The Tennessee Vols’ surprising loss to the Georgia State Panthers will never go away.
For the next couple of decades, the loss will be regularly mentioned on College GameDay. Vol fans will see the highlights every time a Sun Belt team plays a Power-5 opponent.
But the pain of the loss will eventually subside for Tennessee fans. And that process could start on Saturday night against BYU.
There are two specific things that can happen on Saturday night that would totally change the perception of the Vols in 2019.
Scenario No. 1
The first thing that can happen that would make Vol fans feel better is obvious (at least I think so) — Tennessee needs to go out and dominate the game.
If we see a UT team that wins the line of scrimmage and controls the running game, it’ll be a huge step forward for the Vols. But that’s not all we need to see. We also need to see Jarrett Guarantano make multiple plays down the field. We specifically need to see wide receiver Marquez Callaway more involved.
Defensively, we need to see some swagger from the Volunteers. Some fire.
Against Georgia State, Tennessee was confused, out of position and flat. There were some obvious communication issues. If the Vols want to prove last week was a fluke, they need to do a 180 with their demeanor on the field. And it absolutely starts with the defense. Nothing will fire a team up faster than a quick three-and-out.
Scenario No. 2
This is the only scenario that I truly believe will make Vol fans view the team completely different.
Let’s say the Vols get to halftime against BYU and they’re down a couple of scores. At that point, Jeremy Pruitt decides it’s time for a quarterback change. Either Brian Maurer or JT Shrout comes into the game and just absolutely lights the field up and changes the demeanor of everyone else on the field, leading Tennessee to a comeback win.
At that point, I think a lot of Vol fans would feel like they found a true leader for the team (outside of Jauan Jennings). For now, a quarterback with a killer instinct is what Tennessee has been lacking (and I definitely think Guarantano lacks a killer instinct). I’m not nearly as down on Guarantano as some others, but I don’t think the rest of the 2019 Vols are good enough to make up for JG’s deficiencies.
Erasing the pain of a loss to Georgia State shouldn’t be easy. There hasn’t been a more painful loss in recent years for the program.
But Tennessee can certainly start the healing process on Saturday night against BYU.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports