2011 Record: 5-7; 1-7 SEC
2011 Bowl: N/A
Head coach: Derek Dooley
Odds to win BCS: 150/1
Odds to win SEC: 35/1
Odds to win SEC East Div: 12/1
Betting Futures from Bovada
The Volunteers return one of the most experienced OLs in recent history, with 99 starts between them, which is quite an improvement from the three starts combined prior to 2010.
QB Tyler Bray is one of 18 returning starters and the 6’6″ QB has the size and strength to stay tough in the pocket until he settles on a receiver. He’s best in the pocket but has show decent scrambling abilities so far.
At TB, the Vols will use a combination of Rajion Neal, Marlin Lane, and Devrin Young. At FB, they will use Ben Bartholomew.
Tennessee is loaded at wide out. They have Justin Hunter returning from ACL injury, but will miss All SEC pick Da’Rick Rogers, who failed a drug test, was indefinitely suspended, then transferred to Tennessee Tech. However, they’ll be bringing aboard the #1 JUCO prospect in Cordarrelle Patterson. TE Michael Rivera will be back, as will Cameron Clear, who has the size to be make a difference as a sophomore.
At LT, they will use Antonio “Tiny” Richardson and Dallas Thomas will slide to left guard. Ja’Wuan James is going to start at RT and they have four veterans coppering for two spots at center and right guard.
Sal Sunseri is one of the more versatile defensive coordinators in the college rank and will employ a number of different defensive schemes for the Vols. They’ll nee to make an improvement, as they ranked 9th in the SEC in scoring allowed, giving up 22.6 points per game, which was not so bad nationally (36th).
At DE, they return the athletic Jacques Smith and a quick Marlon Walls starting opposite of Smith. Jordan Williams, a sophomore, will see time, as well. The LT rotation still must be settled. They added two JUCO transfers at the position in Darrington Sentimore and Daniel McCullers. McCullers is a “big ole boy,” standing 6’6″ and weighing 380.
The run defense must improve but they have some experience linebackers, including senior Herman Lathers and two second year starters in Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson, who was a 2011 Freshman All-American.
FS Brian Randolph is high on Sunseri’s schemes. “We’re blitzing our DBs more and bringing our safeties down,” Randolph said.
At CB, the Vols have four rotation players and Eric Gordon will figure into the nickel, while Brent Brewer and Byron Moore will battle for the SS position.
Junior Michael Palardy has been a disappointment and made only two-thirds of his field goals last year. Soph. punter Matt Darr has been considered to be the best punter in his class. Devrin Young will handle returns, although Patterson, Quenshaun Watson, and LaDarrell McNeil will handle some of the duties.
Tennessee should be good keeping the ball in the air, but their running game must improve vastly. Athlon magazine predicts an improvement from last year, with a 7-5 projected record that includes 3-5 in the SEC (improvement comes slow sometimes). They have an easier schedule, too, which also makes an improvement on last year’s record likely.