Dean Legge / Dawg Post

Legge's Thoughts: 2016 Tennessee Preview

HOOVER, Ala. – Here's a look at Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones and the Vols heading into the 2016 season.

Last season: 9-4, (5-3 SEC)

Last game vs. UGA: UT 38, UGA 31 in Knoxville

Series Record: Tennessee leads 22-21-2

Last five years vs. UGA: UGA 4, UT 1

Most memorable Georgia win: 2001 – Mark Richt, David Greene and Georgia arrive on the SEC by shocking Tennessee in Knoxville for the first time in 20 seasons. It was Tennessee's only loss of the regular season. 

Most painful Georgia loss: 2006 – Down 24-7, Tennessee rallies for a 51-33 win in Athens. The stunning win for the Vols in Athens was the second upset in the row for the Vols over the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. 

Legge’s Take: I’m going to vote the Vols No. 1 in my SEC pre-season poll because they have the most-talented team in the division. But I have to admit that I am not super confident in my choice. 

To be clear, when looking backward it is clear that the Vols should have been the team to represent the SEC East in Atlanta last December. But they fell on their face - a fourth-quarter collapse in back-to-back weeks against the Gators and Hogs - and loss to Alabama. When you have the schedule the Vols have (a yearly fight with the Tide, Dawgs and Gators) you can’t give away any games.

The back-to-back SEC collapses came only two weeks after Oklahoma got away with the very same thing in Neyland Stadium. That was the Vols’ trademark heading into the UGA game. But this time the Vols’ surged past Georgia 38-31 in one of the classic comebacks in that series’ history. 

The Vols then won five games in a row to close out the season, but it was against poor competition as the best team they beat in that time was Vanderbilt. 

What the Vols have going for them is a hell of a tandem at running back in Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Hurd is the workhorse, but Kamara is a legit SEC back with impressive explosion. QB Josh Dobbs has been very up and down in performances, but give the Vols another running weapon. After all, Dobbs did have 2,962 total yards last season. 

The Vols’ defense is pretty good, too. Last season it allowed only 20 points a game. All of those things add up to Tennessee, for the first time in a very long time, being the favorite in the East this year. 

Will they actually win the division for the first time since 2007? That remains to be seen.

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