Tennessee Football: Moving past last season’s disappointment

Last season was supposed to be the one in which Tennessee football made it to the SEC Championship, but it ended as a disappointment.

It seemed as though they were on their way and that a trip to Atlanta was firmly in their grasp. The Tennessee Volunteers saw their win-loss record improve every year under the watchful eye of head coach Butch Jones. 2015 made many of us believers as the Vols lost four games by a grand total of 17 points. What was even more impressive was their showing against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

It was on that day that both the Volunteers and the Tide would throw body shots and uppercuts, but the Tide would ultimately prevail, squeaking by in the final moments of a low-scoring game. When the final horn sounded, the Volunteers had earned a five point victory.

Many of us thought, as this team progressed naturally, it was completely believable that this team could reach the SEC Championship game.

What went wrong?

Just think about it. In the previous season, the eastern division of one of college football’s best conferences was represented by a team Tennessee should have beaten. The Volunteers were on the road and had the Florida Gators on the ropes before blowing a double-digit lead. The loss would be critical as it was, ultimately, a key factor in why the Gators earned the right to play for the SEC crown.

What’s next?

Fast forward to the 2017 season. The offensive line needed to be upgraded, and it has been. They bring in five-star recruit Trey Smith, an offensive tackle from Jackson, Tennessee. Sure, Joshua Dobbs, Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd are all gone. So is the program’s all-time leader in sacks, Derek Barnett.

Yes, the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs both brought in higher ranked recruiting classes, per 247Sports.com, but the Volunteers didn’t do too shabby. They’re seen as the 17th best class in the country. They’ve got superstar wide receiver Latrell Williams in the fold, and they’ve got the full support of the 102, 455 fans who will, again, show up to show their support.

Conclusion

A trip to the SEC Championship Game seems as though it will be a more daunting task than it was last season, but it’s not an impossibility. It’s going to take some doing, but you can’t say the Vols are completely out of the race in 2017.

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