clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Everything is going wrong for Tennessee football all at once

Good morning! This is the Read Option, your daily college football newsletter. Sign up for this in your inbox!

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

It was all good just a month ago, when Tennessee was 5-0 and ranked No. 9 in the country.

Not even a month ago, I wrote that they'd become 2016's "comeback masters." Things changed quickly, but they still might end the season with more memorable comebacks than anybody else; that's how wild that first month was.

Even after dropping a game, they still had enough of a shot at the SEC East title that Florida's briefly canceled-ish game against LSU became a major concern for UT.

In September and early October, the Vols' biggest problems were starting games slowly and an over-reliance on turnovers. Oh, to have those problems again, huh?

This three-game losing streak is just one part of it

The Vols' season turning point came in overtime at Texas A&M, when they nearly pulled off their fifth double-digit comeback in six games and established themselves as one of the best zombie teams in recent memory.

The zombies were put down. They then got buried beneath an avalanche of Bama before coming up short at South Carolina, which meant falling to a miserable 0-5 all time against Will Muschamp and losing to a QB who was supposed to be a high school senior this year despite having college senior QB Josh Dobbs.

The Vols catch a timely break against Tennessee Tech (which is also what we thought about their bye week after playing Bama), but then risk suffering the indignities of losing to a surging Kentucky or Vanderbilt, whose three SEC losses came by a single score each. I'm skipping Missouri, because things can't get that bad, right?

Transfers and rumors of transfers

A midseason transfer isn't uncommon, but the Vols might be looking at a small wave of them.

Starting running back Jalen Hurd, who's been banged up this year:

According to the original report by WNML radio in Knoxville, Hurd might want to play WR or TE. A new position at a new school as a senior would be a lot of change. Hurd is 6'4 and was never the most explosive running back, but has contributed in the passing game before, most notably with 35 catches as a freshman.

And former five-star WR Preston Williams transferred out a few weeks ago, with no set destination yet.

As for whether any more things are coming here, the online rumor mill is milling.

And here's sophomore lineman Jonathan Kongbo referencing retirement, after the Vols' loss ...

... but that was apparently a tweet regarding video games.

Kongbo, who's from Congo by way of Canada, hasn't contributed much to the stat sheet, with just three solo tackles this year. Days prior to this tweet, head coach Butch Jones praised the lineman and affirmed his role on the team.

Injuries, so many injuries

Tracking all the Vols' injuries will be a project for the end of the season, but a couple weeks ago, we found 15 injuries that have cost games for startersThe Vols entered South Carolina without two defensive backs who were projected to start, and then reportedly lost defensive lineman Shy Tuttle for the year.

The Vols have been obliterated at linebacker, both lines, and in the secondary.

Oh, and Hurd's exit would mean even more of a rushing load on Dobbs and some minimally tested players, as Alvin Kamara recovers from two knee injuries suffered in one game.

And even recruiting is among the new concerns

Rocky Top Talk includes the 2017 class in its Tennessee trend watch:

The best data we have now suggests that a team needs more than half their recruits to be blue chip (i.e. four or five-star) recruits in order to have championship talent. And Butch Jones has been getting the Vols very close to that threshold, with blue chip ratios of 50%, 46%, and 45% in his first three full classes. The 2017 class, on the other hand, currently has twenty-five commitments and a paltry 24% blue chip ratio. For reference, that's worse than either of Derek Dooley's full classes. The 2017 class has been a concern for a while, but many recruitniks believed that an SEC championship appearance and a top ten finish would buttress Jones' sales pitch and help pull in a fourth straight top ten class. But now that Tennessee's East hopes are on life support and an unranked finish is more likely than top ten, it's officially time to worry about whether Jones and company are letting Tennessee's talent fall behind their SEC rivals.

Sheesh, man.

CFB in your inbox, everyday, for free!

Get an original mini-column on the college football thing of the day, plus news, links, and fun stuff!


Michigan's the latest to get the Bill C imperfections check, and there is so very little to worry about.

Here's our top four ahead of the year's first Playoff rankings release. The only quibble today will be whether Michigan or Clemson is No. 2.

There are new polls. Washington State is in the AP one.

BTW, the Big 12 is almost out of the Playoff race, and its performance in non-conference play is a huge reason why.

Local hater Richard Johnson power ranks the conferences after Week 9, with the Pac-12 doing the most to escape his scorn.

The Shutdown Fullcast celebrates a weekend that saw four unbeaten teams lose. Wait, that sounds mean.

How Ed Orgeron is making LSU more like a Pete Carroll program.

Bama opens as a touchdown favorite at LSU, among Week 10's lines.

Jimbo Fisher is $20,000 lighter after a real good sideline rant and postgame rant about the refs.

This South Carolina field-stormer is nine seconds of pure joy.

Baseball season started already, huh? Well, Jim Harbaugh's in the stands with a glove.

PREVIOUS: Did some bowl projections! Nobody's mad about them this week, relatively!