The expectations for Tennessee football in 2020 will probably be higher than they were in 2019. Obviously until a true drop off year, the expectations will be raised each season and coming off an 8-5 or 7-6 season (depending on the bowl game result) it will be no different. Though the schedule will arguably be tougher, an 8-4 or 9-3 season is where I see the bar being set.
Tennessee does not lose an outstanding amount of talent and production at any position outside of wide receiver. Although the key players they are losing are very familiar names like Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, Darrell Taylor, Daniel Bituli and possibly Trey Smith. This whole senior class redeemed themselves in the second half of this season and will most definiently be missed.
We can talk about the positions that we are losing players at all day, but personally I’m more concerned with a position group that only improves. We’re going to enter an interesting offseason for the quarterback position with Jarrett Guarantano saving his season this year and highly touted Harrison Bailey coming in (assuming he signs). Six weeks ago, it was basically assumed that Jarrett Guarantano would not be returning for his senior season. He was benched for two unproven Freshmen and was welcomed by boos every time the coaches touted him out onto the field. And after he called his own number on the goal line vs Bama, some were wondering if he would still be on the team the following week. Yet, despite all the controversy Guarantano redeemed himself and led this team to 5 straight wins after the drama in Tuscaloosa.
While I agree that Guarantano’s comeback this season was amazing, but it doesn’t change the fact that there still might be better options in 2020 for the QB position. During those 5 straight wins Guarantano was very effective, but he still had his obvious issues. What I am most worried about is how Guarantano will look once he loses 3 of his biggest targets and his best offensive linemen. I think to get the most out of this offense in 2020 Tennessee needs to at least consider change at the QB position. Every other area of the team will be fine, but changes at this position is the only thing that will affect the win-loss record in my opinion. With Harrison Bailey possibly coming in the spring, I am hopeful that the coaches will let him compete for the starting spot.
Lastly, I will give you another reason to be optimistic about the 2020 season. This team will have more players recruited by Jeremy Pruitt than it ever has. Each year a coach gets more of his guys in, fans should be excited. These are the players he wanted, so next season needs to be a showcase year for Pruitt if he wants the fan base to be sold on him.
Record Prediction: 8-4