Insider Mailing: Much-Needed Bye Week Edition

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    We answer your questions 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.

    “Who’s likely in & who’s likely out for South Carolina game?” – @FoxBullet12

    Daniel: My best guess: Malik Foreman, Cortez McDowell, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Brett Kendrick, Chance Hall, Jashon Robertson and Micah Abernathy will all play. Cam Sutton, Alvin Kamara and Dylan Wiesman (and obviously the guys confirmed out for the year) will not. Still very early and speculative though.

    Nathanael: I agree with who all Daniel said. I think at least three of the four offensive linemen who were out will be back, and so will Kirkland. I think it’s finally his time to come back. The Vols will hopefully get Abernathy and McDowell back too, along with some depth guys

    “UT has dominated 2nd halves physically (except Bama), but do all the injuries mean we have a strength & conditioning problem?” – Bobby Brown 

    Daniel: I think it’s a combination of factors. Some of it, I truly believe, is simply catching some bad breaks. I think some of it is also how many tight games the Vols have played, and the large number of snaps the starters have had to play. There hasn’t been a gimme-type game where the starters were out by the third quarter, and the four-game gauntlet UT just played is one of the toughest in the nation this year.

    In terms of strength and conditioning, I do agree that the Vols have looked good from a conditioning standpoint all year up to Saturday, so I don’t think it’s a situation where they are incompetent in that area. They’re going to have to continue to evaluate it, however, because when you have about 14 guys down, everything has to be under the microscope.

    Nathanael: I’m not sure you can blame it all or even most of it on strength and conditioning. That’s an easy go-to answer, but such things in life are rarely just as easy as that. I think, as Daniel said, it’s a combination of factors. Some have been truly unlucky injuries. Others, I can see why and how the strength program has been questioned. Personally, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal. I do think UT has the resources to get the best S&C coach in the country (outside of Alabama), and that in interim is odd. But I don’t think that’s solely to blame either.

    Ben Miller Loans

    “Given all the injuries can we expect the “M.A.S.H.” theme song to be played before games?” – Trip Hiller 

    Daniel: That would certainly be appropriate. Maybe play it for third downs when players you haven’t heard of run on the field.

    Nathanael: Well apparently Alan Alda (who played Hawkeye in the show) is coming to speak at UTK. I kid you not. So that couldn’t be more appropriately timed.

    “How many sacks will Barnett have by the end of the season?” and “Who is the better cornerback? Derek Barnett or Jalen Tabor? Barnett has 2 pass break ups and a pick.” – Randall Smith

    Daniel: Two things we know about Derek Barnett: He gets a lot of sacks against SEC teams, and he heats up later in the season. That bodes well for his numbers this year. He’s averaging 1.5 per SEC game so far this year, so if he can keep that average up, he would have six more, and that doesn’t even factor in the Tennessee Tech game (which I don’t think he’ll play a ton in). So, conservatively, I think there’s a good chance he gets at least five more, which gives him 11 on the regular season. If he could get one more in the postseason, he’d tie Reggie White for the school record. And yes, he’s shown some DB skills, but not sure you want to line him up there regularly.

    Nathanael: Right now, Barnett has six sacks on the season. All six of those have come in Tennessee’s four SEC games. He’s also just seven sacks away from breaking UT’s all-time mark of 32 held by Reggie White. I bet you he knows that, so I’m going to say he gets seven more sacks down this five game stretch. And Tabor is obviously the better corner, but Barnett is just so impressive, isn’t he?

    “What are the odds the Vols can win out?” – @SolidVolFan

    Daniel: Per ESPN’s Football Power Index, it’s 12.2%. I’d say that’s a little low. I plan to pick them to win every game from here on out, but with the way they played down to competition earlier in the year, I don’t know that any game outside of Tennessee Tech is a lock.

    Nathanael: As Daniel said, ESPN’s FPI gives them barely a 12% chance. I’d say they’re selling low on the Vols because of injuries and inconsistent play. With the way this team has played, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they slip-up somewhere down the line and take a loss to one of these teams. However, I’m not predicting that to happen. They absolutely should win out.

    “Any word as to who will be our Power 5 non conference opponent in 2019-2020?  I’m sensing a major home-and-home.” – Doug Brooks

    Daniel: Not sure (thanks Ohio State). It’ll be interesting to see if the new AD likes the philosophy of these neutral-site Power-5 games, because that’s what UT’s had on the schedule this year through 2018. I’d be all for another Pac-12 home-and-home series.

    Nathanael: There’s nothing concrete at all right now, but I would love to see another Pac-12 team like Daniel said. Or finally getting to see a UT-UT battle between the Vols and Texas. In all likelihood, we’ll just get a neutral site game against a mid-tier opponent like the Vols have lately.

    “Are rumors of Dormady transferring true?” – @BWLee18

    Daniel: I would be surprised if he didn’t stick around to compete for the job after this season.

    Nathanael: Seth Hughes has struck again. No, the rumors aren’t true. Not at this time.