The Tennessee Volunteers couldn’t be going into a bye week at a more perfect time. After getting waxed by Georgia in the worst home loss since 1905, the Vols look to regroup before facing Will Muschamp and South Carolina next week. Butch Jones eyes revenge on the Gamecocks, as Muschamp is 4-0 against the Vols in his career.
1. Sort out the quarterback situation
After starting quarterback Quentin Dormady’s 64 yard and two interception performance against Georgia on Saturday, backup Jarrett Guarantano may get the keys to the offense next week. In all honesty, there’s no reason not to give Guarantano a chance. The Tennessee offense has been a disaster and getting Guarantano some reps could bring some success. At this point in the season there is little chance that the Vols will win the East, so starting Guarantano has no downside. Plus, a quarterback change could provide a spark for the team and the fans.
2. Improve run blocking
In the past few weeks the Tennessee offensive line has struggled creating running lanes for the Vols tailbacks. Last week, they were dominated by the stout Georgia front seven as they gave up eight tackles-for-loss. John Kelly rushed for just 44 yards on 16 attempts against the Bulldogs, which is his worst rushing performance of the season. Next week, Tennessee will face a tough South Carolina defense under Muschamp. The Vols will need to improve their run blocking in order to find success for their tailbacks.
3. Set themselves up to win coming off a bye week
Tennessee is once again going into a bye week before facing the Gamecocks for the second year in a row. Butch Jones cannot afford another debacle like he had in 2016 against Muschamp and South Carolina. Another loss to the Gamecocks would spell disaster for Jones, who already has the hottest seat in all of college football. South Carolina has presented themselves as a very beatable team, especially after losing a dynamic playmaker in receiver Deebo Samuel.
4. Keep pressure on quarterbacks
One thing that has vastly improved since the start of the season for the Volunteers is getting pressure on the quarterback. After tallying just one sack and two quarterback hurries in its first two games, the Tennessee defense has registered 11 sacks and four quarterback hurries in the past three games. The Vols will need to keep pressure on the quarterback to take the burden off the struggling Tennessee secondary.
“We’d like to get more pressure, we would like to get more push from the inside of our D-Line,” said defensive line coach Brady Hoke on Thursday.
5. Let Butch Jones go
I was on the fence about Jones being fired in the past few weeks, and I was on his side to start the season. However, it is time for Jones to go. Losing in Neyland 41-0 to Georgia in humiliating fashion after a four-point win over UMass is inexcusable. The ideal time to fire Jones would be now. That would give the interim coach and the team time to adjust for the South Carolina game. Getting a jump on the coaching search is imperative for Tennessee, especially with the talented pool of coaches that are available right now. Jones did a lot of great things for the University of Tennessee, but his time is up.
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports