There is quite a bit of excitement around the Tennessee Volunteers as the 2013 season approaches. Gone is Derek Dooley, who had a disappointing three-year stint in Knoxville before being dismissed last season.
In his place is new head coach Butch Jones, formerly the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Central Michigan Chippewas. While he wasn’t the first choice to be the Vols’ new head coach, Jones has quickly established himself as a fan favorite. His demeanor and recruiting remind the Orange-clad fans of the old days on Rocky Top.
And while Jones is putting his stamp on the program, the upcoming season could be tough for the Vols. The schedule is daunting, and with a new quarterback running a new system, there could be plenty of glitches this fall. The quarterback question looms large, with Joshua Dobbs, Nathan Peterman and Justin Worley all in the mix for playing time.
Whoever the quarterback is, they will have a couple of games to get acclimated before the toughest part of the schedule hits. Tennessee opens with home games against Austin Peay and Western Kentucky, which should help Jones and the new signal caller get their feet wet.
Game three is another story. Tennessee hits the road to face the Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. The Ducks figure to be in the national title picture once again this year, and this trip will be a tough one on the Vols.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Tennessee’s next game could be even tougher, as the Vols head to the Swamp to face the Florida Gators.
Game five should be a breather, as South Alabama visits Knoxville. However, games six through eight will be another brutal stretch.
The Georgia Bulldogs visit Neyland Stadium on Oct. 5. After a week off, the Vols then host the South Carolina Gamecocks on Oct. 19. The next week, Tennessee hits the road to face the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
In the regular season finale, Tennessee visits the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington.
While there are five really tough games on the schedule, Jones and company should be able to find enough wins to get the Vols back to the postseason for the first time in three seasons. If Tennessee can find a way to beat three of the four weaker SEC opponents on the schedule (Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Kentucky), that will be enough to get to six wins, which will be enough to keep Vols’ fans happy…at least for now.