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Insider Mailing: Coaching Apocalypse Edition

Georgia Game-13

What are the chances Jones would bolt to Michigan if offered the job? – Barry Tharp

I think Butch will be at UT for the long haul. That said, after all the weird crap that’s happened regarding UT coaches since Fulmer was forced out, comfort me and other Vol Fans and tell me why this won’t be a Kiffin situation when Michigan comes open? While we’re talking coaches, top-3 candidates to replace Muschamp down in Gainesville? – Thomas from Atlanta, Ga

Daniel: Ah, the $4 million questions. We hit on the Butch Jones/Michigan report pretty thoroughly yesterday. We gave five reasons we don’t think he would go and covered his statement about it that he made after practice last night. So check those out for sure, but to address it here, my gut is that it just never gets to him at Michigan. I think he would be somewhere like seventh or eighth on their fairly realistic list. Even after the Harbaughs and Les Miles, I think they go after Dan Mullen, Mike Gundy, Art Briles, Gary Patterson and others with better resumes before getting to Jones. Could they get that far down on their list? Sure. But even if they do, I’m not sure if they’d be comfortable with Jones’ Rich Rodriguez connections, and, at the end of the day, I just don’t know if he wants to go. He might. It could be a raise (though I think UT would match) to go back to his home state and an area that he and his staff are largely more familiar with. So, personally, I can’t rule anything out for anybody, but I can give a lot of reasons I don’t think it will happen and say that the percentage of that happening is fairly low. As for Florida candidates, I’ll throw out Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy. Welcome back, silly season for coaching changes.

Reed: This is fairly simple for me. I think Michigan will gauge Jones’ interest. I think Jones would take that call. I don’t think Michigan would offer him the job but, even if they did, I don’t think Jones takes it. He’s building a very good roster at Tennessee and has the chance to compete for an SEC East crown in the coming years. Michigan is a disaster right now. Rich Rod, who’s a VERY good coach, couldn’t win enough there to keep his job. That place is toxic and Jones knows it. He also knows he’s got the potential for something special here.

As for the Florida job, I’d like to nominate Derek Dooley and Lane Kiffin as candidates.

So, Dooley is better than Butch but Michigan wants Butch, did I get that right? – @BucketheadTN

Houston: I think you know how I feel about this. Derek Dooley is not a head coach and that was obvious when nobody scooped him up after he was fired here. He is an adequate receiver coach at the NFL level…but even I could coach Dez Bryant.

Reed: I’m with you, Buckethead, in finding humor in this situation. A portion of Vol fans are actually ticked at the job Butch Jones is doing while a portion is also fretting about him potentially bolting for another job. I’ve even seen overlap in the two groups. It’s a reminder that fan is short for “fanatic” and schools don’t teach critical thinking.

Brett Kendrick performed admirably last week at OT. Why is Coleman Thomas perceived better? – Gary Huntzinger

Based upon guys playing their natural position…what really is the “best 5” OL that the Vols can put out on the field? – @robbieu007

Daniel: I assume you mean by the coaching staff, because we don’t perceive Coleman Thomas is better than Kendrick at this point. Kendrick hasn’t been perfect (he was at least partially responsible for the first sack against Alabama), but there’s no denying that the line just seems to produce when he’s in there and he should get a fair shake to start. This is the line that I think makes the most sense (L to R): Kendrick, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson and then let Thomas and Jacob Gilliam battle for the right tackle spot, pending who’s feeling healthier and playing better in practice. And that’s nothing against Jashon Robertson, he’s done a good job this year considering his circumstances, and would be first off the bench, I just think that five I mentioned puts everybody in the best position to be successful right now.

Reed: Like Daniel, I think Kendrick’s play is a bit underrated. Tennessee’s best two games up front (Arkansas State and Alabama) have come with Kendrick at left tackle. He’s had good and bad plays, but there’s no doubt he’s been better than Kerbyson at left tackle. Kerbyson is an SEC-level guard and played well when he’s been at his natural position. I agree with Daniel on the best five, but would also try to work in Wiesman or Jackson (if he can snap the ball) at center. Crowder has been get man handled a bit there.

Gut feeling from you guys…one year from now, who is the Vols starting QB? I have a feeling Jennings comes in and wins the job. – Clay Green

Daniel: I’ve been itching to proclaim Dobbs as the guy, but just wasn’t sure if his improvements in practice would translate to the field or not. He answered that question for me against Alabama. We’ll see how he holds up when defenses fully prepare for him and I like what Jauan Jennings is doing in high school right now. But I’m saying Dobbs is the man a year from now if he’s healthy.

Houston: I firmly believe that Josh Dobbs will be the starter for the next two years barring injury. His skill set is what this offense needs and he is an incredibly smart player who will have no trouble learning new tweaks and schemes as Bajakian adds them. I think that this offseason will be very important for Dobbs to get bigger/faster/stronger and be ready to be the leader of this team next season. All of his teammates seem to really like and respect Dobbs and appeared to respond extremely well to him when he entered the game against Alabama.

It’s important to remember that Dobbs had seen very few first team reps this season before Justin Worley’s injury, so while his success against Alabama came against a team that likely hadn’t prepared for him, the same could be said in reverse for Dobbs. He had some real success against a talented Alabama defense that he didn’t know he was going to play against until the middle of last week.

Reed: Before the Alabama game, I had Dobbs as the leader in the clubhouse to start game one next year and nothing about his play changed that for me. He’s got to take care of the ball down the stretch and execute some routine plays, but he put up more yards against Alabama than Worley’s career high for an SEC game and clearly has loads of potential. He’s the leader unless he really struggles down the stretch. Jennings doesn’t look like he’ll get to enroll early, which will hurt his chances to come in and start game one.

How many more recruits are we allowed to have or do you see us getting? – Dustin Partain

Houston: I’ve heard that the number would be as high as 26-27, but this is an ever-evolving process. At the end of last season it appeared that Tennessee would only have room to bring on 18-22 players in this class, but players leaving over the summer and current Vols graduating in December have/will free up some spots.

The Vols currently sit at 26 commitments for 2015, so I think there will be some movement down the stretch. I certainly think Tennessee will add a few more players to this class while probably also losing a few that are currently committed – that’s just the nature of recruiting. I also think we could see some potential gray/blue-shirting in this class or having certain players come in as preferred walk-ons.

Do you think that time missed for injuries will help some freshmen avoid “hitting the wall?” – Doug Brooks

Daniel: Quite possibly. Tennessee does play a lot of freshmen, but only a few of them have played huge roles in every game. Derek Barnett and Jashon Robertson are really the only two that come to mind as guys who have played in a vast majority of snaps every single game this year. Some guys like Ethan Wolf, Coleman Thomas and Jalen Hurd have seen some kind of lighter load due to injury at some point and then some of them such as Josh Malone or Emmanuel Moseley have kind of been eased into more playing time. I think next week’s bye week comes at a good time to help as well. It’s going to happen some and it already has for a few guys, but I think you make a good point that injuries might actually be a blessing in that regard for a few of the guys.

Do you guys think we hang on to Preston Williams? Also, what all recruits are enrolling early? –Parker Zollman

Houston: I do. Preston is a guy who likes the attention that comes with being a star recruit and he is enjoying the process, but I do not think that Preston Will change his mind before signing day. This coaching staff has done an incredible job of building relationships with the players who commit early and Williams is no different. Coach Azzanni went to his nationally televised game a few weeks ago to see Preston play in person and Williams has sported a Tennessee Vols skullcap and receiver gloves in every game this season. Now, it’s recruiting, and there’s always a chance that something changes, but, as it stands, I expect Preston Williams to be a Vol.

Here’s the list of early enrollees for Tennessee’s 2015 class as of today:

Andrew Butcher
Quinten Dormady
Dylan Jackson
Jack Jones
Alvin Kamara
Stephen Griffin
Chance Hall
Shy Tuttle

I believe Tennessee will have enough room to sign as many as 11-13 players who will enroll early, and I expect them to do just that. There are some players who are currently committed who could potentially enroll early if they can take care of business in the classroom over the next few weeks, and Tennessee still has some uncommitted prospects who will enroll early to their school of choice. Stay tuned.

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