1. SEC East Favorites
The main reason Vol fans should be excited for the 2016 season is because for the first time since maybe 2007 or 2005, the Vols will be the favorites to win the SEC East. And it’s about time.
Tennessee finished the 2015 season with a 5-3 conference record and finished second in the East, its highest finish in the division since winning it in 2007. But because of all the proven talent they return next season and with how down the rest of the East appears, the Vols very well could be the favorites to win the East come SEC Media Days.
The Vols’ main competition will likely be Florida, just like in the 1990’s. But the reason Florida won’t be the favorite even after winning the division in 2015 is because of giant question marks on offense. The Gators lost Will Grier to suspension after he tested positive for HGH, and their offense was never the same since.
In six games with Grier on the roster, the Gators averaged 32.2 points per game and were 6-0, including that infamous 28-27 win over Tennessee. In the eight games after Grier’s suspension, however, Florida averaged just 16.5 points per game and only scored 24 combined points in its last three games.
Tennessee will return the most proven talent in the East in 2016 and will have the most experienced quarterback by far. And the hype goes beyond just the East. The Vols will likely be good enough to compete with and possibly beat whichever West opponent will face them should they make it to the SEC Championship. And given the East’s performance in the title game the last three or four years, that would be a change.
Vol fans haven’t had expectations this high for the Vols in about a decade. And if that doesn’t excite you for the season, then nothing will.