Reasons for Optimism in 2020

#1

DiderotsGhost

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#1
Battered Vol Syndrome is real and we already know that several posters are going to make snarky comments about the idea that we could possibly improve next year. Nevertheless, I’m going to make the overwhelming obvious case that our roster should be in better shape for 2020 than it is in 2019.

For the record, I was never optimistic about this season. Most of the optimism was coming from the inaccurate idea that good coaches always turn things around in Year 2. History has not shown this to be the case. Rather, it's very context-dependent.

Great coaches who have inherited very strong rosters have turned things around in Year 2; examples include Nick Saban at Alabama, Pete Carroll, Kirby Smart, and Bob Stoops. However, coaches that have inherited deeper rebuilds or more problematic rosters have often taken till Year 3, Year 4, or Year 5 to have consistent results. Examples include Dabo Swinney (Year 4 / Year 5) Frank Beamer (Year 7), Barry Alvarez (Year 4), Nick Saban at Michigan State (Year 5), Mike Leach at Wash State (Year 4), and Bill Snyder (Year 5).

I don't know if Jeremy Pruitt is a great head coach or not yet. I know he inherited a terrible situation on both lines. I know he's a great developer of talent. I know he's a great DC. We'll have to wait and see if he's a good head coach. However, I also know that, assuming we can land a good recruiting class, 2020 looks much better on paper. This isn't some far-fetched idea; I said this even before this season started.

Here are the reasons why:


1. The O-line can be elite

First off, let's not forget that we had the worst O-line in all P5 conferences in 2017 and 2018. The SEC is a line of scrimmage league. You cannot win without a strong LOS and some depth at the line positions. Butch Jones left us in horrible shape on both lines.

Pruitt went out and landed the best O-line class in the nation last year. But these guys are still true Freshmen in a league where true Freshmen rarely start on the line. O-line play has improved significantly in a few short months, but we're still seeing a lot of "Freshman mistakes". Yet, here's what our OL could look like next year:

Wanya Morris
Darnell Wright
Jahmir Johnson
Ryan Johnson
Jerome Carvin
Jackson Lampley
Chris Akporoghene
Marcus Tatus
K'Rojhn Calbert

If we're very lucky, we get Trey Smith back for another year, though I suspect he'll explore the draft. Add a few more recruits and I think this has the makings of an elite O-line. We're already seeing improved results this year. It takes awhile to rebuild an O-line, but I think 2020 is the year we start to see the results.


2. D-line depth will be much improved

D-line is a major weakness right now, as well. At the beginning of the season, I predicted that this would hold us back and that we’d be lucky to win 6 or 7 games. I never expected to lose to Georgia State, but nevertheless, the stats for our D-line were ugly even before the season.

Teams like Bama and Georgia run 14 or 15 deep at D-line. We run maybe 9 deep tops. And we lost our starting Nose Tackle (Emmit Gooden) before the season started. Anyone who thought we’d have an elite defense with our D-line problems was being delusional.

Unfortunately, unlike the O-line, I don’t think we have the makings of an elite D-line just yet. That said, D-line should nevertheless be much improved next season. For starters, while losing Gooden was a blow for this season, it means we have better depth next year.

Our roster includes:

Emmit Gooden
Aubrey Solomon
LaTrell Bumphus
Matthew Butler
Kurott Garland
Elijah Simmons

Simmons has been very impressive in practice, but he’s a true Freshman and I think the coaches want to redshirt him, but he should be in full action next year. Simmons will be one of the few players on the roster who will actually be a great fit at NT. We also add blue-chip recruits BJ Ojulari and Dominic Bailey. Hopefully, we can land a few other blue-chippers on the D-line, such as Jay Hardy and Tyler Baron. If we can do that, the future will look much brighter on the D-line as well.

Regardless, this is probably the worst D-line we’ll see in the Jeremy Pruitt era. It'll be better next year; not elite, but perhaps good.


3. More options at Quarterback

I admit that I didn’t expect JG to regress this badly this season. Even if JG plays like he did last year, we’re 3-2 right now. But it is what it is.

Even before the season, I was concerned about QB depth. Behind JG sat 2 Freshmen, neither of which looked ready to play just yet. But we’re playing a true Freshman now with Brian Maurer.

Personally, I think Maurer was the steal of the 2019 class (along with Quavaris Crouch). He had a monster Senior season in high school and played for a bad team; hence he was underrated as a 3-star. But you all saw his potential against Georgia. He’s still got a long way to go (as the 2nd half showed), but we’ll get better at QB.

Not only will Maurer be more experienced next year, we add transfer Kasim Hill, and blue-chip recruit Harrison Bailey. Moreover, JT Shrout will have some more experience as well. Overall, while I don’t necessarily expect us to be elite at QB in 2020, we’ll have much more in the way of options; and all of those options should be better than they are right now.


4. Elite Starting Linebackers

While we now have some depth issues at linebacker, we have some real studs in Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch. Both are true Freshmen. Both are going to be very very good. Add in another Freshman, Roman Harrison, who shows some huge potential, and we have the makings of some elite LBs. We just need more of them.


5. Elite DBs

Bryce Thompson is a shut-down corner. Alontae Taylor has struggled at times this season, but he’s still one of the best Sophomore DBs in the SEC. Warren Burrell is still a true Freshman and will only get better with time. We look in good shape at CB. We’ll have to see how things shake out at the Safety positions next season, but our top-rated recruit in the 2020 right now is Safety Keshawn Lawrence.


Reasons for Pessimism

Alright, I gave the reasons for optimism, but here are some things I am concerned about next season.

1. Lack of depth at LB

This wasn’t an issue “on the radar” before a few weeks ago, but with Will Ignont and Shannon Reid transferring, coupled with Jeremy Banks being dismissed, we now have serious depth issues at LB. We also lose Darrell Taylor and Daniel Bituli next season.

We do have several guys with the potential to be elite as LBs in Henry To’o To’o, Quavaris Crouch, and Roman Harrison, but we need many more to survive in the SEC. This is also, unfortunately, the area where it looks like our recruiting is suddenly struggling. Hopefully Pruitt and his staff figure things out and land a few more guys with potential to be elite here, but regardless, depth may be an issue in 2020.


2. Replacing Jennings and Callaway

We lose 2 NFL quality Wide Receivers in Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway. While we have some up-and-comers on the roster, this is going to be one of those scenarios where it’s almost impossible to replace these 2 guys immediately, so expect us to take a step backward at WR next year. That said, hopefully guys like Remel Keyton, Cedric Tillman, and Deangelo Gibbs can step up.


3. Help at Running Back?

We may or may not lose Ty Chandler to the draft. If we get him back next year, that’s a huge coup. If not, Eric Gray is going to have to be “the man”. Gray is very promising, but it would be nice to have some more depth behind him and Tim Jordan; can’t say I feel comfortable with where we are at RB in 2020 without either a top-notch recruit or Chandler returning.


Overall

While I expected us to sneak into a bowl game this year, I never expected us to be good. I'm disappointed by the losses to Ga State and BYU (and couldn't have seen the former happening), but I can also see we're getting better. We won't compete for the SEC title next year, but I suspect we'll take a big step forward.

As much as people hate the "youth" excuse, it's true. Butch Jones used that excuse even during his 4th and 5th seasons, which is why I think people are annoyed when they hear it now, but it's true in 2019 (it wasn't in 2016).

The real key here is whether Pruitt can continue adding big-time recruits to this team. If he does that, we'll be in much better shape in 2020 and 2021. And let's hope we can win a few down the stretch in 2019.

That is all. NegaVol away!


GBO!
 
#2

Samthebam

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#2
Really good research and summary. I appreciate posts like this that make this site worthwhile. And yes, I agree that the future looks better.

Remains to be seen whether or not Pruitt can become an elite coach, and it also remains to be seen if Vol fans will be patient enough to allow him time to become one.
 
#3

I40flyer

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#3
The OP states, "We won't compete for the SEC title next year, but I suspect we'll take a big step forward". What does that mean in real terms? In Football terms, W-L? How many wins? How many SEC wins? Right now we are 1-4, if we win Saturday, we will have increased our winning by 100%!! Or, up until now we had lost 80% of the games we've played, but we've really turned it around, we have gone from 80% loss rate to 66% loss rate (2-4)!! The spinners can come up with crap, but without a solid number in the win column, that is all you have spin. When you state you expect to sneak into a bowl game next year, will that be with a 6-6 record, or the now popular 5-7?
 
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#4

JoAllan

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#4
“Reasons for Optimism in 2020”

Charolette
Furman
Missouri
South Carolina
Arkansas
Kentucky
Troy
Vanderbilt

There are 8 reasons to be optimistic.......it just hasn’t helped Tennessee over the past few years.

Tennessee doesn’t need a new roster to win 6-8 games per year......it’s simply a myth.

Tennessee does need a new roster to get back to 9 or 10 wins per year.
 
#11

volfannbama

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#11
Always respect your post and opinions, weird you would preface the negavol stuff like you wouldn't want any discussion on a well thought out post.

I posted a thread a while back noting the 2nd year improvement under coaches we commonly consider good. Just using the coaches you listed

Dabo 7-6 (he was 4-3) / 9-5 second year
Alvarez 1-10/ 5-6
Nick Saban MSU 6-5-1 / 6-6 (0-11 year prior to saban)
Mike Leach 7-6/7-5
Bill Snyder 1-10 / 5-6

Also added saban at toledo 9-2 ....6-5
The only exception you listened is beamer.

This team is a disaster in his second year.
 
#12

Sara Clark

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#12
Unless Bailey grew up loving UT, I really don't expect him to end up here. If he's promised immediate playing time, he would be better served at GA, seeing how Fromm is leaving. I don't see how he could or would turn that down.
 
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#13

DiderotsGhost

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#13
Dabo 7-6 (he was 4-3) / 9-5 second year
Tommy Bowden was 9-4 his last full year and never had a losing season. 9-5 was not really a departure from that.


Nick Saban MSU 6-5-1 / 6-6 (0-11 year prior to saban)
They were 5-6 the year before Saban got there, not 0-11. The 0-11 is the NCAA taking away the wins.


Mike Leach 7-6/7-5
Nope at Wash State he was 6-7 then 3-9 his 3rd year. You're thinking of Texas Tech. Which, btw, Leach didn't really improve upon his predecessor until at least Year 3.
 
#14

I40flyer

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#14
Unless Bailey grew up loving UT, I really don't expect him to end up here. If he's promised immediate playing time, he would be better served at GA with Fromm leaving. I don't see how he could or would turn that down.
I have been thinking something along those lines myself. Even if Bailey grew up loving UT, and it is his life's dream-type thing, I believe more adult heads will look at the situation, and guide him to a place where he can excel and get his shot at the NFL. Being a Great QB on a team that does not win many games, does not help-one bit-a players chances of a professional career. We'd better develop Maurer, and build as many plays as we can to best utilize his ability (s). Boy butch, did not see what he had, then build around the players strengths, he had a set of plays, and that was it, not to mention his play call sheets (but don't get me started). Maurer, has not won a game, was knocked out playing UGA, but he seems to have talent, and heart-he could be one hell of a player for UT, if CP can coach.
 
#15

DiderotsGhost

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#15
Unless Bailey grew up loving UT, I really don't expect him to end up here. If he's promised immediate playing time, he would be better served at GA, seeing how Fromm is leaving. I don't see how he could or would turn that down.
The situation won't be any different at Georgia. He'll have to compete against Carson Beck.

I just don't think you can be afraid of competition if you commit to a major program. You're always going to have to win the job; it's never going to be handed to you. Maybe you avoid the situations where a starter is solidified, but that's not the case here.
 
#16

BeecherVol

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#16
Unless Bailey grew up loving UT, I really don't expect him to end up here. If he's promised immediate playing time, he would be better served at GA, seeing how Fromm is leaving. I don't see how he could or would turn that down.
UGA already has a highly ranked QB in the class.

It's not like they have an opening and no one to contend for it. Not that Bailey is making the decision based on competition. Hes gonna have that regardless of where he goes.
 
#17

volfannbama

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#17
Tommy Bowden was 9-4 his last full year and never had a losing season. 9-5 was not really a departure from that.




They were 5-6 the year before Saban got there, not 0-11. The 0-11 is the NCAA taking away the wins.




Nope at Wash State he was 6-7 then 3-9 his 3rd year. You're thinking of Texas Tech. Which, btw, Leach didn't really improve upon his predecessor until at least Year 3.
Thanks for the correction on msu. Teams still improved in year 2. If we are probably looking at a 2-3 win season, almost never covering the spread....do you know of a coach with that type of regression in year two and went on to be a successful coach?
 
#18

EZE

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#18
“Reasons for Optimism in 2020”

Charolette
Furman
Missouri
South Carolina
Arkansas
Kentucky
Troy
Vanderbilt

There are 8 reasons to be optimistic.......it just hasn’t helped Tennessee over the past few years.

Tennessee doesn’t need a new roster to win 6-8 games per year......it’s simply a myth.

Tennessee does need a new roster to get back to 9 or 10 wins per year.
You nailed it. Especially this year when we do not have any OOC heavyweights and at least 4-5 SEC opponents that are mediocre at best.
 
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#19

DiderotsGhost

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#19
Thanks for the correction on msu. Teams still improved in year 2. If we are probably looking at a 2-3 win season, almost never covering the spread....do you know of a coach with that type of regression in year two and went on to be a successful coach?
It's like when sports commentators say things like "in the history of this series, any team that has run 234 yards, completed over 65.3% of their passes, and thrown for under 3 interceptions always wins the game." You're narrowly defining your stat in a way so that you always get the results you want.

Here are examples of teams regressing in Year 3 and Year 4 under successful coaches.
Doesn't count! Has to be YEAR 2!

Alright, here are plenty of teams that have not improved in Year 2!
Well, they technically improve if you use this very liberal definition of improvement that ignores all circumstances!

You can technically claim Frank Beamer improved from Year 1 to Year 2, except not really. He went from 2-9 to 3-8 playing an easier schedule. Saban's record got worse: he went from 6-5-1 to 6-6. To me, that's basically the same, but regardless, it's not like Saban's Michigan State teams showed radical improvement until Year 5.

Conversely, there are dozens of coaches that improved in Year 1 and Year 2, who went on to suck.

I'm not saying Pruitt will be successful or not. Merely that this "Year 2" stuff is very very overrated. People cherry-pick a few examples of coaches improving in Year 2 (who all inherited great rosters) and have labeled that as some gold standard, even though there's mounds of evidence rebutting it. And it's random coincidence that a lot of great coaches have seen a regression in results in Year 3 or Year 4 rather than Year 2.
 
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#20

I40flyer

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#20
UGA already has a highly ranked QB in the class.

It's not like they have an opening and no one to contend for it. Not that Bailey is making the decision based on competition. Hes gonna have that regardless of where he goes.
You may have a point; however, sometimes a coach goes with a QB-not because he is better, or winning games, or inspiring his team mates, or making great throws......
 
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#21

volfannbama

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#21
It's like when sports commentators say things like "in the history of this series, any team that has run 234 yards, completed over 65.3% of their passes, and thrown for under 3 interceptions always wins the game." You're narrowly defining your stat in a way so that you always get the results you want.

Here are examples of teams regressing in Year 3 and Year 4 under successful coaches.
Doesn't count! Has to be YEAR 2!

Alright, here are plenty of teams that have not improved in Year 2!
Well, they technically improve if you use this very liberal definition of improvement that ignores all circumstances!

You can technically claim Frank Beamer improved from Year 1 to Year 2, except not really. He went from 2-9 to 3-8 playing an easier schedule. Saban's record got worse: he went from 6-5-1 to 6-6. To me, that's basically the same, but regardless, it's not like Saban's Michigan State teams showed radical improvement until Year 5.

Conversely, there are dozens of coaches that improved in Year 1 and Year 2, who went on to suck.

I'm not saying Pruitt will be successful or not. Merely that this "Year 2" stuff is very very overrated. People cherry-pick a few examples of coaches improving in Year 2 (who all inherited great rosters) and have labeled that as some gold standard, even though there's mounds of evidence rebutting it. And it's random coincidence that a lot of great coaches have seen a regression in results in Year 3 or Year 4 rather than Year 2.
Sure anyone can make stats look like whatever they want. Hopefully, this roster / recruiting excuse that is so popular will work out.
 
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#22

gsb0824

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#22
Always respect your post and opinions, weird you would preface the negavol stuff like you wouldn't want any discussion on a well thought out post.

I posted a thread a while back noting the 2nd year improvement under coaches we commonly consider good. Just using the coaches you listed

Dabo 7-6 (he was 4-3) / 9-5 second year
Alvarez 1-10/ 5-6
Nick Saban MSU 6-5-1 / 6-6 (0-11 year prior to saban)
Mike Leach 7-6/7-5
Bill Snyder 1-10 / 5-6

Also added saban at toledo 9-2 ....6-5
The only exception you listened is beamer.

This team is a disaster in his second year.
Maybe you need to find another team to be a fan of. Sorry this one didn’t work out for you.
 

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