Why 2016 is Tennessee’s Year

With college football, and football in general, coming back soon, it’s never too early to start predicting who is going to win the championship. That’s what we’re doing here at Athlete’s Hub, so who is our pick to win the NCAA championship in football? The Tennessee Volunteers.

Yes, the same Volunteers who didn’t even make a bowl in 2013. Why? Read on to see why I think that Tennessee will win the title.

To start things off, let’s look at the SEC East, the division of the Volunteers. Last season it was won by a 10-2 (regular season) Florida team, however, Florida will not be as strong as they were last season. 

They lost a couple of amazing defensive backs seeing as Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal were the second pair of SEC defensive backs taken from the same team in the NFL Draft since 1967. They were both actually taken in the top-20, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Hargreaves with the 11th pick and the Atlanta Falcons took Keanu Neal with the 17th pick. 

This hurts the Gators greatly considering their offense, which struggled to produce last year, didn’t gain much on signing day. The lack of offense showed in games against inferior opponents such Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt, considering they went to OT with Florida Atlantic and only won 9-7 against Vanderbilt. 

They also struggled against teams like Florida State and Michigan, where Florida scored a combined 14 points in the 2 games.

The only other real threat is Georgia, who have their own problems. To start off, they now have a new coach. They also lost almost half their defense and 3 offensive lineman, so there isn’t much to be happy about if you’re a Georgia fan. 

There is a small light as Nick Cubbs is coming back, but he’s coming off of several torn ligaments (including his PCL), so there are plenty questions surrounding him, and most people aren’t even sure if Cubbs will be able to play next season.

In simple terms, Tennessee has the least amount of questions going into the season. Butch Jones has only improved since coaching UT, as he went 5-7 in his 1st season, 7-6 in his 2nd season, and 9-4 in his 3rd season. 

The biggest loss as far as players was WR Von Pearson, but that doesn’t hurt UT much, seeing as they have a deadly three-way ground attack. 

Their defense is intact and have the most experience (as a whole team) in the SEC, and arguably the entirety of college football. In the most recent regular season, Tennessee went 8-4, however lost those games by a combined 17 points, with the biggest loss being a double OT loss to eventual playoff contender, Oklahoma in which they lost by 7. 

Other losses include eventual nation champion Alabama (5 points), Florida (1 point), and Arkansas (4 points). They did, however, win their bowl game against #13 ranked (at the time the game was played) Northwestern with a score of 45-6.

They have been able to upgrade on the coaching side of things as well, hiring new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Shoop, for those who don’t know, has had his teams (Penn State and Vanderbilt) defense in the Top 25 and even had Penn State at the 2nd best defense in the nation in 2014. Things are looking good on Rocky Top, believe the hype.

Image Credit: USA Today Sports

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