#40 Tennessee Football 2019 Preview

Tennessee Volunteers
Overall Rank: #40
#10 SEC
 Tennessee Logo
Tennessee had an opportunity to reach a bowl game in Coach Jeremy Pruitt’s first season leading the program. Blowout losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt to end the season put an end to bowl hopes, but the Volunteers did manage to beat a couple good SEC teams in Auburn and Kentucky. Tennessee was terribly inconsistent and the offense was often extremely disappointing, but those victories are at least something to build from heading into the 2019 campaign.
2018 Record: 5-7, 2-6
2018 Bowl: None
Coach: Jeremy Pruitt (5-7 at Tennessee, 5-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney
Defensive Coordinator: Derrick Ansley
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ty Chandler, RB, 630 yards
Passing: Jarrett Guarantano, QB, 1,907 yards
Receiving: Marquez Callaway, WR, 592 yards
Tackles: Daniel Bitull, LB, 79
Sacks: Darrell Taylor, LB, 8.0
Interceptions: Bryce Thompson, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Tim Jordan, WR Josh Palmer, WR Jauan Jennings, S Nigel Warrior, LB Baylen Buchanan, LB Will Ignont
Key Losses: DE Kyle Phillips, DE Alexis Johnson, LB Darrin Kirkland
The Volunteers were the worst offense in the SEC, tallying a mere 325.5 yards per game. Just about everybody is back though and with experience should come consistency. For that to happen though, the ground game must improve. Ty Chandler rushed for 630 yards and four scores last season, while Tim Jordan added 522 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line must improve though and a couple freshmen could be asked to play right away. An improved line would help quarterback Jarrett Guarantano too. He was decent as a sophomore, throwing for 1,907 yards and a dozen touchdowns with just three interceptions. Still, the offense was often anemic and Tennessee needs their signal caller to make the occasional big play. With Marquez Callaway, Josh Palmer and Jauan Jennings back at wide receiver, Guarantano will have experienced options to help make those big plays.
The defensive line has a lot of questions. Nose tackle Emmit Gooden has the most experience and Tennessee is still waiting to see if Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon is eligible. Regardless, Tennessee needs to be able to stop the run and find a pass rusher to compliment linebacker Darrell Taylor. Daniel Bitull was the team’s top tackler in 2018 and there is depth at the position with Baylen Buchanan and Will Ignont returning. The secondary could be a strong spot too. Sophomore cornerbacks Alontae Taylor and Bryce Thompson are quality talents and senior safety Nigel Warrior is a solid leader who was second on the team with 64 tackles.
The Bottom Line:
Tennessee starts out the season with five of six games at home. With eight total home games, including non-conference affairs against Georgia State, BYU, Chattanooga and UAB, the Volunteers should be able to reach the six win plateau and at least make a bowl game of some sort. If the offense can find a spark somewhere, Tennessee will hope to do more than just reach six wins.
Projected Bowl: Liberty Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 129.1 (113th in nation, 14th in conference)
Passing Offense: 196.4 (96, 11)
Total Offense: 325.5 (121, 14)
Scoring Offense: 22.8 (108, 13)
Rushing Defense: 154.5 (52, 9)
Pass Defense: 222.9 (60, 8)
Total Defense: 377.4 (49, 9)
Scoring Defense: 27.9 (77, 12)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (77, 11)
Sacks: 2.08 (67, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (47, 8)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#38 Tre Smith
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#7 Darrell Wright
#21 Wanya Morris
#49 Quavaris Crouch
#51 Henry To'oto'o
#135 Zarielle Green