Will a coaching change make Tennessee relevant again? Find out in our 2013 Tennessee Football Preview.
In only 15 days of spring training, new Volunteer head coach Butch Jones has asked his players to learn an entirely new offensive scheme under a brand new coaching staff. But Jones may be asking a bit too much of his players considering that the roster he’s working with is a bit understaffed in its own right. Luckily for the UT players, the west coast offense is fairly simple and can be grasped quickly when taught correctly.
But before Tennessee can really implement this style of offense, the Vols have to first decide who is going to run this new style. Currently coach Jones has two quarterbacks battling for the starting role; Justin Worley is the only one with any game snaps at Tennessee, though Nathan Peterman is a dual-threat quarterback that fits UT’s scheme much better than the more experienced Worley. But both have roughly the same skill level, and realistically they will probably both produce similar results in the upcoming season.
No matter who ends up at quarterback, much more important is the question of Rajion Neal’s health.
As previously stated, coach Butch’s west coast offense appears to be in full bloom two weeks after spring training had started. And if Rajion Neal can’t provide the volunteers with a lot of rushing production, Tennessee might as well just lay down and play dead. Because of injury, Neal had a tough go last season for the Volunteers, but that was also under a much different scheme that required him to go for the home run far too frequently. This season, Jones would be extremely happy if Neal could just average 5.5 yards a carry and chip away at the defense so that the less talented quarterbacks can operate without so much pressure.
Behind a very athletic offensive line, Neal should be a thousand-yard rusher as well as one of the few bright spots on this lackluster offense.
Much more impressive is the Tennessee defense which is one of the few defenses in the SEC with experience at every position.
The youngest of the three areas is the defensive line, but luckily for Tennessee, they have extremely smart linebackers with great play recognition skills, allowing the defensive line to anticipate where the play is going. The linebacker corps doesn’t just help the line, but the secondary as well. Cornerback Justin Coleman is superb pursuit tackler who adds a base to work from for the Volunteer defensive backfield. It won’t be easy to run against this team, messing up the flow of offense for any team.
But the real problem with Tennessee is their inability to create big plays of their own, and their roster simply doesn’t have the talent to win many games based on the conservative scheme they will be using this season. Like Arkansas, the Vols should be happy with any bowl at the conclusion of 2013, even if it means staying home in Nashville.
Thanks for checking out our 2013 Tennessee Football Preview. Check back tomorrow for our preview of Texas A&M.
Special to the Capstone Report By Alex DeRemer.