Remember that best/worse case scenario post from August? Seems like Tennessee has somehow managed to hit the worst case scenario in almost every game so far. Worse than that, they’re looking like they’re well on track to finish the season 3-9: the worst case scenario we predicted going into the season.
Hopefully, that won’t be the case. Obviously, there were plenty of takeaways for the coaching staff following the 47-21 home loss to the Florida Gators on Saturday. Here are three things that we learned:
The Offensive Line Is Worse Than We Thought
Wow, that was bad. Logan Quinton wrote a post summing up the whole situation pretty well. The team as a whole is living and dying with their offensive line play, as most teams do. The problem is, Tennessee is currently dying because the offensive line is playing poorly. Even worse than that, there isn’t one certain player that is struggling, it’s the unit as a whole.
Basically, if Tennessee is going to start winning games consistently, the offensive line will have to start playing well consistently. Simple, right?
Also, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the persistence of Jarrett Guarantano. He has tried to will the team forward, putting his body on the line what seems like every single game. The group blocking for him has struggled since he has been at Tennessee, which hasn’t helped much. But, through all the open hits and dirty shots he has had to endure, he still seems pretty driven to help get Tennessee back to winning ways.
Turnovers Are Bad
You would think this would be obvious, but apparently keeping the ball wasn’t a priority on Saturday. Tennessee’s drives in the first half ended as follows: fumble, interception, turnover on downs, field goal, safety, fumble, fumble, halftime.
HANG THIS IN A MUSEUM pic.twitter.com/saODgsUuNj
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 23, 2018
In what world is anyone going to win with an offensive performance like that for an entire half of a game?
People will try to twist the whole situation to make it sound like if Tennessee can limit turnovers, they can start to win again. That is not true. Punting the ball for an entire half would be just as bad. But turnovers in general are going to lead to ugly games like Saturday.
A 3-9 Season Is Very Possible
The dark days aren’t over yet. Saturday was possibly the most embarrassing night for Tennessee and its fans since the entire Butch Jones era. With the ’98 BCS Title team in town being celebrated in front of a packed house, Tennessee fell flat on its face. Worse than that, the expectations from the season went from hopefully making a bowl game to trying to avoid losing eight or more games in one season, again.
The Jeremy Pruitt honeymoon phase is officially over. People are starting to poke and prod at the program again looking for the cracks in the already shoddy armor. A lot of fingers are being pointed at offensive coordinator Tyson Helton’s play-calling. Frankly, I think there’s a lot more problems with this team than just the plays that are being called.
Things aren’t exactly looking up much after last weekend, either. Georgia might name its score this Saturday, considering Pruitt and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart probably don’t like each other too much. Following Georgia, the Vols will get a much needed bye week to regroup. Which will lead into a road trip to Auburn for what is sure to be another beatdown. The rough stretch of games ends with a home game against Alabama which, if current trends continue, might end 70-0.
Everything is awful on this rainy Monday in Knoxville, and basketball season can’t get here soon enough.