Tennessee Volunteers Spring Practice Preview: 3 Storylines To Watch

    Tennessee Volunteers spring practice preview for 2017. Here are three storylines to watch when the Volunteers hit the field on March 21.

    March 17, 2017

    Tennessee Volunteers spring practice preview for 2017. Here are three storylines to watch when the Volunteers hit the field on March 21.

    The 2016 season was, by Tennessee standards, a massive disappointment for the Volunteers. Entering as favorites to win the SEC East and contend for the conference title, a large amount of injuries and bad losses haunted Butch Jones’ squad down the second half of the season.

    Jones is still in charge, but the Volunteers have a lot of question marks, including replacing long-time starter at quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who graduated. The expectations will be lower for the Big Orange this season, but on Rocky Top, another lost season could be the end for Jones’ tenure in Knoxville.

    With the Volunteers starting spring practice on March 21, here are three storylines to watch leading up to Orange and White Game on April 22.

    Tennessee Volunteers Spring Practice Storylines

    1. Who Is Under Center?

    As mentioned before, Dobbs is gone, and for the first time since 2013, the Volunteers will have to find a new starting quarterback to lead the offense. As practice begins, the contest seems to be down to Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano.

    Dormady has sat and watched (and hopefully learned) as a backup to Dobbs the past two seasons, and the offense philosophy should not change much despite offensive coordinator Mike DeBord leaving after the season due to tight ends coach Larry Scott taking the position.

    Guarantano, meanwhile, redshirted last season and has a lot of hype behind him. The 6’4 205-pound New Jersey native just recently spent his spring break working with quarterback guru George Whitfield, and has a big arm that has a lot of Volunteer fans excited.

    Both Sheriron Jones and Will McBride will get a chance to compete for the job, but whoever takes the next step toward becoming the starter must show leadership that will be missing with the departure of Dobbs.

    2. Other Big Replacements

    Unfortunately for the Volunteers, Dobbs is not the only key player that they have to find a replacement for during the spring and heading into fall. While finding someone that is as tough and tenacious as defensive end Derek Barnett might be a lost cause, Tennessee must find someone to step up. One name that should be watched out for is Jonathan Kongbo, who could make a big leap and become the next great defensive end to play in Knoxville.

    Both Jalen Hurd (transfer) and Alvin Kamara (NFL Draft) are gone, but the running game seems to be strong with John Kelly coming back after impressing in his sophomore year. After seeing more action late in the season, Kelly finished with 630 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

    3. The Team’s Mentality

    Let’s just say this: things have been better in Knoxville than they are right now. Jones is basically in a must-win situation this season or faces the axe, and the roster and coach turnover doesn’t’ help maintain the consistency. How will the Volunteers prepare when nothing is expected of them? Florida and Georgia – and maybe even Kentucky – are going to be the darlings of the SEC East in 2017, so how will Jones and his staff get this team both physically and mentally prepared will be a big item to watch.

    Basically, will the Volunteers lay down, or will they rise up and become a contender again?

    MORE: SEC Football Predictions, Storylines For 2017 Season


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