2008 Tennessee Volunteers Football Preview
Tennessee 2007 Record: (10-4, 6-2)
2007 Bowl: Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin (W 21-17)
Tennessee Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer (147-45 at Tennessee, 147-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Clawson
Defensive Coordinator: John Chavis
Returning Leaders for the Vols:
Other Key Returnees: DT Demonte’ Bolden, WR Josh Briscoe, TE Jeff Cottam, OT Ramon Foster, LB Rico McCoy, C Josh McNeil, G Anthony Parker, OT Chris Scott, CB Brent Vinson, DT Dan Williams, CB DeAngelo Willingham
Key Losses: QB Erik Ainge, TE Chris Brown, TE Brad Cottam, S Jonathan Hefney, LB Ryan Karl, LB Jerod Mayo, DE Xavier Mitchell, RE Antonio Reynolds, OT Eric Young
Tennessee will look different without quarterback Erik Ainge and coordinator David Cutcliffe. Jonathan Crompton has been waiting patiently for Ainge to head to the NFL and had a good enough spring to make Volunteer fans hope that they will forget about Ainge very soon. With new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, Tennessee will move players around quite a bit more. If it works, it will be confusing to the defense, if it does not work, it will confuse the Volunteers.
With four starters returning to an offensive line that only gave up four sacks, the offense should not have any problems adjusting to the new scheme. That is four sacks on the entire season… Stanford, Arizona State, Syracuse and Notre Dame gave up more than that per game. Guard Anthony Parker is the best of the bunch and should be looking at All-SEC honors when all is said and done. With such a quality line in front of him, running back Arian Foster is on the verge of exploding into superstardom. After tallying 1,193 yards on the ground and 14 total touchdowns as a junior, Foster will be the main part of the offense. With a whole lot of new faces on the staff, having a back like Foster will make the offense much more consistent than it would be otherwise.
As good as the team was at preventing sacks, they had a major problem getting some of their own. And with the departure of both starting ends, the problem could get worse before it gets better. Robert Ayers and Wes Brown have some experience and potential, but they probably will not make the line noticeably better right away. Losing Jerod Mayo and Ryan Karl will not make things any easier for the defense. Mayo, who was the tenth overall pick in the NFL Draft, led the conference in tackles and was the heart and soul of the defense. Rico McCoy will have to be the new leader of the linebackers and Coach Phillip Fulmer will have to find a couple new starters. There is some unproven talent that could step up, but Ellix Wilson is really the only experienced option to step into one of the starting linebacker spots.
The Bottom Line for the Volunteers:
Fortunately, the defense is not all bad news. The secondary did not have too much to be proud of last year after ranking 11th in the conference in pass defense, but that was an inexperienced group. Cornerbacks Brent Vinson and DeAngelo Willingham made notable progress as the 2007 season progressed and strong safety Eric Berry had a superb second half of the season. To make things even better, safety Demetrice Morley is back after missing last year for academic reasons.
2007 Tennessee Volunteers Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 139.00 (73rd in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 262.50 (35, 2)
Total Offense: 401.50 (54, 5)
Scoring Offense: 32.50 (36, 6)
Rushing Defense: 164.64 (69, 9)
Pass Defense: 238.64 (73, 11)
Total Defense: 403.29 (70, 11)
Scoring Defense: 27.29 (61, 10)
Turnover Margin: .50 (27, 3)
Sacks: 1.79 (79, 8)
Sacks Allowed: .29 (1, 1)
By Joel Welser
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