Tennessee will play the mighty 49ers of Charlotte this weekend for its Homecoming game. Ideally, this will be the most boring, safe game of the season for Tennessee. But when is anything boring or safe with this team? There is drama in what seems like every game in every sport at Tennessee. Charlotte is a Group of 5 team with a 4-4 record, but there is bound to be some talking points during and after the game. It’s always hard to predict what those talking points will end up being, but here are four bold predictions on what they might be:
Bold: Jarrett Guarantano Won’t Throw For 200 Yards
This isn’t exactly the wildest prediction, but it isn’t a given either. So far this season, Guarantano has only produced two games of more than 200 passing yards. One 328-yard game against Auburn and a 207-yard game against South Carolina. Tennessee’s conservative offensive play style isn’t exactly conducive to big passing games, either, so this feels like a pretty safe bet. Even if Guarantano does have a great day, that probably means the game isn’t close. In which case he would likely get pulled off the field so backups Keller Chryst and J.T. Shrout can get some playing time.
All this is to say, it doesn’t seem like Guarantano will break 200 passing yards tomorrow.
Bolder: Tennessee’s Defense Will Hold Charlotte Under 200 Total Yards
Tennessee’s defense has been terrible this season, all things considered. They had good games against UTEP and ETSU, sure, but the 376 yards they allowed to South Carolina was somehow the third-fewest they have allowed all season. So far this year, Tennessee has allowed 6.9 yards per play on defense to Power 5 opponents.
Obviously, Charlotte is not a Power 5 team, and it has to be driving Jeremy Pruitt crazy that his defense has performed so poorly. This weekend should serve as a good opportunity to get back on track on the defensive side of the ball.
Boldest: Tennessee Won’t Cover The Spread
The current spread on MyBookie for this game is -22 in favor of Tennessee. While that might seem about right, Tennessee hasn’t exactly blown out the last few G5 opponents its matched up with. Looking at the last five G5 teams its played, Tennessee has won by margins of 24 against UTEP, 14 against Southern Miss, four against UMass, nine against Ohio, and seven against Appalachian State. All that averages out to a margin of victory of just under 12 points. Math dictates that 12 is fewer than the -22 line.
You could make a case that the last four games above were under a lame-duck head coach, and you would be correct. But, Tennessee has managed to beat itself in a few games so far this season, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they might sleep/limp through a win against a not-so-great Charlotte team.
Or Tennessee could win by 50, I don’t know, I’m not a clairvoyant.
Bolderest: Phillip Fulmer Shows Up Saturday Morning And Does His Own Stadium Renovations
Earlier this week, athletic director Phillip Fulmer announced that he was putting the planned renovations to Neyland Stadium on hold for the time being.
— knoxnews (@knoxnews) November 1, 2018
There are a lot of reasons for this, to be sure. Chief of which was that most of the proposed changes were stupid. But, I personally like to think that Fulmer just looked over the numbers and thought, “I could run by Home Depot right now and knock half of this out on my own.” So, on Saturday morning, trying to save a buck, Fulmer rolls through Neyland Stadium with only a project list, a loaded down pickup truck, and a can-do attitude. Fulmer manages to fix all of the problems in the southeast side of the stadium in a few hours, further proving he can solve all of the university’s problems on his own. The troughs are gone, there’s WiFi inside the stadium, a fresh paint job on the outside, and the Vols win big. All thanks to Fulmer.
Or he just sleeps in and enjoys homecoming, I don’t know, I’m not a clairvoyant.