Tennessee (Saturday September 3, 2011) Neyland Stadium
3:30 PM ET
Tennessee 2010 Record: 6-7
Series History: Tennessee leads 4-1 (last meeting UT, 40-0, 1992)
Tennessee hasn’t been an upper echelon team in the Southeastern Conference for a couple years, and they struggled under first year coach Derrick Dooley last season. However, the Volunteers still reside in possibly the best conference in America. Four of their seven losses came to teams ranked in the Top 12.
The Volunteers will turn to sophomore Tyler Bray at quarterback, but after a disappointing showing in the spring game, senior Matt Simms could find the opening needed. Bray will have seven offensive starters, including senior running back Tauren Poole, who rushed for 1,034 yards in 2010.
However, the Volunteers will be breaking in two new starters at receiver in promising sophomores Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers. Built in the mold of some fantastic SEC receivers (6-3, 215 pounds), Rogers could have a breakout second year.
Defensively, Tennessee lacks depth along the front seven. That deficiency led the Volunteers to experiment with its personnel during the spring. Middle linebacker Austin Johnson took some reps outside, while sophomore defensive end Corey Miller took snaps at tackle.
The defensive secondary would be bolstered if junior Janzen Jackson returns to the school. The free safety left school in February to deal with personal issues, but the staff expects him to return for the 2011 season.
Since joining the BIG EAST in 2005, the Bearcats are 1-5 non-conference games with BCS opponents, including 0-4 on the road.
BearcatInsider.com Crystal Ball Prediction: Tennessee 28-21