn linebacker Kris Frost. At 6'2", 230 pounds, Frost has everything it takes to be a star in first-year defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's defense.

Frost was supposed to come in and make an impact last season, but struggled to see the field. The new 4-2-5 scheme will allow the strength of his game—his speed—to be on display early and often.

Eight of Auburn's 12 opponents in 2013 run some variation of the spread, with the others having elements of it in their respective playbooks. That means the Tigers will have to find guys that are able to make plays in space, and Frost is certainly one of those candidates.



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