1. Finish season with winning record
Forget a bowl game. Teams can make that now by going 5-7, but it doesn’t mean much. No, the important thing for Tennessee football under Jeremy Pruitt’s first season is to finish with a winning record. That means at least seven wins.
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If the Vols meet the previous two goals, they’ll almost certainly come very close to meeting this one. That’s because beating the Florida Gators, Vanderbilt Commodores and Kentucky Wildcats gets this team three conference wins, and they have three non-conference games against the Charlotte 49ers, UTEP Miners and East Tennessee State Buccaneers.
That gets this team to 6-6. We’re only setting an expectation for them to win one more game, either beating the West Virginia Mountaineers, South Carolina Gamecocks, Missouri Tigers, or their bowl game opponent. How is that unreasonable?
Sure, those three teams are probably better this year. But they are all beatable by a Tennessee team that does have talent. Proper coaching by Pruitt and his staff should allow them to get one of those wins, and if not, then they still have a shot in their bowl game.
Heck, there’s still the chance in a blue moon to maybe upset the Auburn Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs or Alabama Crimson Tide, although that’s highly unlikely. Still, if Pruitt can get those six wins, he’s good enough to upset one of these teams.
These expectations are all fair and reasonable, but Tennessee football players and coaches shouldn’t have them. The goal, even if impossible, should be Pruitt’s, which is to win every game. If they reach for that, they can definitely reach these five goals we have for them here. And that is certainly a good start.