We answer your question about the Vols or anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing. If you have questions about anything in the mortgage process, go to BenMillerLoans.com.
“Perception is the passing game is what can hold UT back, is there any way both receivers and Dobbs aren’t better this year?” – @JTRocky 21
Erik: No, they’re all a year older, second year under the same coordinator. By default, we will be better throwing. How much better remains to be seen.
Daniel: I agree with Erik in principle that there should be improvement. That doesn’t stop it from being a concern, in my opinion. I think UT still has a pretty fundamental matchup issue when it faces Florida, Alabama and possibly others.
These receivers have not shown that they can get off the line and get separation against top corners the caliber of Jalen Tabor (Florida), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), etc. If that trend continues, it’s going to make UT one-dimensional against those teams. UT’s run game is special enough that it will give the Vols a chance even if that happens, but improvement in the passing game could make this offense borderline unstoppable.
Stephen: To echo what the other guys said here, the passing game will definitely be better this year. But so will the run game for that matter. And make no mistake about it, this team is a run-first team right now. So while the passing game will be better, I still don’t think Tennessee will suddenly be passing the ball 50 times a game.
“Would it be worse for Jalen Hurd or Alvin Kamara to suffer a significant injury this season for the Vols?” – Leonard Rollins
Erik: Not answering, terrible question, everybody stays healthy.
Nathanael: Man, way to bring down the energy, Leonard! But hey, good question all the same. I think if you were to lose one (and I hate answering this question), you’d rather lose Kamara. Hurd is the guy you need to get the tough yards that make the difference in the ballgame. Obviously you don’t want to lose either, but I think the Vols could survive losing Kamara more than Hurd.
Stephen: This question is like asking which one of your kids would you rather get hurt, so I can’t really answer. I want them both to stay healthy and I honestly think Tennessee will need them both. It doesn’t matter which one were hurt, Tennessee would struggle without them either way.
Daniel: Wow, what a soft bunch here afraid to even address a question about injuries. I think you can make an argument for Kamara, but if you had to choose, you’d rather have Hurd stay healthy. Kamara is going to do a lot, but Hurd is still the one UT wants on the field in the big moments.
“What would happen if a reporter told Butch Jones he was using too many cliches during a live press conference?” – @TyK8606
Erik: He would tell them that they’re being a poor individual.
Daniel: Paging Seth Stokes to see if we can make this happen. I’m not going to try it. But seriously, I think it would all depend on time and context. If somebody said that after a crushing loss, he might flip over the table and go insane. If it’s during a casual, early-week press conference, he’d probably laugh it off.
Nathanael: I’d say that reporter probably wouldn’t be back for another presser after that. Not unless it was really well timed, Butch was in a good mood, and the reporter was well-liked. Otherwise…I just wouldn’t come back if I were them.
Stephen: I honestly don’t know what would happen. But if it were well-timed and not after a game (win or loss), I honestly don’t know what the worst thing that could happen would be. It’s not like that media member would suddenly go missing or something. I think at the worst, that reporter would be told by a UT Admin to not ask those kinds of questions. But frankly, I don’t even think that would happen. And Butch, if you’re reading this, why DO you use so many cliches?
“Which player can have a breakout season for UT that no one is talking about?” – Ryan Hickson
Erik: Ethan Wolf. Not even on the All-SEC ballot at SEC Media Days.
Daniel: It wouldn’t stun me to see Tyler Byrd become a big piece at wide receiver. Corey Vereen, Kendal Vickers, Justin Martin, Chance Hall and Darrin Kirkland Jr. are some other somewhat-under-the-radar names that I think could have huge years.
Nathanael: Rashaan Gaulden. I think he gets the other safety spot alongside Todd Kelly Jr. and really produces this year.
Stephen: More of the same. Ethan Wolf, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Rashaan Gaulden, and even Todd Kelly Jr. should all be in for amazing seasons and none of them are really being talked about. I think a case could be made for any of them but Kirkland and Kelly have the highest potential in my opinion.
“Which improves more in ’16: the defense under Shoop, or Dobbs’ passing attack?” – Patrick Gipson
Erik: The defense under Shoop, but both of them only need a little bit of improvement. Neither was terrible, they just need slight improvements for us to be very, very effective.
Daniel: I’ll say the defense. I think it can jump from the No. 7 overall unit in the league to top three this year. The passing game should be better, but I still think it’ll be a middle-of-the-road unit in terms of SEC ranking.
Stephen: Defense. That’s not to say Dobbs won’t improve at all because he definitely will. But Shoop has had really good defenses with less talent than he has now. I think anything less than a top-20 defense would be a disappointment.
Nathanael: I’ll make it unanimous and say the defense. I think they need to improve more than Dobbs does at passing. At least overall. Tennessee can be successful on offense even with a smaller improvement from Dobbs. The defense needs to improve more than just a small amount. Not a great deal, but still more than Dobbs does.
“If VOLs win less than 10 games is Jones and the entire staff kicked off of Rocky Top?” – Chris Peterson
Daniel: I think 7-5 or worse could lead to some serious hot-seat talk. An 8-4 performance would leave a lot of people unhappy, but I think Jones would be ultimately be ok. Some people may not love 9-3, depending how it happens, but he’d be fine. If Dave Hart is the AD in December and 2016 isn’t a complete disaster, Butch Jones will be UT’s coach in 2017 if he wants to be.
Erik: No, no, no, no.
“What Pokemon would Kongbo be?” – John Forsyth
Nathanael: Ah, my time to shine I see. I’m gonna go with one of three: Nidoking, Polywrath, or Machoke. If you don’t know who any of those are, go look them up. They apply, I promise.