Publicly, the Tennessee Vols’ biggest goal in 2018 is to a lay solid foundation for the future of UT football.
But make no doubt about it — reaching a bowl game is absolutely Tennessee’s biggest goal this season.
The win against Auburn, considered before the season an “unwinnable” game for the Vols, was a huge step in reaching bowl eligibility.
Tennessee, however, still has to win three more games this season, with only one “for sure” win left on the schedule (November 3 against UNC-Charlotte).
While the Vols are certainly improving, it’s still very possible they could fail to reach six wins season.
One reason I’m a bit skeptical of whether or not the Volunteers can reach six wins is because of their slow starts to games this season.
Tennessee was never going to be Alabama last Saturday. But they didn’t really “show up” until they were already down 28-0.
The slow starts are something that UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt mentioned on Monday during his weekly press conference.
Pruitt on slow starts: For whatever reason, our execution has picked as the game has gone on. We gotta figure out a way to score some points in the first quarter.
— Orange & White Report (@OandWReport) October 22, 2018
The Vols have scored only 16 points in the first quarter through seven games this season. 13 of those points came agains East Tennessee State and UTEP (the other three points came against Auburn).
It’s going to be hard to win the two more conference games necessary to reach six wins without putting points on the board in the first quarter.
For whatever reason, Tennessee’s offense doesn’t seem to get going until their backs are against the wall.
I think that’s a sign of a team that’s still dealing with some immaturity. There has to be a certain business like approach to the beginning of a game. It feels like it takes the Vols a full quarter to get settled in.
That’s a trend that absolutely has to stop moving forward. Pruitt and his offensive staff have to figure out a way to get Tennessee’s offense operating at full speed from the first whistle.
I think as the team grows, you’ll see this be less and less of a problem.
But if the Vols are going to a bowl game this season, it’s an issue that needs to be rectified sooner rather than later.
Featured image via UT Athletics