Tennessee Football 2011: 7 Games with Blowout Potential
This season, Derek Dooley will be measurably more prepared than last year's outing.
The predominant freshman-lead offense was at times more nervous than a lady of the evening, sitting in the front row at a Baptist revival.
Then there were moments when we all saw glimpses of extraordinary talent coupled with generous poise.
For those same reasons, the Vols face a handful of opponents that could leave them reviewing a massacre on SportsCenter.
The question is which team's blood will cover the grass?
September 3, Montana at Knoxville
The high point for the Grizzlies is being able to move the ball against Big Sky opponents. The problem with that is they stray too far from their own waters to battle schools like Tennessee.
The Montana defense appeared to be unstoppable as they pummeled Big Sky opponents changing variable defenses from 3-4 to Philadelphia 5-2 and back again. Then again, two of the four games they lost last season was Cal Poly and Weber State.
Jim Chaney's spread is just too much for the Grizzlies to handle when they allow 300 yards passing against teams like Eastern Washington.
QB Tyler Bray will spread the love among the receivers, and in doing so, will set up Poole for the run all day.
Deficit: Montana 30-plus pts
September 10, Cincinnati at Knoxville
First off, is it a bear or a cat or both? Sorry, that always bothered me.
Last season, Cincinnati scored an average of 27 pts. per game, only the Big East average was higher.
And, they were also out-tackled on almost every A-topic. Their saving grace is they get back a ton of players on both sides which should get them back into the drivers' seat for a run at the Big East.
Too bad for them they are 3-8 against FBS (1-A). The last thing the Bearcats will hear is Rocky Top as it's played for the 300th time.
DC Justin Wilcox will key the SS spies in on Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros and leave him wishing his 139.49 rating could somehow still be in existence.
Deficit: Cincinnati 26 pts
October 1, Buffalo at Knoxville
Last season, the Bulls lost every game except for Rhode Island and Bowling Green.
The same coach is there (they shouldn't have fired Turner Gill). They have two QBs but are still undecided as to which will start. The defense schemes aren't simple enough for their level of talent.
Another bad season for the Bulls and a bad way to start off their October campaign.
OC Jim Chaney and DC Justin Wilcox will use the Bulls as a whipping post for second and third string.
Deficit: Buffalo 42 pts
October 15, LSU at Knoxville
OK, let's forget the logistics and stats. This will be probably the most emotional game for the Vols this season. But, the fact of the matter is the Vols beat LSU last season regardless of what the scoreboard read, and they did it with less talent.
There won't be anymore snafu's where players aren't counted, and the Vols will have the home-field advantage against the Tigers, and it will be loud.
Every player, coach and fan wants payback. The Vols are more evenly matched this season so the outcome will definitely be night day. Why? Because John White said so, and that's the bottom line (Sorry Stone Cold). This will be Derek Dooley's signature win.
Deficit: LSU 22 pts
November 5, MTSU at Knoxville
The Blue Raiders; well...do we really need to analyze this? So be it.
MTSU was outscored, out-rushed, out-passed, out-tackled, out-special teamed and out-coached last season. And it was under the watchful eyes of experienced players. Those same kids come back. They keep almost everyone.
Did I mention they lost to Troy last season 42-17? What about 51-24 to Arkansas State? The Blue Raiders won't even manage a field goal. Tyler Bray and Poole will break school records this day, mark it on your calendar.
Deficit: MTSU 50-plus pts
November 19, Vanderbilt at Knoxville
By now, Commodore fans should be used to disappointment.
2008 was the first time Vandy has been bowl eligible since 1982, before that, it was 1974 then 1955. Let's face it, Vandy has never been an SEC-caliber team.
It wouldn't matter if Bear Bryant himself was coaching with Jimmy Johnson as the OC. Vanderbilt will always be dedicated to higher learning, and athletics is nothing but a distraction.
Vandy might win three games this season, and the Vols sure as Shirley won't be one of them.
Deficit: Vanderbilt 24-plus pts
November 26, Kentucky at Lexington
He is supposed to be the savior of the Wildcats. Joker Philips has been standing idly by waiting for an opportunity to breath new life into his alma mater. Including his playing time, he has been serving the University in some capacity for over 17 years. But is loyalty enough for Kentucky?
Everyone knows the streak, but even at home, the Wildcats still have the mystique of the white buffalo. Vegas odds makers are saying this is the year for Kentucky plus-3. Don't you believe it. They get 10 starters back on defense, but the majority of those guys are the same crew that was out-tackled by their opponents 71.92-62.54 percent.
The offense gets five returning starters, but Mike Hartline isn't one of them. Vegas blew it on this one; the run will kill and so will the Vols receivers. The streak continues
Deficit: Kentucky 22-plus pts