Season Report Card: Tennessee Volunteers
However, there were signs of hope in Knoxville, and that may have been enough to keep Tennessee fans intrigued at the future possibilities with Jones running the show.
A season after the firing of Derek Dooley, the Vols went 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the SEC. A mid-October win over then No. 11 South Carolina was undoubtedly the highlight of the season, and one that showed that the potential is certainly there for this program to return to its glory days.
With that in mind, let's check out the report card for the Vols this season:
Had Tennessee been able to find consistency at the quarterback position, they probably would have won a few more games. Justin Worley proved that he wasn't the answer at QB before suffering a season-ending injury in late October, and when true freshman Joshua Dobbs came in to replace him, it didn't get any better. But, Rajion Neal made plays in the running game which helped. Not to mention the emergence of wide receiver Marquez North as a future playmaker for this offense.
Think about this: Over a four week stretch starting in mid-October, the Vols played South Carolina, Alabama, Missouri, and Auburn. Not exactly four bad offenses there. They managed to make plays against the Gamecocks, but when you add in games against other loaded offensive teams in Georgia and Oregon, this defense had a ridiculously tough slate to face. However, they better find a way to improve against spread offenses next year, as they looked pretty inept against it.
Special Teams: C
There's nothing particularly glaring that stands out on special teams, as Michael Palardy did fine handling the kicking and punting duties.
Jones did have a good crop of talent to work with in his first season, but it wasn't good enough to overcome a grueling schedule. Tennessee was the least penalized team in terms of yardage in the SEC, so that speaks to the discipline being implemented by Jones.
When you play six games against teams ranked in the Top 11 in the country, you're going to be fighting an uphill battle. Even more so when you have a new head coach trying to instill his vision of what the program could be. Despite facing massive struggles at times on both sides of the ball, Jones has a fantastic recruiting class on the way that could keep the momentum heading in the right direction in Knoxville.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Tennessee football? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!