The Vols take on East Tennessee State inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday and our staff predicted the outcome of the game for your reading (and gambling) pleasure.
According to Las Vegas, Tennessee is currently a 37.5-point favorite and the over/under is 51.5. Let’s get to it…
Celina Summers (@CelinaSummers):
It’s week two, and this is traditionally the time of year when the Tennessee Volunteers have a couple of smaller foes and begin what is essentially a two-week preparatory period for the Florida Gators who, as usual, kicked their season off right with the mighty Sister Mary Ignatius’s Knitting School’s (aka Charleston Southern) football program as their inaugural foes. 2018-2019 is no different, and after a solid trouncing by No. 14 West Virginia last week, we can expect to see what Vols fans usually see in week two–lots of players seeing the field in a comfortable victory for the first home crowd in Neyland to enjoy. I do wonder if Coach Pruitt will permit his staff to experiment a little with the playbook, which could be fun. While I would assume his former employers would have never considered such a thing, Pruitt’s situation is a bit different. He needs to find out what works, safely, as opposed to what doesn’t work disastrously. With an early line of 37.5, don’t expect a close contest with the FCS Buccaneers. No need to see Coach Randy Sanders in his skivvies! Just a nice, friendly game of ball in one of the most intimidating stadiums in college football.
John Monroe (@MinisterofD):
After a rough opening game to Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure, the Vols get a little bit of a break as they head back home to face the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. If nothing else, the resurgence of the Buccaneers football program makes for a cool story especially when you consider that University of Tennessee athletic director Philip Fulmer helped pave the way for football to return to Johnson City. This game will have little more than an exhibition game atmosphere as there is no real bad blood between the two schools and there are many fans, especially in the Northeast Tennessee area, that are fans of both universities. The biggest takeaway in this game for the Vols will be who stays healthy and how the offensive line works with center Brandon Kennedy now out for the season. This game gives the Vols a chance to get the bad taste of last week out of their mouths, get some younger players some much-needed playing time, and have a little fun with a nearby school, that’s much more friend than foe, at the same time. Look for the Vols to get ahead early and coast to the win.
Jordan Burns (@VolSportsTalkJB):
Last week went about as bad as you could ask for Tennessee. They simply could not stop the highly-powered air attack from West Virginia. They were as good as advertised, as Will Grier and co. picked apart the Vols secondary, en route to a 40-14 stomping.
Right now, fans are down in the dumps. I’ve heard a lot of fans express that they don’t feel that Tennessee will ever be elite again. It’s as if they’ve lost hope. But, you can go ahead and throw all those worries away for this week. It’s understandable for Vol fans to be frustrated, but it needs to be noted that Tennessee will not face an offense like that again all season. Period.
This week should be the start of some relief, as former Tennessee OC/QB coach Randy Sanders and ETSU trot into Neyland Stadium on Saturday for Tennessee’s home opener.
Yes, I know, there’s not a whole lot of excitement for this matchup, but it does give the Vols a much-needed boost in morale, as they should blow ETSU out with ease. This game also gives Tennessee a chance to work out some kinks in the secondary and fix up the o-line some. ETSU, while they will be severely outmatched, does possess two stout defensive ends, Nasir Player and Jason Muduafokwa. They will give Tennessee’s tackles plenty of good skill sharpening. In week one against Mars Hill, Player and Muduafokwa combined for four QB hurries and Player had 1.5 sacks and 2 TFL.
ETSU also has a very good quarterback in Logan Marchi. He will test Tennessee’s corners, without a doubt. The Vols are certainly more talented than ETSU, but the Bucs will likely give Alontae Taylor and co. fits at some point. Again, this will be a chance to sharpen up on skills, while also not really risking a loss in the process.
Tennessee also needs to work on its run game. Tim Jordan had a great day toting the rock against WVU, but a lot of it was his own doing. He broke 12 tackles against West Virginia, having to cut and stiff-arm his way through the defense. The Vols, however, did lose Alabama Grad Transfer C Brandon Kennedy for the season with a leg injury. So, Tennessee may struggle a bit in the middle of the line at first but should find their groove eventually.
In a nutshell, while ETSU may give Tennessee fits in the first few series on both sides of the ball, Tennessee will run away with this one. I fully expect the back-ups to be on the field in the third quarter.
Matthew Dossett (@MatthewD9999):
Time for Tennessee to get up off the mat and turn their attention to the East Tennessee State Bucs. This should be a contest where Jeremy Pruitt works out the kinks. In an ideal world, Tennessee will get a stranglehold on the game early, allowing the starters to get rest and let the bench players get the opportunity to shine.
If Tennessee is not able to push ETSU around from the get-go, there is a serious problem looming. I’ll be looking for the o-line to enforce their will on ETSU’s defensive front. With center Brandon Kennedy likely out for the season, Pruitt may tinker with the line, shifting players around to find the best fit.
All eyes should be on Keller Chryst when he sees the field Saturday. After all, Chryst is one Guarantano injury away from being the guy for the Volunteers. Vol fans just need to cross their fingers that no serious injuries occur. Let’s face it, the next two games for the Vols give Jeremy Pruitt time to get all his ducks in a row before Florida comes to Knoxville.
Vols dominate in this one.
Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris):
After a thrashing last week, Tennessee gets a couple of tune-up games before taking on Florida in week four of the 2018 season. First up is East Tennessee State, who will be led by head coach and former Vols offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. So, that’s fun.
This game will be used to work toward fixing what ailed the Vols in Charlotte. Hone in the play of the defensive backs, build the confidence of Tennessee’s edge rushers, figure out the best configuration for the offensive line now that Brandon Kennedy is out for the year with a knee injury. Just sharpen everything up because it’s clearly not at the level that it needs to be.
The Big Orange should win big.