KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The votes are in, the SEC’s 14 football information directors have spoken, and Tennessee is expected to have a quiet season.
The annual poll taken by AL.com/The Birmingham News predicts the Vols will be the league’s 14th-best team this season in Coach Jeremy Pruitt’s first campaign.
Alabama was picked first, followed by Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M.
South Carolina, Mississippi State, Florida, Missouri and Kentucky rounded out the top 10.
Tennessee is coming off the program’s first-ever eight-loss season, finishing 4-8 and 0-8 in SEC play.
The Vols were dogged by an uncharacteristically high number of injuries for a second-straight season. More Tennessee starters missed starts due to injuries than any other program.
A closer look reveals the Vols could have easily won three league game last season. Poor red zone execution led to last-minute losses to Florida and South Carolina.
Tennessee’s defense collapsed in the final minute at Kentucky, the loss that sealed the fate of former coach Butch Jones, who was fired when the team fell to 4-6 two weeks later.
It took a cascade of poor play and bad luck to lose to the Gators, Gamecocks and Wildcats. It seems highly unlikely that could happen again.
Just to be sure, Pruitt has defined one offseason goal to develop Tennessee players as better finishers.
Mike Griffith and Josh Ward discussed the SEC predicted order of finish from the football information directors, and how outrageous it seems to be where Tennessee is concerned.