Dennis Dodd is high on the Tennessee football Volunteers as an SEC team.
Nobody’s predicting Tennessee football to win the SEC Championship this year or even the SEC East. However, after a strong finish to last season, a top 10 recruiting class and lots of talent back, lots of people expect significant improvement.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports is one of those people, as he labeled the Vols one of the two candidates to be the league’s “it” team for the 2020 season. This was one of his 10 storylines surrounding the conference as it begins play this weekend.
Joining Tennessee football on this list was another team in the division, the Kentucky Wildcats. Both will be competing to say they are the team that belongs in the upper echelon of that division with the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators. Here’s what Dodd wrote about the Vols.
The Vols finished last season winning six in a row for their best record since 2016. Jeremy Pruitt is killing it in recruiting. But in the SEC (and everywhere), if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance. Jarrett Guarantano has been polarizing as a redshirt senior, and this is his last chance to leave a positive legacy. The top three ballcarriers return. Jim Chaney is still the play caller, and Cade Mays received a long-awaited transfer waiver from the NCAA. (He still needs clearance from the SEC).
Of course, given the fact that a variety of advanced metrics have Rocky Top and UK on similar levels, and given the fact that Jeremy Pruitt’s first defensive coordinator job was following Mark Stoops at the Florida State Seminoles, this rivalry could become heated again. There are too many connections and goals for each team.
Last year, Stoops engineered arguably the greatest coaching job in history. At Kentucky a program that doesn’t bring in a lot of talent, he had to replace almost everybody from a 10-3 team. Then he lost quarterback Terry Wilson Jr. for the year. All he did was put Lynn Bowden Jr. in at quarterback and still, somehow miraculously, get to 8-5 on the year.
Still, Stoops once again lost to UT, just as he did so the year before, as the Vols somehow own the program in Lexington, Ky. regardless of what the records are. That makes this year even more intriguing, though.
Although the South Carolina Gamecocks are also in this race, Tennessee football and Kentucky are fighting hard to be at a higher level than the other school. As a result, just as Dodd said, one of them is going to be the “it” team for this year.