Tennessee Football Schedule 2011: What to Know for Each Game
I've sat down, reviewed my notes and studied some statistical analysis to come with a revised look at the entire Big Orange schedule game-by-game. Some findings will surprise you and others won't. Let's take a quick look and see what the numbers are saying and how I interpreted it, and whether or not it's swayed my previous predictions. Here again is a look at the 2011 Tennessee Volunteer schedule.
Sept. 3: Montana at Knoxville
As much as Vol fans would love to see their opponents cowering in their sweat waiting for the impending doom of kickoff, the Grizzlies are pretty much indifferent to their task at hand. Don't get me wrong, they know that playing Tennessee is a whole different ball game than playing Cal Poly. "They'll never face anything like that first game," Montana head coach Robin Pflugrad said of the Vol date.
The QB decision is till up for grabs, which could spell disaster of the greatest order considering the speedy hard-hitting secondary they will be facing inside Neyland. And any QB worth his salt needs consistent reps through the summer to familiarize himself with his receivers and establish his leadership amongst his teammates.
Even with 15 returning starters, the Grizzlies are at a stalemate deciding who gets the ball at most positions. Their star RB is gone, the QB is at best 20 passes strong , and the defense allows teams like Weber State to dump 30 points on them.
Original prediction: W 42-0
Revision prediction: W 48-0
Sept. 10: Cincinnati at Knoxville
Looking back at my original prediction, I am somewhat satisfied with the logic. They have returning RBs galore, and they seem nearly identical to Tennessee's depth across the board as far as youth goes. The RB issue will get them in trouble.
As their receiving corps are at best spring seasoned, they will favor the run and discover, regardless of whichever front DC Justin Wilcox uses, that you can only have so much success without stretching the secondary.
For the aforementioned reasons Cincinnati will have a great first quarter then falter as the LBs get acclimated to their run-heavy offense. Just like volleyball the DL will set them up and the LBs will spike the RBs. Above you watch an unranked Syracuse dismantle the Bearcats.
Original prediction: W 28-17
Revised prediction: W 34-7
Sept. 17: Florida at Gainesville
What better way to send Urban Meyer off than to have an in-state rival beat the brakes off your high-riding team?
Anyway, I have re-read the numbers and and re-read the reports where Charlie Weis has a halo around his head, and Wil Muschamp is building a brand new Tebow QB, WR, OL, LB, DT....blah blah blah. Nobody cares.
They still have to play the same teams that every other SEC team faces. They are working out a few kinks, I'll give them that. Muschamp is unhappy with how the players are unfamiliar with each other so he has strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti working on team-building exercises to strengthen their bonds.
I wonder if the FSU outcome would have been different if they knew each other's favorite color? For the hug classes, I give the Gators one more TD.
Original prediction: W 28-7
Revised prediction: W 28-14
Oct.1: Buffalo at Knoxville
It's the second season for the Bull under new coach Jeff Quinn. His spread integration brought about a 2-10 season. One hiccup that caused so much trouble was changing QBs mid-season, hoping that new eyes could breath life into his offense...it didn't.
The Bulls still do not have a clear idea of who is starting at QB, so the receivers will try hard but find difficulty knowing where to show up. Nobody wants to kick a man...or a Bull when he's down but the inevitable will happen and Tennessee will start the month of October unbeaten. I'm sticking my guns on this one.
Original prediction: W 48-7
Revised prediction: None
Video reference begins at 1:30
Oct. 8: Georgia at Knoxville
Last season, the Vols were literally humbled as the Dawgs protected their house and sent the Vols back to Knoxville nursing several bites.
With half of the offense left, the quick read is that as good as QB Aaron Murray is, the Vol secondary is better. Then you notice that eight starters return for the Dawgs' defense and you remember just how quick they tore apart Matt Simms and wonder if Bray fares better.
The honest answer is yes. And, even if Malik Jackson finds difficulty returning, I still believe the Vol secondary are too much for Murray to bypass. With the home-field advantage, summer camp improvements, Janzen Jackson's return and the Dawgs' loss of three LBs and a CB, I recant and give the Vols the win.
Original prediction: L 27-38
Revised prediction: W 21-7
Oct. 15: Louisiana at Knoxville
As if the SEC needed to be harder, LSU returns nine offensive and seven defensive starters. Then they finish it all off with the No.10 recruiting class with 17, 4-star commits. I won't bore you by reflecting on the Bayou Blunder, but it's important to remember because what it did to the Vols and their fans.
That being said, the Tigers have to travel to Knoxville, and as much as the Bayou Bengals would like to claim indifference to Tennessee fans, it does get a little loud by the river. Okay, so where do the numbers come in? The Tiger's main receiver Rueben Randle is gone, so is their main rusher Stevan Ridley.
That's all you need to know, everything else is the same, and as every Vol fan knows DC John Chavis is a creature of habit. Chavis won't fix it if it isn't broke. His same defense carried the Tigers through an 11-2 season, five of those wins were against ranked opponents. It won't be pretty, but the Vols will get it done in regulation. Bray will use every receiver and throw 2-3 interceptions.
Previous prediction: W 30-24 OT
Revised prediction: W 28-17
Oct. 22: Alabama at Tuscaloosa
My how it hurts to predict anything negative about a team you love, but be that as it may there is no getting around the fact that Nick Saban is still the teacher and Derek is still being mentored by his old boss. He emulates nearly every facet of his coaching style and because of that Dooley will fall short.
And of course Bama is still packed with extraordinary talent that is very difficult for the Vols to match once they've been coached up a bit on either side. However, the Vols learned a trick or two last year as they battled the Tide at Neyland.
No. 1, Bama had trouble stopping the run last year despite the youth of the offensive line. No. 2, they quickly started picking up the coverage assignments and wouldn't Matt Simms breath; so OC Jim Chaney better find a new way. No. 3, the Vols couldn't stop the run on Bama either as they eat up the defensive front for 210 yards. No. 4, Bama passed on the Vols for 326 yards, uhh you listening, Mr. Wilcox?
Original prediction: W 33-29
Revised prediction: L 28-17
Oct. 29: South Carolina at Knoxville
Here I go again. The tale of the tape is that the Gamecocks lose four starting OL but they get back QB Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore. The defense was just as wounded, but their star CB Stephon Gilmore is back for more.
Garcia will be nimble enough to evade the tricky situation caused by the lack of OL depth and Lattimore will simply run away with the game. And trust me you, don't want to read the rest of the analysis. Raise your hand if you hate Steve Spurrier.
Original prediction: W 33-24
Revised prediction: L 31-29 OT
Nov. 5: Middle Tennessee at Knoxville
The Blue Raiders are somewhat lessened again. The Blue Raiders continue to be pummeled on a regular basis by their Div. 1 opponents. They consistently struggle trying to achieve any kind defensive, or offense for that matter.
If you need to miss any Vol game this season, this will be the one. Derek Dooley will rotate virtually every player who hasn't seen playing time. And when all the depth has been rotated, the OC and DC will start trying out those trick plays they were scared to use against everyone else.
Expect frequent rotation just to keep the Blue Raiders riding a goose egg. You could very well see a backup QB throw for 200-300 yards, and a back-up RB rush for 150 plus.
Original prediction: W 28-3
Revised Prediction: W 52-9
Nov. 12: Arkansas at Fayetteville
These are not your dad's Razorbacks, their only losses came at the hand of opponents that were ranked No.1, 6 and 7 respectively. Bobby Petrino is doing exactly what they are paying him to do, putting Arkansas football back into the SEC.
Knile Davis' 1,322 yards rushing and Ryan Mallett's 3,869 yards passing were undeniably one half of the Razorback team last season. I would be scared, but almost the entire OL is gone as is Ryan Mallett. That is one heckuva loss, and it won't matter if Herchel Walker were running; without those seasoned big guys pushing everybody out of the way, Davis will be lucky to break a 1,000-yard season.
They get the same receivers back, but QB Tyler Wilson is not Mallett. Defensively, senior safety Tramain Thomas will be busy, but with the loss of fellow S Rudell Crim and CB Ramon Broadway, he will be swimming in a sea of "WHO'S GONNA COVER THAT GUY?!" Derek Dooley will secure a contract extension with this win.
Original prediction: L 33-21
Revised prediction: W 24-10
Nov. 19: Vanderbilt at Knoxville
James Franklin is a brave man to take Vanderbilt as his first head coaching job. It's a huge challenge for even the best of coaches. With a record of 2-10 to close out the season, I would give the job away too.
Despite it all, they still reside in the SEC, but as you read this they are undoubtedly the worst team in the conference. They are recruiting better, but you won't see those players until next year.
Last year the Commodores were outmatched in nearly every area of the game, and don't expect miracles this season either. Bray will break season records against the Commodores.
Original prediction: W 42-7
Revised prediction: None
Nov. 26: Kentucky at Lexington
The only thing you have to worry about is whether or you'll need a parka or a raincoat; it gets cold up there this time of year.
Joker Phillips is rebuilding the Wildcats, you can bet on that. This season they get back their almost the entire defense but seem to have misplaced all of the playmakers on the offense, including the starting QB.
Phillips went out recruiting but only managed to fill a handful of key positions. With only two players being selected All-Conference, the possibility of any real competition will come on defense. The Wildcats always play hard, but due to losses on the offense and transition from defense the streak continues. Coach Dooley, please hire Tee Martin it breaks my heart to see him in blue.
Original prediction: W 35-10
Revised prediction: W 42-14