Season two of the Butch Jones era begins on Sunday, August 31, 2014 as Team 118 takes on the Utah State Aggies. The season opener in Neyland Stadium will be televised on the new SEC Network at 7 P.M.
Tennessee finished last season 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the 3rd consecutive season, however progress is being made on Rocky Top. Butch Jones and his staff secured a top 5 recruiting class and there is cause for optimism and hope for the Volunteer faithful.
Senior Justin Worley and Sophomore Joshua Dobbs will compete to be the starting QB for this opener. Last season, Worley won the job and gave way to Dobbs after an injury ended his season. Dobbs finished out the season and showed flashes at times, but also struggled to find the end zone. This season, the QBs will have plenty of weapons around them, despite having a brand new offensive line protecting them.
The Aggies welcome back their versatile, dual-threat QB Chuckie Keeton, who tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee last season. Keeton is one of the most exciting and electrifying players in the country and the Vols defense will have their hands full with him alone.
Coming off a 9-5 season, 2nd year coach Matt Wells returns 15 starters from a team that played in the Mountain West Championship game. With the return of Keeton to an offense that broke several school records last season, Utah St. will look to compete for a conference championship again this season.
The Vols will likely head into this game as the favorite, as well they should. Despite their struggles as of late, UT is still an SEC program playing at home against a mid-major opponent. Tennessee’s overall speed and depth will be much improved and Utah St will have to contend with the Tennessee game day atmosphere. Prediction: A close game at halftime will see the Vols pull away in the 2nd half to win 34-17. Vols will host Arkansas State in week 2.