Publish date:

10 TENNESSEE

Author:

OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

"They've got two monsters in junior running backs Jalen Hurd (6'4", 240 pounds) and Alvin Kamara (5'10", 215). Hurd looks like a defensive end and Kamara is about as explosive as anyone in the country. And they've got an experienced offensive line. If I'm them, I'm going to rely heavily on the run because I can control the game that way. [Senior] quarterback Joshua Dobbs has plenty of experience, but he's more likely to beat you with his legs than his arm. You want to keep him in the pocket and make him throw. One of their best plays last season was running Dobbs, especially in the red zone. It's hard to defend that.

The defense has playmakers at every level. Outside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin would have been selected in the first few rounds of this past NFL draft if he hadn't stayed for his senior year. Expect new coordinator Bob Shoop to bring some pressure, especially out of zone coverage. He certainly wants to load up the box and stop the run, which you better be able to do in the SEC.

Special teams--wise, they're one of the best in the country. [Senior cornerback] Cameron Sutton was first in the FBS in punt-return average last year, and [junior safety] Evan Berry led the country in kick-return average.

This is one of the most complete teams I've seen. They're the team to beat in SEC East."

FAST FACTS

6

Consecutive victories to end 2015, the Volunteers' longest winning streak since '03.

5

Consecutive years that new coordinator Bob Shoop has led a defense that finished in the Top 25.

4

Running back Jalen Hurd's SEC rank last year in yards per game (99.1) and total yards (1,288) over 12 starts last year.

3

SEC players over the last 20 years to have 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in a game: Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel and senior QB Joshua Dobbs.

5

Interceptions thrown by Dobbs in 2015, the least by a Vols starter since Peyton Manning had four in 1995.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

5 YEAR TREND

WINS

15

12

9

6

3

5--7

5--7

5--7

7--6

9--4

YEAR

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

X-FACTOR

PRESTON WILLIAMS caught just seven passes as a freshman, in 2015 (he missed four games with a hamstring injury), but he led the team with an explosive 22.6 yards per catch. His first career grab was a 25-yard touchdown against Western Carolina. This spring Williams, a former five-star recruit, was the Volunteers' most improved receiver. If the imposing (6'4", 209 pounds) wideout can develop into a consistent target, their offense will truly take flight.

2016 SCHEDULE

THURSDAY 9/1

APPALACHIAN STATE

SATURDAY 9/10

VIRGINIA TECH

(IN BRISTOL, TENN.)

SATURDAY 9/17

OHIO

SATURDAY 9/24

FLORIDA [BIGGEST GAME]

SATURDAY 10/1

AT GEORGIA [KEY MATCHUP]

SATURDAY 10/8

AT TEXAS A&M

SATURDAY 10/15

ALABAMA [KEY MATCHUP]

BYE

SATURDAY 10/29

AT SOUTH CAROLINA

SATURDAY 11/5

TENNESSEE TECH

SATURDAY 11/12

KENTUCKY

SATURDAY 11/19

MISSOURI

SATURDAY 11/26

AT VANDERBILT

KEY MATCHUP

BIGGEST GAME