Problems Mount For Tennessee Football

Tennessee Football's Problems
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What is going on at Tennessee? I’ll be the first to say, I didn’t expect a lot out of Tennessee this season. Slow starts against Appalachian State and Virginia Tech indicated that. I wouldn’t have imagined Butch Jones would’ve knocked off rival Florida for the first time in over a decade. I didn’t believe the Volunteers would end up in the driver’s seat of the SEC East for a time. However, the script has been flipped in a month’s time. Tennessee football’s problems continue to mount as the Vols head into Homecoming this weekend.

Every fan is entitled to their overreactions. Some Tennessee football fans want sudden change after last week’s loss to South Carolina. I want you all to understand that this isn’t a knee jerk reaction to this season. It’s a pattern of events that no sports fan ever wants to see. Or really ever thought they would see, after the success seen from in the first half of this season.

Defense

Defensively, the Volunteers simply cannot shake the same demons that plagued them all of last season. Rico Dowdle ran through this defense like a hot knife through butter. In fact, it appeared that many players had given up on trying to wrap-up the freshman running back.

Jake Bentley, who should still be a high school senior, outgained and outpassed his senior counterpart Joshua Dobbs. Tennessee’s corners appeared unable to disguise their coverages. The Volunteers have fielded a defense that just doesn’t look capable of competing on an SEC field.

No pass rush was generated the last two games, which spells trouble for the secondary. They can’t cover receivers long enough to allow the defensive line to get pressure on the quarterback. Derek Barnett remains one of the deadliest defensive ends in college football, but this isn’t boxing. It takes more than an individual effort to win a football game.

Offense

Tennessee’s offense appeared to be even milder. Only wide receiver Jauan Jennings seemed to have heart in last weekend’s disastrous road loss to the rebuilding Gamecocks. Jalen Hurd looked sluggish and vulnerable. Yes, he may not have been 100%. But he didn’t appear to even be half-trying. Joshua Dobbs didn’t look the part of a seasoned SEC quarterback, either. South Carolina’s true freshman showed more poise in the pocket.

This coaching staff has done a good enough job recruiting sufficient talent. What they haven’t seemed to figure out is how to develop that talent. Now, star running back Jalen Hurd is leaving the Tennessee football program.

Back to the Future?

In no way am I calling for Coach Jones’ head. I’m not suggesting he be fired or step away from the team. However, I do think the era is quickly coming to an end and it will take a different regime to take the Volunteers to the next level. Butch Jones gave a fan base hope when it was desolate. He took Tennessee to heights not seen since the ’90’s in the very same season that the program seemingly flew off the rails.

If Volunteer fans want to get back to where they were two decades ago, they must begin demanding answers instead of settling for moral victories and the attitude of “well I’m still a Tennessee Volunteer.”

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