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Know Your Enemy: Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee is our enemy because in both 45 total meetings and the last two consecutively they currently hold the lead. They play in our conference and our division and they wear orange, lots and lots of orange with and without white checkerboard accents. Need I say more?

Who are they? The Big Orange Blob Tennessee Volunteers.

Head Coach: Lyle Allen “Butch” Jones , Jr. In the off-season, you can find him on Open Mic Night at Sassy Ann’s rapping under the stage name “LA-JJ.”

When & Where? September 29th, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee. Time still TBD.

Famous Alumni: Albert Gore Sr graduated from UT and former VP, Albert Gore Jr has an “honorary degree” (he actually graduated from Harvard about the same time he invented these here interwebs.)

What conference do they Volunteer for? The Southeastern Conference (9-4, 4-4 in 2016).

Why they might be a cupcake: At the end of last season, they lost to Vanderbilt. Since then, they lost a total of 12 players from last year, 5 Offensive, 7 Defense. Among the departures, 3 Juniors went to the NFL including #1 receiver Josh Malone and Senior QB Joshua Dobbs graduated. Joshua was the most successful quarterback for the Volunteers since the last Manning left.

In addition, only 3 of 11 of their Assistant Coaches are returning this season. Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop, Running Backs Coach Robert Gillespie and Linebackers Coach Tommy Thigpen all return. Meanwhile, Larry Scott takes over as Offensive Coordinator with Mike Canales taking over as Quarterbacks Coach. New QB, New QB Coach, New OC adds up to a victory for the good guys right?

Why they might give us indigestion (other than because I hate Stripes& Orange Ain’t My Color): We meet Tennessee in Knoxville. With all the new personnel, we have very little useful game film for reference. They have two very different and very good quarterbacks with Dual Threat Jarret Guarantano and Pocket Passer Quinten Dormady. We’ll have to be prepared to face both at all times. Butch & company have already hinted at alternating the two at least early on. UT isn’t going to lay down and take a beating. The series currently stands at 23-21-2 in their favor. The same team that ultimately went 4-4 in conference losing to Vanderbilt along the way, went 9-4 overall last year and beat us on a Hail Mary despite being down by double digits earlier in the contest.

Fast Fact: UT is affiliated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory of Manhattan Project fame (Don’t radioactive things glow? Is that why they’re fascinated with that awful neon orange?)

By the time we head to Knoxville, both teams will have faced one SEC opponent and a non-conference slate of 4. The Classic City Canines will have seen Appalachian State, Notre Dame, Samford and Mississippi State. The Tennessee Volunteers open with Georgia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A and follow with Indiana State, Florida, and UMass. A win over UT in the 5th week of the season has the potential to get the talking heads prematurely rambling about a Bulldog trip to the SECCG.

Me & my little fat buddy Munson (my bulldog, not Larry may he Rest In Peace) are worried first & foremost about the treachery that awaits knee ligaments in Knoxville. Chubb may be fully recovered, but I’m still not over his season ending injury the last time we made this trek that involved multiple ligaments and cartilage (but not his ACL.)

Preseason Polls have UT at #24 vs. UGA at 15. Clearly Vegas favors the Bulldogs right now. THe FPI however, has UT with a 51.3% chance of winning. Tennessee is not without weapons on offense. In spite of all the new folks, they are still returning Running Back John Kelly (98 carries for 630 yds and 5 TDs plus 6 receptions for 51 yds), Receiver Jauan Jennings (40 receiptions for 580 yds and 7 TDs plus 5 carries for 27 yds) and returning talent on the line as well.

On Defense the Vols return Seniors Colton Jumper, Cortez McDowell and Elliot Berry along with Junior Darrin Kirkland. Between them, these four were responsible for 15.5 Tackles For Loss. Elliot & Evan Berry (S) are the younger brothers of current KC Chiefs Safety Eric Berry. Last season the defense struggled while enduring a pile of injuries. One would expect a healthy squad to improve performance this year.

I fully expect this to be an old-fashioned SEC football game. Both offenses will struggle early trying to find their rhythm while the defense throws everything and the kitchen sink in to disrupt in any way possible. Will our Dawgs reverse the recent trend and best the Volunteers? Magic 8 Ball says Signs Point to Yes. The Bulldogs have the edge under center and in Offensive Coaching experience. They’ve simply had the time necessary to come together on the same sheet of music. I expect to be singing a happy tune when time expires.

Podunkdawg’s prediction: Georgia 34 Tennessee 31.*

Until next time...

GO Dawgs!

*I never make any public predictions that involve anything less than a Georgia Bulldog victory, now please pass me the kool-aid, I’ve already got my clear liquors & fruit.