Some say change is good. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The University of Tennessee football program has had so many changes in the past five years it could make one’s head swim. Since head coach Phillip Fulmer’s exit in 2008, Tennessee has seen two other head coaches. Lane Kiffin stuck around for one season before he had an opportunity to take over the head coaching job with the Southern California Trojans. After Kiffin’s rapid departure in 2009, Derek Dooley came to town.
Dooley is the son of legendary head coach Vince Dooley of the Georgia Bulldogs. Dooley took over a football program at UT that was pretty much in shambles. Now, beginning his third season at UT, Dooley has hired a top-notch defensive coordinator by the name of Sal Sunseri, whose experience includes coaching defense at the Crimson Tide of Alabama and the NFL ranks with the Carolina Panthers. Sometimes a good defense is the best offense.
Sunseri has set the tone with the defense with a new scheme of formations and a now experienced defensive line UT hasn’t seen in years.
With a strong defense, and an explosive offense led by quarterback Tyler Bray, with wide receivers returnees Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers, the Vols should be able to hang in there with the rest of the South Eastern Conference on a competitive level.
Tennessee’s first SEC game for the 2012 season is against the Florida Gators in Knoxville on Sept. 9. This will be most likely the most important SEC match-up for the Volunteers this season. This game will set the tone for the rest of the season. If the Vols defeat the Gators, and if Tennessee has already taken care of North Carolina State in the season opener on Aug. 31, and a win over Georgia State on Sept. 8, followed by a win over Akron, then the hopefully undefeated Vols at 4-0 will be stoked and ready to take on the highly pre-season ranked Georgia Bulldogs between the hedges in Athens, Ga.
Most Tennessee fans are cautiously optimistic and have high hopes as well as high expectations about the upcoming season with all the final changes coming together. The Vols have the talent, the experience, and now that fall practice has started, the energy level and intensity is brewing and the whistle is blowing like a pot of hot tea. GO VOLS !!
By Jim Denny