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Insider Mailing: Back In the East Race Edition

Photo Credit: Anne Newman/RTI
Photo Credit: Anne Newman/RTI

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

“If JG doesn’t get the starting spot next season, will we see the third 5* transfer under CBJ?” – Trip Hiller 

Daniel: Guarantano actually wasn’t a five-star according to the four main recruiting sites, but I get the intent of the question. I would be surprised if he bolted that quickly.

If I’m Butch Jones, this is my pitch in that scenario: “Competition will remain ongoing, and you’ll still have the inside track to be the starter for two years even if Dormady is the starter in 2017 and 2018. We’ll build a package in the offense for you to get you some meaningful reps in the meantime, and just look around the SEC – about 10 out of the 14 programs have used multiple quarterbacks this year due to injury or coach’s decision.”

Nathanael: No, he won’t transfer that quickly. I’d be utterly shocked if he did. Guarantano would stick around 2017 at least and try to unseat Dormady all season and then again in the offseason. And yes, as Daniel said, there’s always the option of them using a dual-quarterback offense in that scenario.

“Maybe I expected too much out of Shoop, but do you see any huge improvement from Jancek’s defense?” – @JustJTD

Daniel: No, most of the major numbers are similar, if not worse than last year. Fourth-down defense is the only area I see a huge jump. Tennessee is only allowing a 29% conversion rate as opposed to 75% last year. But obviously you have to take the injuries into account here. Jancek had the services of two senior safeties, an NFL-caliber junior cornerback, an NFL-caliber junior outside linebacker and at least 3-4 healthy defensive tackles last year. Shoop hasn’t consistently had any of that, and he’s been down to his third or fourth team guy at some spots at times.

So while the defense hasn’t been exactly what I thought it would be, I am more inclined to give Shoop leniency because of all that, and because of the numbers he’s put up in the past. Year 2 will be big for him, however. It won’t get any easier once Derek Barnett goes pro.

Nathanael: I’ve heard a lot of debate about this recently, and I’ll build off what Daniel has said in defense of Shoop’s defense.

Injuries have absolutely played a part. We won’t know how much of a factor they’ve played, but I’m willing to bet they’ve held him back from what he’s wanted to do on multiple occasions. I also think the fact that Shoop couldn’t bring in any assistant coaches he wanted has been an issue too. I think we’ll see a few changes on both sides of the ball this offseason, but if Shoop stays as defensive coordinator, I think Butch Jones will allow him to go out and get a couple guys who he meshes better with and who fit his system better.

But no, there hasn’t been much of a difference between this defense and Jancek’s so far. But I think there are reasons for that. We’ll see next year as long as Shoop returns.

Ben Miller Loans

“Under the radar Vol from this year you think will shock people next, like Abernathy.” – @MaxTE34

Daniel: I’ll be interested to see what Austin Smith can do coming off the edge if he can get healthy. Quart’e Sapp is another interesting guy to watch on defense. I don’t know what his best path to playing time is, but I think Daniel Bituli will see the field more in some capacity next year as well. Offensively, I think the light will come on more and more for Marquez Callaway, and I think he and Tyler Byrd could turn into a really strong receiving duo down the road.

Nathanael: I don’t think Tyler Byrd is much of a stretch, so I’ll try to go even more off the radar and say someone like Brandon Johnson will have a solid season on offense for the Vols next year. He’s already been asked to do more this year than I thought he would (I thought he would redshirt this season), and I can see him making some plays next year. On defense, I’d also say Sapp or Bituli like Daniel point out with Marquill Osborne being a possibility too considering how much help they’ll need at corner next year.

“Did Trump win the Vols Media demographic?” – @neylandmafia

Daniel: There’s some diverse political thought in the media room based on my limited conversations in that area, but I would project Trump as the winner of the UT media demographic.

Nathanael: I would say yes, he probably did.

“Is UT now the favorite in the SEC East?” – Kevin Cumberland 

Daniel: If I had to bet on it, I’d reluctantly pick UT, but I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite. I don’t completely trust Tennessee to take care of business down the stretch, but I certainly don’t love Florida’s odds either after last week. I wouldn’t be stunned to see some kind of insane four-team tie either.

Nathanael: At this point, I don’t think so, no. I don’t think Florida is either. Like we saw in several battleground states in the U.S. election, I think Tennessee and Florida are in a dead heat. I think both teams win this weekend, so I don’t think we see much movement. Things won’t be decided until the Gators take on the Tigers in my opinion. But then the Vols have to beat both Missouri and Vanderbilt. And do these Vols exactly inspire a lot of confidence based on what you’ve seen? So no, I’d say right now it’s a dead heat.

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