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Insider Mailing: Almost Christmas Edition

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

“What is a realistic expectation for where the defense ends up 2017 season?  Top 50, 25, 10, or 5 defense?” – Jeff Cook

Nathanael: I certainly am not putting the lofty expectations on this defense next season that I did for this season. Next year’s defense will have more depth issues, less experience, and probably less talent. I think it will help if Bob Shoop can get some assistants in that mesh well with his system, but I even hesitate to say it will be a top 50 overall defense.

Daniel: I’d say start with getting in the top 100, which UT isn’t currently ranked in terms of total defense. They’ll be better at defensive tackle if guys can get healthy, but I think defensive end should have some drop off. Linebackers have a chance to be better than what was on the field for most of this season. Safeties should be better, but corners might not be as good. Year 2 under Shoop should help, and some staff shakeups might give the defense a boost, but the Vols enter 2017 with a lot of questions on this side of the ball. I think top 50 would be a great accomplishment.

“Would I be subject to FBI investigation by sending a “strongly worded” letter to the Chancellor over the UTAD fiasco?” – The Narcissist Cowboy 

Nathanael: Depends on what all you say to them I suppose. But I understand the frustration with how long it’s taking. Doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult of a decision.

Daniel: I’m sure they’ve been sent some crazy stuff, so you’d probably be ok. I don’t know that I’d put it at fiasco level yet. We’ll see how it plays out.

“Where is Rogue One on your SW rankings?” – Blake McLaughlin 

Nathanael: My updated Star Wars rankings as of Rogue One coming out:

  1. Empire Strikes Back, 2. New Hope, 3. Rogue One, 4. The Force Awakens, 5. Return of the Jedi, 6. Revenge of the Sith, 7. Phantom Menace, and then way down at the bottom is 8. Attack of the Clones

“Why is Myles Garrett hyped up so much (possible #1 draft pick) compared to Barnett? Barnett got majority of his sacks in SEC play. Myles got majority of his in out of conference games (I believe).” – @waltspacher2044

Nathanael: It mostly has to do with Garrett’s build honestly. And it’s not like Garrett is a bad player; Garrett is still one of the best pass rushers in the country. But he has the more desirable NFL build as a defensive end than Derek Barnett. Garrett is listed as 6-foot-5, 269 pounds while Barnett is listed as 6-foot-3, 265 pounds. Garrett has more of a “bend” to him off the edge and has a few more intangibles that NFL scouts drool over than Barnett. I personally value production over potential, but it is what it is for NFL scouts.

Daniel: You’re correct about the statistical comparison. Barnett has 29 sacks in SEC play in his career, while Garrett only has 12. NFL analysts are making the same mistake they did in the draft lat year when they ranked guys like Connor Cook and Christian Hackenburg over Dak Prescott. They valued guys who had more of the traditional look of a prospect at that position over somebody who made a lot more plays. Now, production and stats can’t always be the only criteria in evaluating prospects because scheme, level of competition and things of that nature come into play. But Barnett checks every box – he’s played well against the best tackles in the nation, he’s fought through double and triple teams, and he’s been more productive at a high level while doing all that. Garrett has a ton of upside as a prospect, but I think Barnett is the better choice of the two.

“How should Vol fans feel about the BasketVols’ close losses to ranked teams?” – Bryan Shrader 

Nathanael: Pretty optimistic honestly. I get the frustration that they’re not pulling off the victories just yet, but this team is comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores. Give them this year to grow and mesh together, and it will pay off next year. I truly believe that.

Daniel: I don’t like telling fans how they should feel, but my personal observation has been that this team is better than I thought. That doesn’t mean that losing should be the standard. This team, however, isn’t and never looked to be a tournament-caliber one. So the fact that, with one of the youngest rosters in the country, it is battling with some of the best teams in the nation is encouraging to me. SEC play will be the determining factor. If this team is able to go .500 or better in the conference, I think Rick Barnes certainly has them going in the right direction and expectations should rise for this program heading into 2017-18. But if they finish near the bottom of the league again, then I’d just look at the close losses as examples of them not getting the job done.

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