A Big Orange scare again makes us wonder about Tennessee

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) leaps for the end zone as he's hit by Appalachian State linebacker Kennan Gilchrist (6), defensive lineman Caleb Fuller (51) and defensive back Desmond Franklin (34) during overtime of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 in Knoxville, Tenn. Dobbs fumbled; the ball was recovered by Jalen Hurd for a touchdown to give Tennessee a 20-13 win. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

This is how the Vols drew up their winning TD. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

The more we hype Tennessee — and I’ve contributed, having slotted the Big Orange at No. 7 in my Top 25 — the less hype-worthy it appears. The Volunteers were lucky beyond belief to beat Appalachian State in overtime Thursday night, not that Appy is any appetizer. Even before many toes have met leather, they’ve stamped themselves, in the words of ESPN’s Chris Low, “as college football’s biggest fraud.”

This makes two years running I’ve picked Tennessee to win the SEC East. Last year was a default choice — I didn’t think anybody else in the division would be much good. The Vols never came close, losing three of their first four league games. (The lone victory was over Georgia on the day Nick Chubb got hurt.) I picked them again this year because I thought they’d begun to sort things out. If Thursday was any indication, they’re still out of sorts.

Not for the first time, we check Tennessee’s 2015 worksheet: Blew a lead against Oklahoma, blew a lead against Florida, blew a lead against Arkansas, blew a lead against Alabama. Granted, those were four pretty good teams. (Also the lead against Bama was one point in the fourth quarter.) Still: The two best victories in Tennessee’s 9-4 season came against a team that wound up firing its coach (meaning Georgia) and Northwestern.

I didn’t vote in the poll at SEC Media Days, but those who did made Tennessee an overwhelming choice in the East. The Vols received 225 first-place votes; the other six teams received a total of 116. Again, there’s process-of-elimination at work: The bottom four teams in the division are awful, Florida collapsed at the end of last season and Georgia, as noted, is under new management. My reaction when I saw that poll: “That’s quite a mandate for a team that hasn’t won anything since 2007.”

Tennessee is 1-0 only because of a missed Appy PAT, a missed field goal, a terrible flare screen on second-and-1 and Jalen Hurd’s end-zone recovery of Joshua Dobbs’ fumble in OT. The Vols’ next game is against Virginia Tech at the Bristol Motor Speedway. By Oct. 15, they’ll have played Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama. If they don’t get a lot better fast, they won’t be in anybody’s Top 25 for long.

I say again: The more I see of Tennessee, the more I wonder. I wonder about Mike DeBord, whose offense mustered 319 yards in four quarters plus overtime against Appy. I wonder if Dobbs, the preseason pick as the SEC’s second-best quarterback, is really the SEC’s second-best quarterback. Mostly I wonder about Butch Jones, about whom many wonder. He’s believed to have recruited very well. But can he, you know, coach? We’ll know by Oct. 15, and maybe sooner.

Reader Comments 0

88 comments
L. Hester
L. Hester

you got one gorilla and the rest are lambs...

L. Hester
L. Hester

tenneseee and lsu and others in the sec are all overrated.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Don't wonder about Tennessee, wonder about Butch Jones. He might be on that list of coaches that may not make it through the season. Les Miles, Stoops at KY, Mullen, and whoever the coach is at Mo.

Harlemdawg
Harlemdawg

To, TO, ohio and whoever whistle is. Yalls worst nigjtmare headline. " AJC suffers major hack, addresses of 3 subscribers mass e-mailed to rest of subscribers" Then we just follow the yellow stream to your new hidding place.

OH:IO
OH:IO

I wonder if the SEC! SEC! Regional Interest Network will split screen Nicholls State and Prairie View?

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

UT will win the East Bradley.. Look for dawgs to follow

in 3rd or 4th place. You will be proud to be a Vol before

seasons end and remember, good old Rocky Top!!!!!!

FlatTire
FlatTire

@LOGS1973 keep dreaming.  UT couldn't move the ball all night against inferior talent

OH:IO
OH:IO

One more day until Nicholls State Week!

OH:IO
OH:IO

@FlatTire


dogs should stop chanting SEC! SEC! and replace it Bama! Bama! 

FlatTire
FlatTire

@OH:IO please stop talking about schedules.  The Joke Ohio st, plays in a conference where two teams account for 77 conference championships.  That my friend says how lousy the competition has been in the mighty little 10 for over 100 seasons.


Basically just beat Michigan and you win a conference title


What a Joke

FlatTire
FlatTire

@OH:IO  nah you can do that with the Little 10 with either Michigan or Ohio st



FlatTire
FlatTire

@OH:IO  um the SEC has parody when it comes to Champions


not 2

Big Wally
Big Wally

Hope I get up in time to watch all those noon kickoffs with the Big Noon Conference.  I would hate to miss all those classic opening week games.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Big Wally


It's not the opening games that matter. 


It's the last one. 



Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @Big Wally Don't tell that to the rest of the power 5 conferences.  You know the ones who are playing real teams this week.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @Big Wally No, watching that 'great' Mich. State team scratch out a tough win over Furman.  Proud moment for the Big Noon Conference.

Big Wally
Big Wally

"WhistleDick"?  Is that a name or something you catch after you have been with Blowhio's wife?

WhistleDick99
WhistleDick99

You redneck UGA fans won't be running your 4 teeth mouths after NC spanks you tomorrow. Grayson Lambert is a chump and Skinny Eason is 8 months out of high school. I will be laughing my "Obama" off tomorrow during and after that game. 

JBr0d
JBr0d

Dude why you gotta be so angry? Just take a seat, get your heart rate under control, and watch some grown man football.

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

@JBr0d The guy is just full of Red Bull and Viagra.  A heart attack would do him some good. Either that or he kicked over his Styrofoam spit cup.

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

@OH:IO @JBr0d As I watch Furman giving the only non-FCS team in the Bum 10 all they can handle, your trolling looks dumber and dumber.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@JBr0d

Not angry--just a dumb, cowardly loudmouth hiding behind a keyboard.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Still haven't figured out that acronym, I see.

Your ignorance is mind-boggling.

seminoleking
seminoleking

Appy kept running stupid plays in the redzone. If not for that, they wouldve demolished Tennessee yesterday...

WhistleDick99
WhistleDick99

@seminoleking Tennessee could not get out of its own way......and the zebras helped App State too. On Sunday morning UT will still be 1-0 and UGA will be 0-1. I can live with that.

7576DAWG
7576DAWG

After being nice to Tennessee in my last statement , I will say that Tennessee may realize what some of us think. That Butch Jones is way , way overrated. Looking at his career wins and losses he is an average Coach at best but he get's very high mark at running his mouth. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@7576DAWG 10-2 and he's gone next year. I do know a little about Tennessee folks. I've got about a thousand relatives up there in the Nashville and Mt. Pleasant area.

7576DAWG
7576DAWG

There are so many unanswered question there is no way to evaluate Tennessee , yet.  I am  a firm believer in parity in today's College Football . Appalachian State may be a lot better than you give them credit. A team like App. St. if they are really good has only  one major problem,  depth , which will catch up with them eventually. 

I remember a few years ago when Auburn was undefeated. They won 4 or 5 of their games by less than 7 points and were just plain lucky . Les Miles has made a career at L.S.U. as having  some  of the luckiest  outcome ever. So I will need to see a few more games but I know one thing. Stop Dobbs' and you stop Tennessee. If App. State could have put a lot more pressure on Dobbs' , which I expect Georgia to have as one of their highest priorities , App. St. would have won.

TideDawg
TideDawg

I'm not a Tennessee fan. I hate Tennessee! But that team is for real. It's the coach that wasn't. The team was ill prepared to play that game and it showed in many areas....but they won. Top 10 ranking, with talent to match. Jones has never been on that stage before and he handled it poorly and that was supposed to be one of their cupcake games. I don't like giving Tennessee any credit but that team won because they refused to lose.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TideDawg


You hate TN?


But they're SEC! SEC!


SEC! SEC! LEAST! 


Haters gonna hate. 

USMC2841
USMC2841

But did they play Rocky Top?