It’s safe to say there are plenty of questions surrounding Tennessee football this year. That’s normal when a program undergoes a coaching change. Josh Heupel and his staff alone bring that question for the 2021 season.
However, the Vols also have an NCAA investigation going on, which hasn’t concluded yet and got the previous coaching staff fired. They are also undergoing numerous roster changes given all the players who transferred and all the players they added via the portal.
Well, Tennessee football’s roster and coaching changes made up two of the top 10 unanswered questions in the SEC by Brad Crawford of 247Sports. The roster issues in general was one of the questions on its own. Here’s a bit of what he said about that.
"Tennessee’s choice at quarterback this season and the overall effectiveness of the position will go a long way in determining this team’s value during Heupel’s first campaign. Solid production from transfers Hendon Hooker or Joe Milton could disguise some of the holes elsewhere in the roster and get the Vols to bowl eligibility."
Meanwhile, Crawford lumped the coaching change in with other coaching changes, as the question was which new coach would have the most success. He narrowed his list down to Heupel and Bryan Harsin of the Auburn Tigers, eliminating Shane Beamer of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clark Lea of the Vanderbilt Commodores. Here’s a bit of what he said there.
"The Tigers have the more talented roster on the outside looking in, but the Vols lead in the schedule favorability department — by a smidge. It’s hard to imagine any of these four head coaches competing for a spot in the SEC Championship Game this fall and each could take their lumps during what expects to be a challenging campaign for all newcomers."
Of course, Crawford did what many other analysts this year have done and addressed the open competition at quarterback first before discussing the transfers of both running backs and linebacker Henry To’o To’o. All of those have been major storylines in the offseason.
As for the most success in a first season, it’s a bit surprising he even gave Heupel a shot. After all, Auburn is the only team of the four that was any decent last year, and it returns a lot more talent than the Vols do.
That favorable schedule for UT, which includes four home games in non-conference play and the Pittsburgh Panthers as their one Power Five opponent, is definitely a good point that he brought up. However, the talent is still a big question.
What’s clear is that nobody has any idea what to make of Tennessee football this year. The Vols should at least be exciting. Whether or not that excitement translates into any sort of success remains to be seen.