The Tennessee Volunteers are rebuilding after losing their best players (Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson) and their head coach (Derek Dooley) last season. Now, the Butch Jones coaching era begins for the Volunteers. How the Volunteers play in their first three games of the season will determine how the rest of the season plays out for Tennessee.
The Volunteers play Austin Peay in Knoxville for the first game of the season. This should be an easy win for Tennessee, and will give a needed boost to this young team’s confidence before they start to get into the tougher opponents on their schedule.
In the second game of the season, Tennessee will face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Western Kentucky is now coached by Bobby Petrino, and this makes them dangerous. Tennessee cannot get too comfortable or they could get beaten.
The third and most important game of the Volunteers’ season will be in Eugene, OR, against the Oregon Ducks. Oregon will crush Tennessee, but the fight that they put up, even in a loss, could show if this team has what it takes to make a bowl game.
Tennessee is not going to have a great season — they are far too young to compete with the top teams in the SEC. However, they do have enough talent to make it to a bowl game. Their first three games of the season will show whether the Volunteers are going to give up against good teams like last season, or if they have become a new, confident team that Tennessee fans can be proud to watch.