2008 Media Days: Legge's Look at Tennessee

BIRMINGHAM – Here's a look at the day Tennessee Head Coach Phillip Fulmer and the Vols had at the SEC's annual Media Day event. Tennessee finished first in the SEC East and won the Outback Bowl last season.

Last season: 10-4
Last game vs. Georgia: 35-14 win
Series Record: Tennessee leads 20-15-2
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: 2007 – Tennessee slams Georgia 35-14 in perhaps the worst loss of the Mark Richt era. The loss cost Georgia the SEC East and without question a shot at the national championship. Starters returning: 14

Best player: Eric Berry
Biggest Weakness: Have to replace a very good college quarterback
2008's big questions: These guys flew under the radar and figured out how win the SEC East last year – they were picked third this year… can they jump up to win the East again? Can

Inside the numbers vs. Georgia (as seen in the Dawg Post Season Preview):
Tennessee has always been known for running the football and playing defense. Those two departments struggled for the Vols last year – most notably the defense. The Vols allowed 403.3 yards per game in 2007 – better than only Ole Miss in the SEC. As bad as that stat is, the Vols were down just the same in rushing offense. Traditionally at the top of the conference in that category, Tennessee finished last season ninth in the SEC and 73rd nationally with only 139 rushing yards a game. In their heyday the Vols were used to racking up almost 200 rushing yards a game. Tennessee may have won the SEC East last season, but many folks felt like Florida and Georgia were better teams when the SEC Championship Game kicked off. If Tennessee is going to win an SEC championship for the first time since 1998, they are going to have to improve in both categories.

Recruiting Implications:
Smaller and smaller each year. There was a time when Tennessee was the Dawgs' number one nemesis on the recruiting trail – the 1990s. Year after year the Vols would sign the top talent in Georgia – Jim Donnan didn't seem to have the answer. But Mark Richt, using the upset victory over the Vols in 2001 as a springboard, pushed Georgia to the SEC Championship in 2002. Tennessee never recovered in Georgia after that. The Vols fight for their share of players Georgia isn't overwhelmingly interested in, but for the most part Georgia keeps Tennessee at bay. The talent level for high school prospects is low in the Volunteer state – Georgia does not usually recruit that area of the country very hard. Notable Georgians on the Tennessee Roster: Eric Berry and Chris Scott. Notable Tennesseans on the Georgia Roster: None.

Last year's prediction: The Bulldogs simply can not play the way they did in the second half of this game last season (2006), but that goes without saying. It may go without saying, but Georgia sure didn't seem to remember that they were playing a football game last October in Knoxville. Everything went Tennessee's way from start to finish. The game was the most brutal beaten Mark Richt's teams have ever taken at Georgia.

Legge's must-win game for the Vols: October 11 at Georgia

Legge's projected SEC finish: 3rd SEC East

Legge's All-SEC Vols: Anthony Parker, Arian Foster, Rico McCoy and Eric Berry


Dawg Post Top Stories