At 4-6, the Vols are in the neighborhood of where we thought they’d be at this point.
I was expecting them to be at 5-5, but I also wasn’t counting on Auburn and Missouri being the teams they’ve turned out to be this season.
If Butch Jones can guide his team to victory in their next two games, getting the Vols to bowl eligibility, then you’d have to consider his first season a pretty big success.
If he wins the bowl game and the Vols finish with a winning record for the first time since 2009, then that turns into a HUGE success.
So if the the Vols finish the 2013 season on a strong note, what should we then expect from them in 2014?
That’s a hard question to answer.
Unfortunately we probably shouldn’t expect a whole lot more — at least not in 2014.
I know what you’re thinking — the Vols are recruiting out of this world right now.
That’s absolutely true, but we’ll still be talking about true freshmen.
On top of that, the Vols are going to lose most, if not all, of their offensive line. Even though they haven’t played up to their potential this season, it’ll still be a massive loss.
The Vols will be improved — there’s no doubt about that — but they’ll still be a very young team.
Plus there’s another very daunting schedule that looms.
Let’s run through that schedule very quickly.
The Vols obviously win this one and jump out to a 1-0 record.
Another obvious win for the Vols. (2-0)
The Sooners are just a two-loss team this season. Who knows what they’ll be next year. The Vols may end up having a chance in this game, but based off right now you have to mark it as a loss. (2-1)
The Bulldogs will regroup, get healthy and be fine. Tennessee’s showed they can beat them, but it’s still a road game. I’m not saying they won’t win in Athens, but based off a quick look at the schedule we have to give them an L. (2-2)
This will be a toss up game as well. I’ll actually give the Vols the benefit of doubt here and give them a W. (3-2)
Another obvious win (4-2)
The Vols have yet to prove they can win on the road. Until they do it’s hard to assume they’ll win any conference game on the road. (4-3)
It’s at home I know, but it’s not happening. Not yet at least. (4-4)
Again, until the Vols prove they can win on the road, I just can’t give them a win. (4-5)
They’ll definitely win this game and get back to .500 (5-5)
This will be another toss up game, but I’ll go ahead and give the Vols a win at home. (6-5)
I will give them a win on the road here, but they still have to prove they can beat a quality opponent on the road (7-5)
Obviously it’s way too early to predict games, but even with giving the Vols a win against two teams they lost against this season, it only leaves us with a record of 7-5.
I do think the 2014 Vols will be capable of winning more than 7 games, but even with a top recruiting class coming in, it won’t be a guarantee.
2015 — in my opinion — will be the season that Vol fans have been waiting a very long for.
I know it’s frustrating, but Tennessee is heading in the right direction and they’re doing it the right way.
There’s no reason to be down if you’re a Vol fan, even after three straight losses.
Vol fans will soon be reaping the rewards of their patience.