#38 Tennessee Football 2012 Preview

Tennessee Volunteers

2012 Overall Rank: #38
#10 SEC
Tennessee College Football 2012 Team Preview
Tennessee Team Page


After the Lane Kiffin debacle in Knoxville, Derek Dooley, son of coaching legend Vince Dooley, came in 2010 and has been trying to return Tennessee to the upper echelon of the SEC.  The Volunteers were consistently ranked under former coach Philip Fulmer.  When he hit some dry patches, he was let go.  Since his departure, the Volunteers have not been the same.  The 2011 season was a forgettable year for Dooley and his team.  They ended with the second worst conference record.  Dooley has had success at smaller schools.  He will need to win soon if he wants to right the ship…and retain his job.

2011 Record: (5-7)
2011 Bowl: None
Coach: Derek Dooley (11-14 at Tennessee, 28-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney
Defensive Coordinator: Sal Sunseri

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marlin Jane Jr., RB, 280 yards
Passing: Tyler Bray, QB, 1,983 yards
Receiving: Da’Rick Rogers, WR, 1,040 yards
Tackles: A.J. Johnson, LB, 80
Sacks: Prentiss Waggner, DB, 1.5
Interceptions: Prentiss Waggner, DB, 2; Eric Gordon, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: LB Curt Maggitt, WR Justin Hunter, LB Curt Maggitt, DB Brian Randolph

Key Losses: RB Tauren Poole, LB Austin Johnson, DE Malik Jackson

Tennessee’s one saving grace was its pass defense.  Prentiss Waggner and Eric Gordon were leaders all over the defensive backfield last season.  They will certainly be relied on to do the same in the coming year.  Waggner led the team in sacks and interceptions (along with Gordon).  His tackling totals will probably have to increase this season after losing linebacker Austin Johnson.  Together those two led the unit in holding opponents to only 177 yards per game.  That put them 12th in the country.  The quality of their pass defense led them to a top 30 overall defense, only allowing 340.5 yards per game.  

The Vols were bad in almost every other area on the field.  They were one of the worst teams in the country in rushing, scoring, yardage, and sacking the quarterback.  They averaged only 90 yards on the ground per game.  Last year’s leading rusher, Tauren Poole, only gained 693 total yards.  A top flight Division I program ought to be able to produce more than that.  It also does you no favors in a defense heavy league like the SEC.  They ranked dead last in that category.  Typically, it is a low scoring league, but Tennessee barely scored over 20 points per game.  They gave up an average of 22 points per game.  It is difficult to win when you are fighting to hold teams under 20 points.  They also need to apply more pressure.  They averaged 1.33 sacks per game, second to last in the conference.

The Bottom Line:
The Tennessee faithful will most likely be watching games with bated breath.  After finishing 1-7 in the SEC last year, the only way to go is up.  However, it will not be easy.  Returning quarterback Tyler Bray looks like a solid SEC signal caller.  He will improve and his numbers will need to increase to carry the offense.  The number one question on this team is which back will carry the load in the backfield?  They could not generate anything on the ground in 2011.  They will find themselves at the bottom of the league if they cannot turn that around.  Dooley is getting his players in the program, and he is a respected coach.  But he needs to start winning.  The 2012 season might not be the year they turn things around.  Look for five or six wins again this coming season.

Projected Bowl:  BBVA Compass Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 90.08 (116th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense:  242.58 (50, 3)
Total Offense: 332.67 (104, 9)
Scoring Offense: 20.33 (106, 10)
Rushing Defense: 162.67 (69, 8)
Pass Defense: 177.83 (12, 6)
Total Defense: 340.50 (28, 7)
Scoring Defense: 22.58 (36, 9)
Turnover Margin: .00 (T59, 9)
Sacks: 1.33 (100, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 1.50 (40, 3)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#4 Tyler Bray
#60 Justin Hunter
#66 Da'Rick Rogers

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Recruit Rankings:
#90 LaDarrell McNeil
#159 Drae Bowles
#210 Danny O'Brien
#219 Jason Croom
#226 Davante Bourque
#247 Deion Bonner