March 22, 2009

How good will Tennessee be in 2009?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

This week's question: Tennessee made its latest recruiting splash this week with the signing of Bryce Brown, the nation's No. 1 prospect. How do you think the Vols will do on the field this fall?

Olin Buchanan's answer: As bad as last season was, Tennessee still came close to posting eight victories. If the offense had had any pulse at all, the Volunteers would have been in a bowl. Although there are some holes on the defensive line, Monte Kiffin will put a tough defensive unit on the field and will keep the Vols close in most games. The offense obviously will have to perform better, but it couldn't be much worse. A different system figures to be beneficial to whoever emerges at quarterback. Brown and Lennon Creer, who should've played more last season, will boost the running game. The depth in the backfield will help the quarterback, too. Tennessee won't contend to win the SEC East, but I think the Vols will play better and get seven or eight wins.

Tom Dienhart's answer: There is a chance Tennessee could finish last in the SEC East this fall. While Lane Kiffin has energized a stale program and has been able to add great talent in his short time on campus, it doesn't look as if it will be enough to make the Vols a contender in the SEC this fall. In fact, I think Tennessee will continue to struggle and pay for the spotty recruiting that plagued the final few years of the Phil Fulmer era. The chief issue for the Vols in 2009: Who will be the quarterback? Unless that position is stabilized, it won't matter how well the defense plays.

Mike Huguenin's answer: Phil Fulmer is gone and Lane Kiffin is in as coach because the Vols' offense was pitiful last season. Even with the influx of skill-position talent, such as Brown, in this recruiting class, I don't think the offense is going to be much better this season. The Vols were third nationally in total defense last season, and that unit will be just as good under new coordinator Monte Kiffin. But unless a solid quarterback magically appears that seems extremely doubtful, given the candidates on the roster and the line gets a heck of a lot better, the offense again is going to struggle. A 7-5 record this fall is a legit goal, while an eight-win season would be something to celebrate.




 

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