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The Annual Nightmare is Ending: Football Season is Here for the Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers

Can you feel it?

The closer we get to it, you begin to feel a tingle in your bones, and your blood pumps a little faster. As it approaches, we talk less about autographs and the party habits of kids that somehow manage to come across as entitled despite being grossly under-compensated. Attention shifts. The obsession with recruiting tempers a little (even when the Vols land a monster).

The majority of your conversations focus on the plans for Saturday. Weddings? Your kids’ athletic events? Birthday parties? Those can wait.

You have all been brave through our summer-long plight with baseball, and the payoff is just around the corner. Football is almost here, and the Tennessee Volunteers will soon be running through the Power T in Neyland Stadium again.

While our beloved JCO has been busy making national headlines with the Butch Jones Song, I’ve been grinding everyday occasionally going to watch Tennessee’s practices to see if I can get a feel for how the 2013 season is going to go.

(Quick tangent: if “victims” of moonshiners ever begin the movement to have Rocky Top removed as the fight song for offensive reasons, I vote that the BJ Song- the one by JCO and not a dirty rap song that 2 Live Crew probably made a long time ago- be in the running for the official replacement.)

JCO edit: oh my, y’all. I’m not so sure about that. Anyway, sorry to interrupt. Carry on, my friend.

Quick notes from practice that need to be told:

The coaching staff is insane intense.

Not the type of crazy  intense that makes you nervous that they will have a mental-Urban Meyeresque-breakdown mid-season if things are not going smoothly, but more along the lines of potentially abducting Nick Saban the week before the Alabama game. If it comes to that, you should find comfort in knowing that there will be no evidence found. This staff prides itself on the perfection of details.

Saying that in-game management was not a strong point for the Vols the past five seasons would be like saying that Will Muschamp needs to work on his happy face. The current staff will be able to count to 11, out-scheme opponents, and make adjustments in the heat of battle.

Muschamp

Photo: CBS Sports

Trust me, Will, Vol fans just made that same face.

By the way, the fact that Erik Spoelstra and Butch Jones are friends? Mind. Blown. If this whole LeBron-to-the-NFL thing needs a launchpad, I’m just saying. Tennessee does still have the number one recruiting class in the country.

The quarterback battle cheapens the significance of the word “battle.”

Most people that have had access to the team will not say this, but if Justin Worley is the starting quarterback, the ceiling of the team is significantly lower. That is putting it nicely. As the most experienced quarterback option, Worley has been given the majority of the reps with the first team in practice.

One could say that it tips the hand that he is the starter, but in all honesty, I have a feeling that it is the coaching staff giving him every opportunity to win the job. The fact that the quarterback race is still a fairly even competition should be a damning assessment for Worley.

For my money, and, let’s face it, YOUR money as many fans are financially invested in the team either through season tickets/parking passes, illegal gambling, or perhaps the alcohol that you’ll use to celebrate a win or agonize in defeat, Nathan Peterman gives the Tennessee Volunteers the best chance for a successful season.  Worley could likely guide the team to six wins and a bowl game; Peterman gives them a chance to win eight.

Wide Receiver U or Wide Receiver Who?

See what I did there? Now, THAT is journalism.

Last year, when Cordarrell Patterson had the ball in his hands, everyone held their breath. The same thing will happen this year every time a passing play is called.

Truthfully, there is SEC-level talent on the roster. The question is whether or not anyone taps into it. Raw potential looks a lot different when paired with inconsistent quarterback play.

The secondary will be…fun.

People have fun in a variety of ways. Some people like playing putt-putt or watching a movie while others think jumping out of airplanes or running down a street being chased by bulls is fun. I think the defense will still be vulnerable to big plays (hopefully at a significantly lower rate), but they will also be more equipped to produce some big ones for the Vols.

A mixture of upperclassmen and newcomers provides an interesting dynamic.

The offensive line is going to be nasty.

Hopefully the big bruisers have retained the proper shower etiquette that was instilled into them by Double-D. This unit is without a doubt the strength of the team and will be Tennessee’s best shot at exceeding expectations this season.

At the very least, Tennessee will be back to pounding the rock. Opposing defenses will be focused on stopping the run all season, but the offensive line is talented enough to still be able to create holes.

The Tennessee Volunteers may struggle this season. With question at key positions, players are going to have to learn on the job. On the other hand, the (forgive me for this) rise to the top has begun. The darkest days are over.  You have done your part in kick-starting the rebuilding process, enjoy the ride of the 2013 football season.

Go ahead and fulfill some of your obligations while you still can, because, in a little more than two weeks, you have a date with 100,000 of your closest friends. There’s a lot of ass to start kickin’, Butch Jones.

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facebook comments:

  • Vann Shortt

    Fun read Jon. Been reading your stuff since you started. First time poster.