Tennessee fan here -- Breakdown of the Vols

Nov 8, 2006
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90
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I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
 

4Mark_Marty

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I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
Thanks.
 
Nov 8, 2006
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13
i really feel like Tenn will be the best team on paper, BY FAR, that we play all year. We go 2-0, things are gonna get weird (in a good way)..

I'll be honest Pitt scares the crap out of me. I think Tennessee is better but Narduzzi knows how to muddy up a game and find a W. He's seen Heupel's a bunch lately too. Not to mention your DL is pretty salty.

It'll be a nice feather in either team's cap to win this one.
 

Zeldas Open Roof

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I'll be honest Pitt scares the crap out of me. I think Tennessee is better but Narduzzi knows how to muddy up a game and find a W. He's seen Heupel's a bunch lately too. Not to mention your DL is pretty salty.

It'll be a nice feather in either team's cap to win this one.
last year, we had the offense thru the air to match the Heupel offense. This year, going to be much more balanced, aka less passing and a lot more running. as you know, that's good if you have the lead, not so good if you are coming from behind..

As much as i love a run dominating offense, my fear is if we get down by two scores, it could be an offense not suited to come back quickly. Some deep balls are hit against us early and we know Heupel will go deep early and it could be a long day.


But unfortunately we have wvu to worry about but come back on the saturday after we beat WVU and we can get after it a bit more in detail..
 
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Fk_Pitt

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i really feel like Tenn will be the best team on paper, BY FAR, that we play all year. We go 2-0, things are gonna get weird (in a good way)..
Right now on paper it seems that the best team on our schedule is Miami. I fully expect Pitt to have a loss by that game, but it won’t be against Tennessee.
 
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hermdigity

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Tennessee scares me most on the schedule. I never like when Pitt has to go into a shootout.

WVU fans talk about how they'll pack the stadium. I wouldn't doubt Tennessee beings more fans to Pitt.

Way I see it too, Tennessee wins last season if Hooker plays the whole game. Pitt is only going to win if they put up 40+ on Tennessee.
 

TheWerewolfFromTwilight

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Is Tennessee better on paper? They very well may beat us, but I don't know that they're overwhelmingly better on paper. I'm sure they have higher recruits in the younger classes, but I'm speaking mostly to the guys who will be playing.

Pretty sure this will be our 4th game against Hooker. For the most part, we've held him in check. As with most Pitt games, it will be largely determined by how well Tennessee's pass blocking performs. We are a feast or famine defense that blitzes like crazy and allows opposing receivers to have one on one matchups.
 
Nov 8, 2006
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Tennessee scares me most on the schedule. I never like when Pitt has to go into a shootout.

WVU fans talk about how they'll pack the stadium. I wouldn't doubt Tennessee beings more fans to Pitt.

Way I see it too, Tennessee wins last season if Hooker plays the whole game. Pitt is only going to win if they put up 40+ on Tennessee.

Not sure on Tennessee traveling to Pitt... It seems like LSU will be the most attended road game of the season.
 

Fk_Pitt

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Tennessee scares me most on the schedule. I never like when Pitt has to go into a shootout.

WVU fans talk about how they'll pack the stadium. I wouldn't doubt Tennessee beings more fans to Pitt.

Way I see it too, Tennessee wins last season if Hooker plays the whole game. Pitt is only going to win if they put up 40+ on Tennessee.
If ever there was a time that WVU was going to pack our stadium was when we had a down year and they had an organized movement to pack our stadium…and they brought around 7500 fans. Might have been when we were 6-4 and WVU was fighting for a big east championship. I hate even mentioning their bravado.
 
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Tennessee by rights (aka, by amounts of money invested) should beat Pitt 9 out of 10 times. Position by position they are going to have the higher rated players. QB is the big equalizer and our situation is a big ? until we see what we really have at the position in two weeks. One game usually isn’t fair to make a final assessment but (unfortunately) you can usually learn more than needed IF the guy(s) really stink. And if THAT worst case scenario comes true, don’t bother even worrying about Tennessee or Miami, worry about EVERY game.
 

TheWerewolfFromTwilight

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Tennessee by rights (aka, by amounts of money invested) should beat Pitt 9 out of 10 times. Position by position they are going to have the higher rated players. QB is the big equalizer and our situation is a big ? until we see what we really have at the position in two weeks. One game usually isn’t fair to make a final assessment but (unfortunately) you can usually learn more than needed IF the guy(s) really stink. And if THAT worst case scenario comes true, don’t bother even worrying about Tennessee or Miami, worry about EVERY game.

If I look at the individual units, I doubt they're leaps and bounds ahead of us.

QB... If both perform to expectations, it should be pretty close. Maybe a slight edge to Hooker.

TE... Bartholomew should be a future draft pick. If theirs are better, I doubt it's by much.

RB... Sounds like ours are at least as good as theirs, if not better.

OL... I would imagine ours is a top 15 line at worst. Is theirs better? If they are, it couldn't be by a large margin.

WR... Pretty much the same deal as running back. Two positions we might not have a bona fide star at (at least of yet), but we're still pretty stacked at both.

DL... Doubt many teams will have one better than ours.

LB... Dennis should be one of the better ones in college football. Kamara seems to be turning some heads. I could see theirs being better, but that isn't exactly a bullish review of them above.

CB... I'm not 100% sold on ours, but it sounds like they're in the same boat.

S... Ours are respectable at worst, but they have the potential to be really good.

All in all, we're a team without a weakness on paper, I think. Doesn't mean we're balls-to-the-wall great at every position, of course. But it's college football, so I'm sure it will come down to whichever team is hungrier/more fired up that day and whichever team doesn't make mistakes.

I will say in all fairness that I didn't think we had a ton of weaknesses in 2020 either, but we still managed to go 6-5. So being able to move the ball consistently will go a long way in telling the story this season. It's an offensive game.
 

Bethlehemjohn

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I'll be honest Pitt scares the crap out of me. I think Tennessee is better but Narduzzi knows how to muddy up a game and find a W. He's seen Heupel's a bunch lately too. Not to mention your DL is pretty salty.

It'll be a nice feather in either team's cap to win this one.
Tennessee is good and could easily win, but I don’t believe for a second that they are better. We beat them at Tennessee after spotting them a 10-0 lead and have most of our 2 deep coming back on both sides of the ball.

Hooker is a guy that we are very familiar with and we have beat him 2 years on a row. I know that he did not start last year, but that was to Tennessee’s advantage because we did not scout for him. However, we usually contain him quite well and force him to pass into tight windows while getting good pressure on him.

we also won time of possession last year by 36 to 24 minutes and that was with a heavy passing attack. This year we will be more ball control and that will likely add to our advantage.

The game very likely could go either way, but in no way would I say Tennessee is the better of the 2.
 

Bethlehemjohn

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If I look at the individual units, I doubt they're leaps and bounds ahead of us.

QB... If both perform to expectations, it should be pretty close. Maybe a slight edge to Hooker.

TE... Bartholomew should be a future draft pick. If theirs are better, I doubt it's by much.

RB... Sounds like ours are at least as good as theirs, if not better.

OL... I would imagine ours is a top 15 line at worst. Is theirs better? If they are, it couldn't be by a large margin.

WR... Pretty much the same deal as running back. Two positions we might not have a bona fide star at (at least of yet), but we're still pretty stacked at both.

DL... Doubt many teams will have one better than ours.

LB... Dennis should be one of the better ones in college football. Kamara seems to be turning some heads. I could see theirs being better, but that isn't exactly a bullish review of them above.

CB... I'm not 100% sold on ours, but it sounds like they're in the same boat.

S... Ours are respectable at worst, but they have the potential to be really good.

All in all, we're a team without a weakness on paper, I think. Doesn't mean we're balls-to-the-wall great at every position, of course. But it's college football, so I'm sure it will come down to whichever team is hungrier/more fired up that day and whichever team doesn't make mistakes.

I will say in all fairness that I didn't think we had a ton of weaknesses in 2020 either, but we still managed to go 6-5. So being able to move the ball consistently will go a long way in telling the story this season. It's an offensive game.
Agree, we have an advantage over them at RB, OL and possibly even WR. We also have an advantage over them at DL and DB.
 

kma0043

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Im surprised Tennessee wasn’t ranked around 23ish to start the year. I think they’re going to be a surprise 10 win team and push for SEC East top spot. Not feeling good about week 2, but hoping for the best of course.
 

TheWerewolfFromTwilight

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Im surprised Tennessee wasn’t ranked around 23ish to start the year. I think they’re going to be a surprise 10 win team and push for SEC East top spot. Not feeling good about week 2, but hoping for the best of course.

I can't believe how many people are acting like Georgia is a shoe-in for the CFP. I don't see it that way at all. They don't have a star at QB, and half their team just got drafted. I'm sure they're still the favorite in that division, but it would not shock me if it's at least a close race.
 
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Eastern Eight

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I wish this game was week 3 or 4. At least Pitt gets a long week to try and come back down from the WVU game. I was at the game at Neyland last year and really enjoyed everything about the experience. I would say to the 'Tennessee wins if Milton doesn't start' crowd that as well as Hooker played once he came in, he still threw a key int as well as took a couple of huge sacks. I think it's also key to remember that the best QB on the field that day was Kenny Pickett. One area that concerns me is with tackling. Last year Pitt gave up a couple of big plays where better tacking would have stopped things with minimal gains. Tennessee had some impressive athletes on offense. Will Pitt get the better of the QB play this year? That's the question.
 
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Nov 8, 2006
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I can't believe how many people are acting like Georgia is a shoe-in for the CFP. I don't see it that way at all. They don't have a star at QB, and half their team just got drafted. I'm sure they're still the favorite in that division, but it would not shock me if it's at least a close race.

Georgia is Bama level loaded at this point. It doesn’t matter what they lost,

So glad we get to play them both every single year.
 
Nov 8, 2006
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I wish this game was week 3 or 4. At least Pitt gets a long week to try and come back down from the WVU game. I was at the game at Neyland last year and really enjoyed everything about the experience. I would say to the 'Tennessee wins if Milton doesn't start' crowd that as well as Hooker played once he came in, he still threw a key int as well as took a couple of huge sacks. I think it's also key to remember that the best QB on the field that day was Kenny Pickett. One area that concerns me is with tackling. Last year Pitt gave up a couple of big plays where better tacking would have stopped things with minimal gains. Tennessee had some impressive athletes on offense. Will Pitt get the better of the QB play this year? That's the question.

That INT Hooker threw doesn’t happen it the game were a few weeks later… He only threw 3 all year long. Really settled in and got better as the year went on.
 
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TheWerewolfFromTwilight

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Georgia is Bama level loaded at this point. It doesn’t matter what they lost,

So glad we get to play them both every single year.

You could very well be right, but I need to see it first. People have been talking about them like they've been right up there with Bama and Clemson, but they simply have not been. They've been more like Oklahoma/Notre Dame level (until last season).

Now, maybe that's about to change and last year was the first of them propelling themselves up to a new level. But just one year isn't enough for me right now. LSU went 15-0 but it was a flash in the pan more so than a matter of them being back. I'm not at all suggesting that Georgia is going to fall as far as LSU did, but Alabama has been so far ahead of everybody since Saban got there that I just can't assume any team will be on that level before I witness it.
 

Eastern Eight

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That INT Hooker threw doesn’t happen it the game were a few weeks later… He only threw 3 all year long. Really settled in and got better as the year went on.
But Hooker isn't improving in a vacuum. Pitt's D under Narduzzi always improves in pass coverage as the year goes on too. See how that goes? We can go back and forth all day on those types of comments. Hooker played well and has obviously come a long way since us Pitt fans first saw him at VT. If he plays well, your Vols have a great chance at winning this season at Hei.. Acrisure.
 
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But Hooker isn't improving in a vacuum. Pitt's D under Narduzzi always improves in pass coverage as the year goes on too. See how that goes? We can go back and forth all day on those types of comments. Hooker played well and has obviously come a long way since us Pitt fans first saw him at VT. If he plays well, your Vols have a great chance at winning this season at Hei.. Acrisure.

Fair point
 
Nov 8, 2006
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Run game for Pitt wasnt great last season.

I keep hearing Narduzzi wants to lean on the run this year.

What has changed up front and at RB?
 

Bethlehemjohn

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Run game for Pitt wasnt great last season.

I keep hearing Narduzzi wants to lean on the run this year.

What has changed up front and at RB?
Not much has changed. We had the ability to run last year too, but chose to pass. This year will be more balanced. We have our entire starting OL and back up OL in-tact. We have 8 OL giys who started last year and all of our top RB’s back. The only time we chose to run was to run clock at the end of games and we did very well doing just that against Tenn, GT, VT and Clemson.

in total, we have 34 of our 44, 2 deep back from last year. This is by far our deepest team since the early 80’s.
 

cruzer

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I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
I think the outcome of this game is going to come down to the old saw....whoever wins the LOS is likely to win the game. If Pitt's DL can get consistent pressure on Hooker, we have a good chance. If Hooker is time to throw, I think our secondary gets torched. Also, our Oline has to have a strong game both in opening holes and pass protection. Whoever our QB is, he won't be as mobile as Pickett, so we need solid protection. We also need to open holes to get the run game going and control the clock. Our WR's and RB's will be fine if the line does it's job (and our QB is at least adequate).

This game is worrisome because Tennessee has the athletes to exploit our secondary if we don't get consistent pressure on Hooker.

Cruzer
 

RaleighPittFan

Heisman Winner
May 12, 2005
8,216
8,457
113
I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
Please tell me your “punt blocker” graduated.
 

JHud986

Sophomore
Gold Member
Jul 15, 2002
2,599
652
113
Rocky Top
Had a great time last year in Tennessee.
Hope you enjoy Pittsburgh and have a great time.
Also hope you go 11-1. You can guess the one loss!
 
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thebadby2

Athletic Director
Sep 21, 2003
17,496
7,877
113
I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
Hooker is a good starter and shoud be even better this year. But I wouldn't feel too great about Joe Milton as your #2.

You forget UT is the second team that got all excited about his big arm only to bench him after a few games. He's a physical specimen but he doesn't have the "it" to play QB in a big time league. If Hooker goes down you'd better hope your #3 guy can play.
 

thebadby2

Athletic Director
Sep 21, 2003
17,496
7,877
113
I think the outcome of this game is going to come down to the old saw....whoever wins the LOS is likely to win the game. If Pitt's DL can get consistent pressure on Hooker, we have a good chance. If Hooker is time to throw, I think our secondary gets torched. Also, our Oline has to have a strong game both in opening holes and pass protection. Whoever our QB is, he won't be as mobile as Pickett, so we need solid protection. We also need to open holes to get the run game going and control the clock. Our WR's and RB's will be fine if the line does it's job (and our QB is at least adequate).

This game is worrisome because Tennessee has the athletes to exploit our secondary if we don't get consistent pressure on Hooker.

Cruzer
I see it a little differently. Josh Heupel's high tempo passing offense doesn't require the QB to have a ton of time. The ball is snapped and out in a blink. So IMO it won't come down to pressuring Hooker, the ball will be gone already. The pace and matchups will be very difficult on our D. This will be a real test of Doozball.
 

TheWerewolfFromTwilight

All Conference
Oct 25, 2021
5,559
4,588
113
I see it a little differently. Josh Heupel's high tempo passing offense doesn't require the QB to have a ton of time. The ball is snapped and out in a blink. So IMO it won't come down to pressuring Hooker, the ball will be gone already. The pace and matchups will be very difficult on our D. This will be a real test of Doozball.

We got 11 sacks in the last two contests against Heupel's teams. Should be at least some opportunity to apply pressure to Hooker. I'd like to see some tweaks so that guys aren't getting free releases and blowing past safeties and linebackers, though.

If there is one area where we can make up some ground to ease the blow of losing Pickett and Addison, it's not blowing assignments on defense in the first quarter. With the exception of UNC and maybe another game, most of the damage against our D seemed to happen early on in the game.
 
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TheWerewolfFromTwilight

All Conference
Oct 25, 2021
5,559
4,588
113
Of course he was.

I’ve said it before on this site, but this is one series that I would like to see get extended.

A two or four game series every decade would be pretty cool.

I have nothing against it, but I feel like both of these teams have like 20 opponents that make more sense than playing each other does. Doesn't Tennessee have a decent rivalry with Virginia Tech, for example?
 

h2p_5150

Head Coach
Oct 20, 2016
11,853
18,446
113
We got 11 sacks in the last two contests against Heupel's teams. Should be at least some opportunity to apply pressure to Hooker. I'd like to see some tweaks so that guys aren't getting free releases and blowing past safeties and linebackers, though.

If there is one area where we can make up some ground to ease the blow of losing Pickett and Addison, it's not blowing assignments on defense in the first quarter. With the exception of UNC and maybe another game, most of the damage against our D seemed to happen early on in the game.
I think we are all just used to it at this point of Narduzzis tenure, but our pass defense was once again towards the bottom of the FBS last year. Pickett more than covered for that, but it is a major concern, especially against an offense like Tennessee.
 

anon_d97v9o3a8b6xr

Board of Trustee
Aug 3, 2010
27,538
12,861
113
We have now played against Hooker several times and in all of those games he didn’t play well. But, last year showed that if he puts it together he can be exactly what he should be, a very good QB for a top 25 team. He was a few throws away from beating us last year. Those errors won’t happen this year. This will be a game of who can make the least mistakes, which defense can stop the others offense, and which QB decides to show up. Does Hooker hit those throws, and do we look like a team breaking in a new QB. Our defense can keep us in games, and offense last year showed they can put games away. But QB mistakes dictate this game, and a new QB that is fairly inexperienced with heavy shoes to fill will be interesting.