UGA's 2011 Opponent Series:
Ole Miss |
2010 Record: 6-7, 3-5
2010 Finish: Fourth in SEC East
Head Coach: Derek Dooley (6-7 first year; 23-27 overall)
Basic Offense: Multiple
Basic Defense: Multiple
Starters Returning: 13 (7 offense/6 defense)
Q&A with Rob Lewis of
Q - How much better can Tyler Bray get in his second year as the Vols' quarterback? Does he remind anyone of other former UT quarterbacks from the past?
A - "To hear Tennessee's coaches talk, he has a ton of room for growth because according to most, he was simply flying by the seat of his pants when inserted last fall. The coaches estimated that he had less than half the playbook to work with as a freshman. Any young quarterback obviously has a ton of growth to do on the mental side, but simply based off what he showed when he was essentially dropping back and winging it, excitement is high about what Bray might be able to accomplish with a full offseason to grow in the system.
There are some comparisons to Erik Ainge who had a strong freshman season and was also a tall, skinny kid from the West Coast. Bray has a different demeanor than Ainge, very much a 'California kid,' and as most Vol fans will point out, Ainge stumbled in his development as a sophomore. Something they hope Bray avoids."
A - "That duo, along with Bray, really has Tennessee fans feeling good about the potential of the offense. Hunter is an exceedingly mature young man, and was unusually prepared for the college game from a mental standpoint. His acrobatic catches provided some of the biggest highlights from an up-and-down year. As good as Hunter is, Rogers may be a better pure athlete, he just wasn't as polished as a freshman when it came to some of the finer points of playing receiver.
Rogers seemed to make up some ground in the offseason though and really turned heads this spring. Tennessee fans definitely have visions of these two stretching defense and making loads of big plays. Right now those visions are based off potential, but the talent is definitely there."
Q - "Tennessee's defense will be better than perhaps some believe if ........?
A - "If junior-college defensive tackle Mo Couch comes in and has a tremendous and immediate impact. The Vols have some 'gritty' guys in the trenches, but they're appears to be a shortage of those sort of havoc-wreaking performers that can occasionally blow up plays on their own. It's also goes without saying that junior safety
[tdbJanzen Jackson[/db], the only elite SEC (defensive) player on the current roster, has to return to the team in good standing in August.
Q - What's the latest on Janzen Jackson?
A - "Ah, speaking of...Derek Dooley said last week in Destin that at present Jackson is on track to return to the program in July and enroll in the second session of summer school in Knoxville."
Q - What was the overall assessment of Coach Dooley after his first year as the Volunteers' head coach?
A - "First off, the honeymoon will be over soon and Dooley will need to show real progress in the win column and against the Vols' main rivals, including UGA certainly. 'Crunch time' is probably a year away though, and for now my strong impression is that Dooley has been warmly embraced by the majority of the Tennessee faithful. He didn't exactly have a tough act to follow in that regard, given how Lane Kiffin departed. Also in that vein, the fact that he's got deep Southern roots that clearly show--and he makes no attempt to hide -- doesn't hurt in that respect."
Q - Prediction time. What kind of year do you expect the Vols to have?
A - "It's early yet--and this is contingent upon Jackson returning--but I'll go with a safe 8-4 right now. The offense is young, but clearly talented. Problems aren't hard to find on the defensive side however, which is where most of the heavy attrition from the Kiffin fallout can most clearly be seen on the depth chart."