If I told you that in 2012, the Volunteers averaged 36.2 points per
game, had a Quarterback who accounted for 3612 yards, 268 completions
and 34 touchdowns, a receiver with 1083 yards, would you believe me if
I told you that they were not even bowl eligible? Amazingly, they
ended the 2012 season 5-7, 1-5 in the SEC and 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams.
The SEC-East games that the Vawls lost came by an average margin of 5
points. The Vawl defense allowed an average of 35.6 points per game.
In other words, the Vawls couldn’t stop a spit ball if they wanted to.
Tennessee had wins vs. NC State, Georgia State, Akron, Troy and
Kentucky. NC State was a decent win… but the rest… nothing to
write home to the hillbillies about. As a result, the Vawls make
another change at the top replacing Derek Dooley with Butch Jones who
is 50-27 overall as a head coach at Central Michigan and Cincinnati.
Let’s face it, this isn’t the hire they really wanted. In all
likelihood, Jones was never on the original list of candidates and he
was the only guy with any sort of experience who actually wanted the
job. Jones probably should have looked at the schedule before
deciding to take this job, because he is going to probably have a
rough inaugural season as head coach in the SEC and with very little
depth and no real experience at QB.
8/31 Austin Peay
The Governors went 2-9 in Division II. Even the Vawls should have an
easy go with this game. Vawls by 36.
After a nice warm up, the Vawls welcome a familiar face in Bobby
Petrino as the new head coach of the Hilltoppers. He replaces Willie
Taggart who bolted his alma mater to take over the reins at South
Florida. Petrino takes over a team who went 7-6 averaged 28.2 points
per game and allowed an average of 25.5 points per game in 2012 with
the most notable win over Kentucky, if you consider that notable with
the season that Kentucky had. Speaking of Kentucky, Tennessee will be
the second SEC-East team in a row that the Hilltoppers will face to
open the 2013 season. I suspect Jones will put special attention on
the defensive side of the ball while he continues his search for a QB.
Petrino pulls out a close one in Knoxville. Hilltoppers over the
Hillbillies by 6.
After a heartbreaking loss and now the Vawls are being asked to travel
2500 miles to face one of the most prolific offenses averaging 49.6
points per game and a decent defense allowing only 21.6 points per
game. Ouch. The Ducks lost 1 game last year vs. Stanford in overtime
by 3 points. They demolished Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Cal,
Oregon State and Kansas State 37-17 in the Fiesta Bowl. Basically,
they weren’t even close. And a Vawl team with no experience at QB and
a defense that allowed 35.7 points per game is gonna have to face this
Oregon team. Yyyyeeeaaaa… its gonna be a lonnnnng loonnnngggg ride
home for the Hillbillies. Give them credit for scheduling this game
though. Oregon by 40 (and it may be double that before it’s over).
9/21 @THE FLORIDA GATORS
After about 5000 miles of travel and likely a beat down of epic
proportions, the Hillbillies hit the road again this time to the
Promised Land to face THE FLORIDA GATORS who have owned this series
since 2005. Since 2005, the Gators have slapped the Vawls in the face
by an average margin of 15 points. Though they Vawl Offensive Line is
projected to be a strength of the team, they have to face a Defensive
Line that some believe will be one of the best in the entire country.
The Gator offense should be better prepared and coached in year 2
under Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease and QB Jeff Driskel. Gator RB
Matt Jones will have a big big day. Gators by 14.
9/28 South Alabama
After the last three games, the Vawls are probably begging for a bit
of a break. Luckily for them, South Alabama who went 2-11 with a Sun
Belt schedule and only beat Nicholls State by 6 points makes a visit
to KnoxVegas. Vols should get back on track with a win by 27.
Since 2008, the winner of this SEC-East rivalry has won by an average
margin of 16 points. The Mutt defense was lauded a little more than
they probably should have been. They allowed 478 yards and 44 points
to the Vawls in 2012. Now that the Slobberhounds have lost a lot of
talent to the NFL and Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter are gone there are
lots of question marks all over this game. In the end, the Leghumpers
are much deeper and more talented and should pull away in the 4th
quarter. Mutts by 20.
10/12 OPEN DATE
10/19 South Carolina
Just after completing a fairly brutal stretch of games, the Vols get a
week off to rest up, work out some of the kinks just in time for
another fairly brutal stretch of games. This stretch they welcome the
Gamecocks home who also faced their fair amount of competition in
North Carolina, @Jawjuh, Vandy, @UCF, Kentucky, and @Arkansas and
likely only 1 loss on the board. Like most other teams, the Vawls
will face this season; the Gamecocks are much deeper on both sides of
the ball, perhaps one of the deepest teams in the entire SEC. Since
2008, the Vawls have managed 1 win in this divisional series and the
winner by an average of 13 points per game. In 2012, the Gamecocks
lost 2 games to @LSU and @THE FLORIDA GATORS and managed a 3 point win
over the Vawls. Even though the Gamecocks have to make the road trip…
I am giving depth and experience the edge in this game. Cocks by 14.
By now, that sound you hear is probably Butch Jones and the Vawls
begging for a break and maybe even mercy. Now they hit the road again
to face defending National Champions and the statistically best
defense in the entire country Alabama Crimson Tide. This
cross-divisional rivalry hasn’t really been much of a rivalry at all
since Bama has dominated and won by an average margin of 23 points.
Even in 2012, the Vawls only managed 282 yards of offense and all but
79 yards of that was through the air. Like a lot of teams in the SEC,
Bama lost a lot of talent… but they are in a good place and just say
“next up”. The Tide probably has the most depth of any team in the
entire country. Tide by 24.
1039 yards of offense, 52 first downs, 99 points and 4 overtimes and
the winner of the game by 3 points. Essentially, neither team could
stop the other. In a sense, 2013 both teams are looking for a fresh
start and both looking to be bowl eligible. Before the Vawls head to
Columbia, the Tigers will have faced Murray State, Toledo, @Indiana,
Arkansas State, @Vanderbilt, @Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and
likely 1 game away from their goal of bowl eligibility. Unfortunately
for the Vawls, they have to face yet another team who has more depth
and experience in existing systems even though they are likely
starting to find their way. No overtime needed this year. Tigers by
The Hillbillies stay home to face yet another brand of Tigers as
Auburn pays a visit to Knoxville. If these teams had played in 2012,
the Vawls probably would have won this game by 14 points. Both teams
were terrible, but at least Tennessee could score some points. That’s
probably why Chizik is out and Malzahn returns to Auburn this time as
head coach after a short stint at Arkansas State. It doesn’t even
make sense to compare these teams to their 2012 counterparts because
both were dreadful (except the Tennessee offense). Auburn does return
a QB who was recruited and is familiar with Malzahn’s offense and has
a good amount of tools at his disposal that fit his systems.
Tennessee, even by November, is still working to find playmakers and
build depth. WarKitties by 13.
11/16 OPEN DATE
There is probably four words the Hillbilly Nation is sick of hearing.
Vanderbilt. Commodores. James. Franklin. That’s probably because a
team that you have owned for over 3 decades beat you 41-18 in
Nashville. Tyler Bray picked a really bad time to have a bad day last
year. But that was last year. Since then, James Franklin continues
to recruit well and feed off the momentum of the last few years. The
Vols are also looking to get back on track and back to their winning
ways. Franklin and Vandy won’t have the luxury of ill prepared and
undisciplined teams even with their soft schedule. Tennessee will be
looking for a bit of revenge and take back ownership of the state.
Vols and Butch Jones by 7.
There may be one team in the SEC who actually had a worse 2012 than
the Vawls and Auburn. And like both of those teams, Kentucky was the
one conference game they managed to get a W. Naturally, they fired
their head coach and welcome in FSUcks Defensive Coordinator Mark
Stoops as Head Wildcat. The battle of the coaches with a scowl on
their face! Stoops has recruited well, and he’s a helluva defensive
coordinator, but the Wildcats have a much much bigger hill to climb
than the Hillbillies. Butch Jones and the Vawls get another SEC win
Wooooo WEEEE… ya think Butch Jones will hear it if the Vawls don’t go
bowling again in 2013 and have a worse record in 2013 than 2012? I
may actually listen into Knoxville Sports Radio just for the pure
entertainment. The fact is, they have a long way to go and are likely
to go 4-8 in 2013. Butch Jones is recruiting well and many believe he
is the guy that can get the program back on track. The Hillbillies
will need to be patient and maybe ask Jack Daniels to provide a vast
supply of their famous elixir to help the Vawls through the next
couple of seasons.