2011 SEC East: Tennessee rising, or division sinking?

It really hadn’t dawned on me to view Tennessee as an up-and-comer in the division this season, but CBS’ Adam Jacobi describes the Vols as a potential sleeper (isn’t that redundant?) team for 2011 and cocknfire labels UT along with South Carolina as the early front-runners to win the SEC East.  Is Tennessee going to be that much improved, or is the division going to be that big a train wreck?

If it’s the former, I’m not sure what the basis for that is.  Last season saw the Vols get waxed by the division big boys – including losses to Georgia and Florida teams which were each school’s weakest in years – and glide through UT’s typically weak November slate.  Had this happened under Fulmer, we’d have yawned and moved on.  So what’s the difference now?

That’s not to say Tennessee doesn’t have a few nice pieces here and there.  Justin Hunter looks to me like he’ll be the next conference superstar wide receiver.  But you can point to nice pieces at every school in the division (okay, except for Vandy).  So, again, I’m genuinely curious:  why the optimism?

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48 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, SEC Football

48 responses to “2011 SEC East: Tennessee rising, or division sinking?

  1. JBJ

    When I look back at their season, all the games they lost were to legitimate teams. Even UGA and UF were playing to potential against the Vols. Dooley stepped in to a rough situation thanks to Kiffin.

    They finished out the season very well with wins over Ole Miss, Vandy, and Kentucky. Say what you will, but all those games make me nervous as a UGA fan these days.

    I don’t know what to make of Dooley yet. I actually like his energy and attitude. If I were a Vol fan, I would be excited about the future. As a UGA fan, well I’m looking forward to 2012.

    • They finished out the season very well with wins over Ole Miss, Vandy, and Kentucky. Say what you will, but all those games make me nervous as a UGA fan these days.

      Say what you will? I don’t know what you mean there. Georgia beat Vandy and Kentucky in more convincing fashion than the Vols did. Not to mention the ass-whuppin’ handed to UT in Athens.

      Being nervous as a Georgia fan these days doesn’t mean you have to put your head completely up your ass.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        I wondered where you disappeared to.

      • JBJ

        Wow such vitriol.

        Senator I think you are losing your objectivity.

        • Right. Vandy and Kentucky results make you nervous, but I’m the one losing my objectivity.

          • JBJ

            Apparently you haven’t been watching UGA football. Anyone that thinks those games are gimmes now is not being objective.

            • C’mon, man.

              You took a post about Tennessee football as an opportunity to do what you’ve done countless times here – bash Richt – with some lame reasoning. Anybody who’s read your commentary here already knows how you feel.

              If you’re worried there won’t be a more direct chance for you to show off your keen insight about everything that’s wrong in Athens and how it can be fixed, relax. I’ll be posting plenty about the program between now and the end of next season. And who knows? Maybe you’ll have the added satisfaction of enjoying another mediocre season and getting your most fervent wish granted.

              • JBJ

                I find it odd that you take my posts so personally. I don’t hide the fact I have lost faith in CMR.

                As a blogger, you should appreciate the fact people take time to read your stuff and comment instead of disparaging them. There are plenty of posts on here where I have said nothing negative about UGA football. I am more than willing to admit if my reasoning is not balanced.

                It is my _opinion_ that UGA football has fallen to the level of Kentucky. We hope to win games against the lower tier of the SEC. If you disagree, then more power to you.

                I think that this article was about optimism of UT on a UGA centric blog. I took it a step further to comment on UGA and optimism in a couple of my sentences. The other points I made about Dooley and UT were ignored by you.

                • Sorry if you’ve taken personal offense to anything I’ve written.

                  My point is, though, as you’ve just acknowledged, you spend a lot of time repeating yourself about this one topic. I don’t have a problem with negativity about Richt or the program per se, but I do object to inserting the same old stuff into unrelated posts and comment threads. It’s boring. And in this particular circumstance, it had the added sin of not being particularly well reasoned, which I why I called you out.

                  I haven’t blackballed you, or attempted to restrict your commenting. But I think it’s a bit much on your part for you to expect me to ignore you when you do this, especially as it’s something I’ve asked my readers and commenters to respect several times previously. If you don’t want me to take shots like this at you in the future, there’s a pretty easy solution to that.

                  • JBJ

                    I respectfully disagree with your assessment of this post and my presence on this blog. Your reasoning is what I find strange.

                    Anyway, I will keep any posts from this point on the topic and off any criticism of the UGA program or CMR if that makes this a better blog. I failed to realize I was acting inappropriately and I apologize.

      • Thinking Bulldog

        This sort of harsh rhetoric has created a climate of violence around here, such that you are just as guilty for Mr. Jacobi’s poor analysis as he is.

      • crapsandwich

        Oh come on Senator, you know the Answer…..isn’t just that Dooley is the sexier pic than Richt or Spurrier? Oh good, our new “star” coach

    • D.N. Nation

      Vandy almost came within 40 points of beating us. I know I was sweating bullets in that fourth quarter.

  2. I share your reservations, but I was very impressed by Bray at the end of the season. UT has the makings for a very nice offense if they can shore up the line.

    I think it’s also worth remembering that this team could have very easily finished 8-5 without the snafu in Baton Rouge and the screw job they got from the refs in the bowl. They got slammed by UF, UGA, and ‘Bama and beaten relatively soundly by USC, but they weren’t as awful as their record suggests.

    • The stats indicate otherwise – the Vols were minus-50 ypg in net yardage in conference games.

      As for Bray, let’s wait and see how he does in months that don’t end in November.

      • Bray’s breakout November came against Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, also known respectively as the 115th-, 81st-, 93d-, and 45th-best defenses in Division I-A. No doubt the kid’s a gamer, and I think he’s going to have a fantastic career, but his QB rating against the dregs of Tennessee’s schedule just barely edged out Aaron Murray’s rating against the Dawgs’ entire 2010 slate.

        • I also thought Bray looked good against USC and UNC. Granted, USC has a terrible pass defense. Anyways, I’m not saying he’s Peyton Manning or that the Vols will win the SEC East next year. But I do think they stand to improve their win total by at least a couple of games. Their overall numbers (the -50 net ypg) indicate their inability to hold up late in games against teams with more depth. That shouldn’t be quite as much of an issue for them next year.

          Of course, as The Senator suggests, this could all be a function of a poor SEC East. I don’t see a clear favorite in the division next year, which leaves the door open for another three-loss champion. I like USC to win it again, but I hardly expect us to run the table with Captain Budweiser back for another up-and-down ride. UGA and UF have their issues, too. Anything could happen, even UT winning it.

    • dudetheplayer

      Murray > Bray

      Georgia’s talent level > UT’s talent level

      The Vols are the last thing we need to be worrying about next season.

  3. Dooms Day Dawg

    From the Vol fans that I know, they look at the the LSU and UNC games as wins. Crazy as it sounds, they are very excited about next season. Yes, the Vols do not know how to close out a game (UNC being the most recent example). However, UT fans believe they will take a step in the right direct next season with Bray under center. Crazy or not, it is what it is. As for the Dawgs, what exactly have we seen to be excited about?

    • Well, for one thing, Aaron Murray had a much better first season than Tyler Bray did, and managed to accomplish that without making an ass out of himself with throat-slash gestures in a game his team eventually lost.

      • They should look at the UNC game as a win. That loss is on the officials. LSU, on the other hand, was their own fault.

        • PhillyDawg

          Explain to me exactly how that loss was handed to them by the officials? I’m tired of hearing this. The officials went back and got the call correct and UT ultimately lost. If you’re arguing over the semantics of the ref calling the game over, get a new argument.

          • First of all, the penalty that UNC received for having too many men on the field should have been a 15-yard penalty for illegal participation, not the 5-yard penalty for illegal substitution which was called. That would have made the kick much harder. Second of all, this would have all been a mute point if the refs hadn’t botched the ending by calling the game over. Due to the penalty, the clock should have started when the ball was set on the next play, and since there was only one second left, time would have run out. That didn’t happen because the refs incompetently called the game over and needed an official review, which stopped the clock.

            BTW, there’s no need to be a dick, man. I know I’m an outsider here, but I’ve always been perfectly civil, even when I’ve presented ideas you disagree with.

      • W Cobb Dawg

        Bray’s throat-slash and the knoxville bar fight lead me to believe UT is just one iota away from a disciplinary disaster that DD can’t sweep under the rug. I don’t see much difference between DD and Kiffin. DD is going to have more troubles, not fewer. Other than a couple exceptions like Hunter, they just don’t have the players. 7 or 8 wins, but not in the sec east hunt.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      The Vol fans I know have always been over the top with the adulation of their team. Dog fans are passionate but a whole lot less forgiving. Next year …who knows? I have never been so glad to put up my dog gear and close out a season as I have this year. The boo-birds have become much too vocal for my own tastes. Go Dogs!

    • Coondawg

      S&C changes are what I am most excited about. Players are already talking about how these recent workouts were the hardest they have ever had here. Discipline, attitude and endurance can be (will it??? I dont know) the things that change a team around.

    • D.N. Nation

      That we’re still better than UT.

  4. TennesseeDawg

    The Vols have very little depth but talent in some positions. Even delusional Tennessee fans aren’t thinking of winning SEC East next year.

  5. NRBQ

    One thing Dooley proved with out doubt in his first season: He’s a spineless opportunist of the first rate, and disciplining Vol players will not be a problem under his watch.

    I hope Vince is proud…

    • 69Dawg

      +1 If his first year is any indication, DD is on his way to having to use his legal training a lot more than his coaches training. It doesn’t get much worst than playing kick the cop, so it seems to be anything goes in the land of the Fulmer Cup. They won’t win it because the Knoxville cops apparently won’t arrest UT players for anything short of armed robbery of a convenience store, but who knows they might just take up drive-by shootings.

      • Macallanlover

        Dooley was quickly indoctrinated into the long, sordid history of Vols, and their fans, accepting anything in the name of all that is Orange. Good thing The aU keeps them out of the cellar. You know the boy was brought up better than that.

  6. Bulldog Joe

    I agree with CBS on this one. Tennessee has the opportunity to go 9-3 or 10-2 next year.

    Tennessee’s non conference schedule is Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Middle Tennessee, all at home.

    They also get South Carolina and Georgia at home, and Arkansas enters their schedule at the right time (with no Mallet).

    With Bray at QB, they are playing with a confidence which was not there with Simms at QB. They need to get improvement in their offensive line and running game in the off season, but their defense and passing game are in good shape. They also need to find a kicker.

    I expect them to be a factor in the very weak East this year.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      10-2 (no way); 9-3 (highly unlikely); 8-4 (probably not); 7-5 (way); 6-6 (most likely). 4 wins against the OOC teams plus Vandy and UK equals 6 wins. Steal one more and they get to 7-5.

  7. Stoopnagle

    Last year is last year.

    I have the same feeling about UT (I mean, I feel like they’ll be improved and in contention).

    Dooley isn’t a bad head coach. He did respectably at La Tech despite the overall record. He had them close in a lot of big games in his first year and that’s cleaning up after Kiffin. For all the recruiting LK did, he left UT pretty bare after one year.

    They’ve settled on Bray and the odds are he’ll improve and mature as a QB. He was a true frosh and by their bowl game he was playing pretty well, throat slashing and all.

    Texas wanted their DC, so they must be doing something right on that side of the ball too.

    I think Tennessee has as good a chance as any team to win the east. Florida is starting over and revamping the entire offense. South Carolina looks like the favorite. And Georgia… well, we just lost to a CUSA team in a bowl game and suffer from a major case of “bitch mentality.” We’re still in it, but I’m hard pressed to feel good about the ’11 season. If Justin Houston decides to come back, if we close on Signing Day, if we don’t waste practice time with a pool party. . . a whole lotta ifs . . . I might feel better.

  8. Jaybird

    Senator, I’m leaning toward train wreck…kinda like this past year. The west is just too strong right now. And don’t overlook Arky’s back up qb…kid is good.

  9. Reptillicide

    Buncha negative nancies.

  10. Uglydawg

    Two big elements in winning are desire and talent. Almost everyone has some talent. Almost everyone has some desire….It’s the coaches that know how to coach desire into a team that become champions. It’s hard to do. I’ve had coaches tell me it can’t be done (coaching, or instilling desire) on an individual level, but it can be done on a team level. The individual either has it or he doesn’t. Gobbledygook? Maybe, but I attribute the success UT had this year and their potential for success next year to the fact that they do have a great level of desire. Same with Boise and some of the other programs (see UCF vs UGA). Now Georgia has something to prove. I believe they will rise to the challenge. A lot of what happened last year can be attributed to coaching, coaching changes, wierd luck, suspensions, etc….but I believe the problems are shallow enough that CMR can see them and will address them.
    A lot of folks seem to be writing off UGA for the East in 11. I think they will win it….Tide in the West will win it all….

  11. Top 10 reasons to hate the Steelers: 1. Big Ben- 1 Pa NFL qb kills dogs,the other would rape them first. 2-The Jaw- Bill Cowman is arrogant & ugly. 3.the players look like they belong in the Creature canteena of Starwars. 4. there are never any babes at home games. 5.the fans- obnoxious , stupid, loud. 6.i have been a Browns fan since the days of jim brown ( the best rb ever) 7- have u ever been to Pittsburgh- think detroit without the glamor 8. they get every break from the zebras 9 half the people in pitts are originally from West Va. 10 those garish, yet plugugly uniforms. 11. bonus – the terrible towel thing is really weak. hines ward is the dirtyest player nfl.