The Tennessee Vols finished last season with a 5-7 record thanks to two straight losses to end the season.
Tennessee played well at the end of 2018, but they essentially ran out of gas in late November. The lack of depth and experience was too much for the Vols to overcome in games against Missouri and Vanderbilt.
The Vols are in a similar situation this year. Tennessee has a 5-5 record with two games left to play. And those games are, once again, against Missouri and Vanderbilt.
However, there seems to be more optimism this time around that UT can finish the season with wins against the Tigers and Commodores.
That’s thanks mostly to a well timed bye week for the Vols.
Tennessee is off this week after a tough win against Kentucky.
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt told reporters this week that his team is pretty banged up at the moment. As a result, Pruitt altered the practice schedule a bit this week to allow some time for rest and healing.
#Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed his team is really banged up and that some players definitely won’t practice much if at all this week during the open date, but he declined to go into specifics regarding which players.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) November 13, 2019
There’s also the experience factor. A lot of the players on the roster remember what it felt like to finish the 2018 season on a two game losing streak. They remember the feeling of failing to reach a bowl game.
Pruitt on Vols being better in second half: Experience.
— Volquest Staff (@Volquest_Rivals) November 13, 2019
There are certain players on the team — specifically players like senior wide receivers Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, along with senior linebacker Daniel Bituli — who seem poised to lead Tennessee to a seven win season, no matter the cost.
The experience and determination, combined with the chance to get healthy/rested late in the season, has the Vols in prime position to finish the season with five SEC wins for the first time since the 2015 season (and only the second time in the last 12 years).
There’s still work to be done for the Vols, but they have a chance to turn a disastrous start to the season into a tremendous, if not improbable, finish.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports