Three things for Tennessee to be successful in 2019

Published 6:00 am Friday, July 19, 2019

With the sands of the hourglass quickly pouring through, another season of Tennessee Volunteer football is just around the door as this week SEC coaches and players came together for their annual media day in Alabama.

And like many Tennessee fans here local, I am excited about another season and I also am hoping that this will be the first year in a while that my Vols earn a post-season bowl game.

Looking at the schedule, opponents are in place that might allow Tennessee to break the recent bowl-less streak.

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But just being able to go to a bowl isn’t what I am exactly looking for as is the case with many Tennessee fans.

What we would like to see is that the team is actually making strides to move back into a prominent role as year in and year out contenders for the SEC championship and to be in the mix for an opportunity at a national championship.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt has settled in after a first-year run that saw his team finish at 5-7 and has made several coaching changes, including Tee Martin and Jim Chaney, that have also improved the team’s ability to recruit some big-time athletes.

In taking a look at the team, I picked out three things that I feel is important to see in the first few games that will indicate that the team is moving the direction that Pruitt and all Big Orange fans everywhere want to see.

Can Jarrett Guarantano be the quarterback to start the needle up?

The redshirt junior quarterback from Lodi, New Jersey has been in a love-hate relationship with many fans because he has never shown consistency in being able to lead his team to the big wins it takes to win the SEC.

He looked impressive at times in 2018 and then he looked horrible at others.

With Chaney’s arrival, hopefully 2019 will be the breakout season the Tennessee signal-caller has been expected to provide.

Guarantano enters the season with 18 starts under his belt having thrown for 2,904 yards and 16 touchdowns and has only been picked off five times.

His 239-of-385 (62.2) pass attempts in his career and career interception percentage (1.30) place him second in Tennessee history in both categories.

Will Ty Chandler be able to the running back he is expected to be?

Rising junior running back Ty Chandler was recently named to the 2019 Doak Walker Award preseason candidate list. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.

Chandler led the Vols in 2018 with 630 rushing yards on 115 carries (5.5 ypc) and caught 19 passes for 183 yards and lead his team with seven touchdowns with four on the ground and three receiving scores.

The Nashville native who played his high school football at Montgomery Bell Academy and with 65 more yards will reach 1,000 for his collegiate career.

Anyone who follows Tennessee football knows that in most games in the SEC, the team that can run the football effectively is most often the team that wins the game.

Not always, but most of the time.

UT needs a big year from Chandler carrying the football to take the pressure off the passing game.

If he can effectively do that, Tennessee has a chance in every game they play to win.

Can the new blood on the offensive line live

up to the hype?

Every Vol fan is pulling for Trey Smith (6’6, 325 Jr.) to get back into the lineup on the offensive line and get back to play that earned him a spot on the 2017 Freshman All-SEC team.

But Smith will need help and hopefully, the addition of their two freshman five-star offensive linemen in Wanya Morris (6’4, 313) and  Darnell Wright(6’6, 330) will be the start of returning the Vols front five back to their glory days.

It’s a lot to put on first-year players, but Tennessee is working hard to bring in the nation’s top guns to get the blood pumping back into the football program and bring new life after years of disappointment.

Bluff City’s Dayne Davis (6’7, 330) is also a big offensive lineman who is on the roster for 2019 after playing his football for Sullivan East. Davis is the only player from Northeast Tennessee on the Volunteers roster this season.