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Here is why:
Let us start with the offense:
1. Bray was injured for much of the year last year, and he is now more mature physically and mentally: you never know how that will translate.
2. Our starting running back played WR last year.
3. Our top two receiving targets essentially did not play for us last year - though both appear to have first round talent.
4. Our left tackle from last year is now our left guard.
5. Our left tackle now was a freshman last year, but has top ten talent.
6. Our starting right tackle last year played after suffering through mono and losing a lot of weight.
7. Our starting center is now snapping with his more natural hand.
Just that right there says that no one knows what are offense will look like, but we are just getting started.
Now for the defense:
1. The obvious: we are switching schemes.
2. Our defense line is completely new: one of our DE played DT last year, and the other two were not on the team.
3. Our complete linebacking crew is new, besides Mr. Too Legit. Lathers is back, Johnson slides in from the outside, and J Smith was a DE last year.
4. Our secondary is vastly different. Byron Moore really struggled last year, but is much better. Brian Randolph was a freshman, so there should be a big jump this year. Swaggner played safety a majority of the year, and now is back at his natural position at CB. Then there is Teague and Coleman, both of which seem massively improved.
Then there are the intangibles:
1. The leadership in game should be so much better. Justin Hunter being the leader for the receiving group, having a new coaching staff; including a O-line coach that is liked and a running back coach, Lathers on the field makes a huge difference. Plus, Bray being a leader this year will be huge in game.
2. The special teams should be much improved from the punting to the kicking to the return game.
So, all that to say, we do not know what we are getting with this team. Anyone who tries to say N.C. State is so much better, or that the Vols are so much better are probably shooting out of their pooper - because this is a brand new more experienced team.
I cannot stress enough how much i am looking forward to having a mostly brand new staff on the sidelines, that might be the most overlooked aspect of this offseason.
Good post, with that being said, I think we win by at least a touchdown. Physically this team is finally sec caliber. I'm excited to see how Dooley can coach a team with a full roster. It should be fun.
Vols 34 pack 24
Oh, trust me, I am excited about this team. I think we are massively underrated - but it is because of the unknown. I will say this, if this was the early 2000's and people saw this talent, i think we would have went into the year as a top 15 team.
We have a lot to prove, and i think the ceiling for this team is very high, but the floor is very low. I could see us winning 10-11 games or losing 6-7 games. The questions have perplexed as to who are team actually is.
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