Normally a couple of days after spring football ends, college football fans have had at least a few of their questions answered. That doesn't appear to be the case at the University of Tennessee. Following Saturday's Orange and White game in Knoxville, Volunteer fans are still shaking their heads wondering just how good or how bad are these guys? The Orange team easily defeated the White squad 34-7,
Looking back at last year's 4-8 debacle, there is no question that Tennessee was the worst team in the SEC.
For the first time in school history, the Vols failed to win a single SEC game. That's what first year head coach Jeremy Pruitt inherited from Butch Jones. A team with marginal talent , poorly developed and soft. A team that couldn't win and didn't really even know how to win. Pruitt's main goal is to reverse that less than mediocre performance.
Obviously Coach Pruitt was not happy with his teams defensive effort and defense is his thing. He was also not happy with the way his team warmed up but he said he did appreciate the effort once the scrimmage got underway. Rising sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano put up better numbers against Vol defenders in the spring game than he put up in any game he played all of last season. That's the good news. The bad news is, he put up those numbers against his own teammates.
There were more than 68,000 fans in attendance for the game, the third highest in the SEC this spring, behind Georgia and Alabama. Even though that was one of the biggest crowds to see a spring football game, Coach Pruitt wasn't happy. He shamed the Tennessee fans because he felt as if more fans should have been in Neyland Stadium. It seems that he needs to take the same advice I've been offering Vol fans for quite some time-be patient.
So now the speculation begins. The next four months will be full of questions and few real answers about the 2018 Volunteer football team. Questions like, does senior transfer quarterback Keller Chryst have what it takes to unseat Guarantano as the Vols starting quarterback? Will they have anything at all resembling a running attack? Can the defense stop anyone at all or will they be as bad as last year? These are the questions most Tennessee fans want answered. And they're not going to be answered until fall camp opens in August.
What I do know is this: The Vols will be better than last year but not much. Pruitt simply hasn't had enough time to recruit enough talent to compete in the SEC. He has created a new sense of competitiveness and eventually they will compete in the SEC. A 6-6 mark is attainable in 2018 which would place Tennessee in a bowl game. That's about it. I don't need some of those questions answered to know that Tennessee football is as bad as it's been in a hundred years or more. That is a simple basic truth. And all the speculation in the world can't change it.
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org