Boy, has it been a fun college football season so far! Tennessee football has been approximately 27 times worse than any of us could have predicted going into the season, meaning pretty much every fan’s fall is ruined. I never would have thought in August that I would have to write an article in mid-September trying to put a good spin on how the season has transpired.
But here we are: It’s Sept. 16 as I write this, and Tanner Carson has a (proverbial) gun to my head, demanding that I write something, ANYTHING that talks about the Vols. And seeing as how I’m as broken as everyone else around here, I might as well try to put a positive spin on the season so far to help get us through the rest of the year.
Here goes nothing:
For all intents and purposes, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano hasn’t had a *terrible* season so far.
Sure, he stares down receivers and sometimes looks like a lagging computer when he makes decisions, but that doesn’t fit our narrative here.
The fact of the matter is he’s currently in the top half of the SEC in nearly every major statistical passing category, including No. 3 in passing touchdowns (7) and number five in QBR (160.44). Did an easy game against UT-Chattanooga pump those numbers up a little bit? Of course they did, but that’s not the point. The point is. . .Tennessee could do worse at quarterback.
After all, did you see J.T. Shrout and Brian Maurer this weekend? Tennessee’s best quarterback is JG.
Sure, Tennessee sleepwalked through the opener against Georgia State and blew it late against BYU. But, if we have nothing else this season, at least we know Tennessee can still beat the hell out of UT-Chattanooga. And, to build off of that, every win streak has to start somewhere. This win streak just happened to start right when Tennessee is going to play three top-10 opponents in five weeks.
Maybe those first two games were just flukes and Tennessee’s worst games are behind them? And Tennessee has started their win streak right when the conference slate is about to open up? And maybe the Vols finish the season on a ten-game tear?
The spin zone can be a scary place sometimes.
Maybe That BYU Loss Wasn’t SO Bad. . .
The transitive property is dangerous. Trying to inject something like logic into something as chaotic and unpredictable as college football normally results in heartbreak and sadness.
But, Tennessee fans have been in a near constant state of heartbreak and sadness for years. So let’s double-down and wear this transitive property thing out.
BYU is on the fringe of the top-25 this week after a second consecutive win over a former powerhouse program trying to find their way back to national prominence (what’s up, USC?). And its only loss this year came against a possibly legitimate Utah team that is looking like the best team in the PAC-12. So maybe BYU is better than we all thought. And if not for one circumstance of blown coverage, Tennessee could have beaten them. So maybe that loss wasn’t so bad. It took a miracle for BYU to even clinch it, after all.
Sure, that’s a lot of “maybes,” but maybe Tennessee is a fringe top-25 team after all, right? Right???
If you take anything from the previous two paragraphs, though, it should be that Tennessee played BYU as well as top-25 USC did. Meaning Tennessee is pretty much a top-25 team. Duh.
The Defense Hasn’t Been Terrible
Don’t look now, but Tennessee currently has one of the top passing defenses in the SEC. And with the current state of college football, that’s definitely a good sign.
Its rushing defense? Not so much. But remember, this is the spin zone! And most of the teams left on Tennessee’s schedule have elite passing offenses. That bodes well for Tennessee moving forward. . .or something.
Undefeated On The Road
Try and find a road loss for Tennessee so far this year. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
That’s right, Tennessee hasn’t lost on the road this year. As a matter of fact, Tennessee hasn’t lost a game on the road since Nov. 2018. Definitely a good sign as Tennessee goes on the road to take on Florida this weekend.
Jokes aside, Tennessee has shown steady improvement in every game. Sure, the bar was set pretty low after Georgia State, but BYU looked a little better, albeit still flawed. Against UT-Chattanooga, they did exactly what an SEC team was supposed to do to an FCS team: dominate.
Eventually, that trend will even out and Tennessee will regress between games, law of averages and all. But, even with this logic, it’s safe to assume we still haven’t seen Tennessee’s best game, yet. More importantly, all that talk of Tennessee possibly not even winning three games this year after the Georgia State game seem greatly exaggerated now. If Tennessee can continue the trend of improvement as the season goes on, maybe a bowl game this season isn’t out of the cards.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your time in the positivity spin zone. See you next week after a depleted, terrible Florida team with their backup quarterback beats us this weekend.