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Why The Tennessee Volunteers Will Surprise This Year

Gavin Andrews@@gavin_andrewsCorrespondent IIJuly 25, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 01: Eric Berry #14 of the University of Tennessee Volunteers runs with a fumble by Trindon Holliday #8 of the Louisiana State University Tigers in the SEC Championship game on December 1, 2007 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Tigers defeated the Volunteers 21-14.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In my time writing for Bleacher Report, I have written mainly about the MLB, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Cleveland Browns.

Hopefully my first venture into collegiate football writing will be smooth.

The Vols 2008 season was an obvious disappointment, but they had a first year starting quarterback trying to understand an offense that was extremely confusing.

Now, with a new staff, a new playbook, and a new hope, Tennessee could surprise some people this year.

Lane Kiffin, although unsuccessful in his stint as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, was a very good offensive coordinator at the University of Southern California. He, along with Jim Chaney, will bring a playbook easy enough to understand, yet effective enough to win games in the SEC.

Monte Kiffin was an elite defensive coordinator in the NFL, so I have high hopes for our defense this year.

Jonathan Crompton and the quarterbacks excite me this year. They were the ones most clearly and directly affected by last year's confusing playbook, and they should benefit from a change of pace. 

Crompton was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school in North Carolina as an exciting gunslinger. Under Erik Ainge the first three years of his collegiate career, he didn't start off well as a redshirt junior. He had a very impressive performance to end the year though. He has been said to be making excellent progress under Lane Kiffin, who recruited Crompton.

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If he doesn't fare well, Nick Stephens, who has also said to be making progress, and Nick Lamaison could step in and do well.

The running game will be very good this year, with Bryce Brown, the number one recruit in the nation, leading the way. Montario Hardesty and David Oku will make for a very exciting rushing attack, and will keep the defense on it's heels.

The wide receivers could very well be the deciding factor for this team.  If Gerald Jones can get healthy, he will be their go-to guy.  Denarius Moore, Brandon Warren, and freshmen Nu'keese Richardson and James Green will also look to contribute in the passing game. 

Tight ends Jeff Cottham and Luke Stocker could provide the physical receiving presence over the middle that will help out Crompton a lot.

Tennessee's offensive line has always been very good, and that shouldn't change much this year.

The Tennessee defensive line is very strong this year.  Dan Williams has been very good in his three years at defensive tackle, and Wes Brown had to be moved to defensive tackle because the defensive ends were so promising.

Ben Martin and Chris Walker are amazingly quick for defensive ends, and Montori Hughes could make an impact as a freshman.

Tennessee is searching for answers this summer at linebacker.  Rico McCoy will be great again, but he is the only returning starting linebacker from last year.

LaMarcus Thompson and Nick Reveiz seem to have the edge to start in the other two linebacker spots, but a bevvy of freshmen could win a starting spot.

Eric Berry is easily my favorite college football player, and he could win the Heisman as a safety.  He alone makes their secondary great, but the complementing players to Berry are also very good, making the Vols secondary virtually unstoppable. 

I believe that Tennessee could take a lot of people by surprise this year; maybe winning ten games if they can beat Georgia.  Right now, I only see Florida and Alabama as games that are very unlikely to win.

I am very excited about my Vols this year, and hope that Jonathan Crompton can supply consistency at quarterback.  Who knows what he is capable of?

What do you guys think that UT is capable of this year? 

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