#28 Tennessee Football 2020 Preview

Tennessee Volunteers
Overall Rank: #28
#7 SEC
 Tennessee Logo
Tennessee started the 2019 season with a 1-4 record. Their lone win came against Chattanooga and there were losses at home to Georgia State and BYU. The Volunteers looked like they were in big trouble. However, Coach Jeremy Pruitt managed to turn things around and Tennessee would only lose once more, and that was to Alabama. The season culminated with a 23-22 victory over Indiana in the Gator Bowl.
2019 Record: 8-5, 5-3
2019 Bowl: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl vs. Indiana (W 23-22)
Coach: Jeremy Pruitt (13-12 at Tennessee, 13-12 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney
Defensive Coordinator: Derrick Ansley, Jimmy Brumbaugh
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ty Chandler, RB, 655 yards
Passing: Jarrett Guarantano, QB, 2,158 yards
Receiving: Josh Palmer, WR, 457 yards
Tackles: Henry To’o To’o, LB, 72
Sacks: Shawn Shamburger, DB, 3.0
Interceptions: Bryce Thompson, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Eric Gray, RB Tim Jordan, QB Brian Maurer, OL Trey Smith, DB Theo Jackson, DL Matthew Butler, DB Alontae Taylor, DB Theo Jackson, LB Kivon Bennett, K Brent Cimaglia
Key Losses: WR Jauan Jennings, WR Marquez Callaway, LB Daniel Bituli, LB Darrell Taylor, DB Nigel Warrior
Jarrett Guarantano was Tennessee’s quarterback last year, throwing for 2,158 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Despite that experience, Guarantano’s starting job is not a sure thing. Brian Maurer and J.T. Shrout each replaced Guarantano in the starting lineup last season and Maryland transfer Kasim Hill adds yet another interesting option. And freshman Harrison Bailey comes to Knoxville with a ton of hype. For now this is Guarantano’s job to lose, but he will need to play better in 2020 if he keeps that job. Whoever is under center will have to find some new targets. Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway are gone after catching 14 of Tennessee’s 19 touchdown passes. Nobody else on the team had more than one. There is talent at wide receiver, but most of it is not proven. Running backs Ty Chandler and Eric Gray could pick up some of the slack. Those two combined to run for 1,194 yards and should be able to do much more in 2020, especially with an experienced offensive line.
Tennessee returns quite a few starters, but the few not returning are huge losses. Daniel Bituli led the team in tackles each of the last three seasons. Also gone are fellow linebacker Darrell Taylor and safety Nigel Warrior. Henry To’o To’o will look to emerge as Tennessee’s top tackler after tallying 72 last season, but that still leaves a hole to fill. Taylor was on the outside of Tennessee’s 3-4 defense and led the team with 8.5 sacks in 2019. Coach Pruitt will need to find a couple new pass rushers. The secondary should be a strong point for the defense yet again in 2020. Shawn Shamburger, Bryce Thompson, Alontae Taylor and Theo Jackson were all productive last season. The hopes are also high for Trevon Flowers and Jaylen McCollough to take a step up this season.
The Bottom Line:
If Tennessee can keep their momentum from last season going, this could be a good year for Tennessee. Beating teams like Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama and Georgia may be asking a little too much, but the Volunteers do have a squad that can beat everybody else on the schedule and at least make those big games interesting. But all that may depend on whether or not the offense can find some consistency and a serious playmaker under center.
Projected Bowl: Texas Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 144.2 (87th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 221.4 (75, 8)
Total Offense: 365.5 (100, 12)
Scoring Offense: 24.2 (98, 11)
Rushing Defense: 140.5 (48, 9)
Pass Defense: 194.0 (16, 4)
Total Defense: 334.5 (23, 6)
Scoring Defense: 21.7 (29, 7)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (70, 10)
Sacks: 2.62 (32, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.62 (32, 6)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#14 Trey Smith
#21 Cade Mays