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March 2, 2012
SEC Spring Preview: Tennessee
The next time Missouri plays a game it will be as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Over the next few weeks, PowerMizzou.com will introduce Tiger fans to their new league. We will do a question and answer session with our counterparts at each SEC school prior to spring football. Today, take a look at Tennessee with Brent Hubbs, the publisher of Volquest.com.
Obviously the last couple of years aren't what Tennessee fans are used to. How close are the Vols to turning things around?
Hubbs: I think this is a better roster for sure. If Justin Hunter returns to form after a torn ACL a year ago and Tyler Bray returns to where he was before breaking his thumb then there's no reason why the Vol offense shouldn't be explosive. They must run the ball better and must be more dynamic at the running back position. They were too easy to tackle a year ago. The unknown for this team is on defense and how does it look. The arrival of former Alabama assistant coach Sal Sunseri as the defensive coordinator means that Tennessee will go from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4. History says that transition takes at least a year so how quickly they can adjust to a new scheme is going to be interesting to watch.
What are the strengths of this team headed into spring ball?
Hubbs: Offensively if healthy they should be able to really stretch the field vertically in the passing game. At the start of last season before Hunter's injury there wasn't a more explosive passing offense in the SEC.
What are the weaknesses?
Hubbs: The unknown on defense is a lack of depth at linebacker. On offense, it's been an inability to run the football and in the kicking game they haven't punted or placekicked with the consistency you need.
How much heat is on Derek Dooley to win this year? What does he have to do over the next couple of seasons?
Hubbs: He's under heat/pressure. As he would say everyone in college football is. You look at last year and Akron, Memphis and Kansas all fired coaches after just 2 years. Fans don't have the patience they once did. Also, Dooley did himself no favors when his team lost to Kentucky last season.
What is the view from Knoxville about Missouri's entrance into the SEC? And what advice do you have for Tiger fans making the trip in November?
Hubbs: I think SEC fans see an explosive offense coming into the league. And there's plenty of curiosity about them. Honestly, I think the SEC fans feel like they know Texas A&M better and the Aggies may be more of a natural fit. It was interesting in that a lot of fans really took note of how the Tigers played in their bowl game. East Tennessee is a beautiful place with mountains, rivers, lakes etc. If you're into hiking the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is one of the most visited parks nationally. There's good golf in the area and there are plenty of traditions to see such as the Vol Navy and other game day traditions that make Tennessee unique.
Brent Hubbs is the site publisher and covers Tennessee football for Volquest.com.