Tennessee football season preview

tennessee football

Tennessee football gained a lot of attention this offseason with the strong recruiting from head coach Jeremy Pruitt. The Vols are coming off a six-game winning streak from the tail end of the 2019 season, and with key players returning to the field this fall, the they have a chance to make a run for the SEC East Championship game.

With their season opener against South Carolina just days away, questions of how’d the Vols look in the preseason arise. That being said, let’s breakdown Tennessee’s 2020 preseason.


Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has been challenging players this preseason, really focusing on the offensive line. He has been moving players around to get a new perspective on the offensive line, trying different combinations of players and feeling out who deserves to start. Chaney kept his starting offense mostly open to any player who steps up, except for Trey Smith, who has recently been named to the preseason All-SEC First Team. The senior will start as a guard and be the veteran leader for the O-line. The Vols’ sixth-year senior Brandon Kennedy will most likely keep his position as the center for Tennessee this fall.

The rest of the line is a toss up, especially for the number of players who had to sit out multiple weeks due to the coronavirus. Former left tackle Wanya Morris has been in and out of quarantine, but finally made his return to practice on Thursday. For the time being, Jahmir Johnson will take over for Morris as the left tackle.

The Vols are no strangers to scrutiny, especially when it has to do with their quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Critics say Tennessee needs a quarterback to win games, and Athlon Sports recently ranked Guarantano recently No. 11 on the SEC quarterback rankings, raising some doubt from his 2019 rollercoaster of a season. The fifth-year senior is ready to prove his abilities as a quarterback. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported Guarantano telling reporters,

“I’ve been working pretty hard on just trying to maintain the offense and get better with it. It’s definitely going to be a lot better, just being able to have those guys and the same terminology for another year.”

We will see if back to back seasons under the same offensive coordinator will help the Vols offensive game finally find consistency.


The Vols’ preseason was very telling about how the defense can succeed in the 2020 season. After losing arguably their three best defensive players last year, eight starters are returning this season. With that said, the key to a successful defensive year for Tennessee depends on the performance by the defensive line. There isn’t as much concern toward the secondary because overall, those players are looking solid this year.

It looks like inside linebacker Henry To’o To’o, will be a crucial player to the Vols defense this year. The sophomore is strong and big, but he also can maintain his speed. This season, he will have to be a leader and communicate on the line for the Vols defense to be a success.

Another key to the defense this year is shutting down the passing game. Junior cornerback Bryce Thompson plays a pivotal role in shutting down the long game. Luckily for Tennessee, Thompson is considered one of the league’s best cornerbacks. Since his freshman year, he averages three interceptions and didn’t allow a single touchdown in coverage in the 2019 season.