2016 RECORD: 9-4 overall, 4-4 in the SEC East
No doubt Georgia fans are still feeling the sting from last year's Hail Mary loss to Tennessee.
Wide receiver Jauan Jennings is back for Tennessee, but quarterback Joshua Dobbs has moved on, meaning the Vols will have a new man under center when the two teams collide Sept. 30 in Knoxville.
As we continue our series previewing Georgia's opponents for 2017, we check in with VolQuest publisher Brent Hubbs.
Check out what he had to say below.
UGASports.com: "What’s your current overall outlook on Tennessee for this upcoming season, just based off of what you saw and heard this spring?”
Hubbs: "My outlook for this team is better post spring than it was pre-spring. With the loss of six draft picks, there is some talent gone.
"But this team has some parts. I think they can be better up the middle defensively then they have been. They have to be able to lean on the offensive line.
"And they aren’t the media darlings. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder and no one is picking them to do anything after being everyone’s pick a season ago. I think that sets up well with this team’s mental make up.
"But there are holes in depth and questions about production in some key areas which will dictate how good this team can be."
UGASports.com: Which positions do you think Tennessee feels best about heading into the 2017 ? On the flip side, what positions do you see as the team's biggest concerns?
Hubbs: "I think the position that this staff feels best about the the offensive line. Tennessee brings back five guys who have multiple SEC starts over multiple years. Throw in true freshman Trey Smith who was really good in the spring and new offensive line coach Walt Wells has a nice problem in trying to find his best five.
"Clearly, they are most competitive depth was on the offensive line.
"They return an SEC tailback in Jon Kelly, but have depth concerns behind him. At receiver, Tennessee has some experience in big play receiver Jauan Jennings.
"On the flip side, there’s depth concerns at tight end, linebacker and defensive end. The position of the greatest unknown is defensive end where they have to replace first round pick Derek Barnett who is the all time sacks leader at Tennessee and played a high volume of snaps. Finding some production at defensive end is key for this team."
UGASports.com: Which position battles were some of the ones to watch this spring?
Hubbs: "There are battles at safety, and will be some heated battles on the offensive line. However the story line for this team in terms of position battles is all about the quarterback where Quinten Dormady, who’s entering his third year, is battling with redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in what will be a battle well into August. "
UGASports.com: Who do you see as Tennessee's top players on each side of the ball?
Hubbs: "Offensively, I think Jon Kelly, and Jauan Jennings are the two stalwarts. I think they have some talent up front and that unit should be good. But Kelly and Jennings are your playmakers who have proven they can do it. Senior tight end Ethan Wolf provides a nice security blanket for whoever wins the quarterback battle."
UGASports.com: Although there’s only so much one can learn from spring practices/game, what can you draw as far as how an opponent like Georgia should scout Tennessee and then game-plan for the Vols?
Hubbs: "With a rain shortened game that feature just 4 offensive series, it’s hard to get a feel.
"With a young quarterback coming in and an experienced offensive line, one would think this team will lean on the run. But what does this offense look like without Josh Dobbs who bailed them out of so many bad spots?
"Whoever wins the QB derby, he’s not going to be the running back that Dobbs was so this offense is going to be different.
"Defensively, we never saw Bob Shoop’s defense on full display after the Florida game where they handled the Gators in the second half. So what does that defense look like in year two, will they play more three linebacker sets and less nickel? What does Shoop want them to be centered around?
"Frankly the play of the defensive ends may dictate a lot of the answers."
UGASports.com: Which lesser well-known players really turned heads during practices and in the spring game"
Hubbs: "Defensively the biggest surprise is cornerback Justin Martin. Martin’s talent has never been questioned. But his immaturity and lack of discipline has kept him from the field. Martin earned most improved honors and clearly a new face in secondary coach Charlton Warren has been good for him.
"Offensively, sophomore receiver Marquez Callaway is a name to watch as the Georgia native had a really good spring."
Tennessee 2017 Schedule
at Georgia Tech