5. Changes everywhere on special teams
As if all the changes weren’t enough, Tennessee football is looking for new starters all over the field on special teams. One major plus in Butch Jones’s favor was his focus here, and he used guys like Alvin Kamara, Cameron Sutton and especially Evan Berry to make this unit a major advantage for the Vols.
All of those guys were gone by midway through last year. Meanwhile, Aaron Medley was not great but automatic on field goals within 40 yards. He is also gone. And one of the biggest mismatches who contributed to the Punter U tradition, Trevor Daniel, is also gone.
So just on kicking alone, there are questions. Brent Cimaglia showed flashes last year and was actually really good when called upon for a freshman. But he’s got to battle with Michigan Wolverines graduate transfer Ryan Tice for the starting place-kicker job.
Meanwhile, Daniel’s departure leaves a major whole in punting. He single-handedly won a couple of games for the Vols. Paxton Brooks is the favorite to win that job, but he’s just a freshman. So there’s no way of knowing what will happen there. About the only part of special teams that is set is the long-snapper position. Riley Lovingood is proven there on punts, and Elijah Medford is proven on field goals.
Everything else, though, is up in the air. And that’s a major issue for a team that already has enough questions with a coaching change. So watching this unit alone might be worth grabbing your popcorn for.