Insider Mailing: Spring Practice Is Here Edition

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    Photo Credit: Will Boling/RTI

    We answer your questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.

    “Chances we repeat against both FL/GA next season?” – @UmbrAndrew

    Daniel: Possible, but below 50 percent. I don’t think Florida will be great, but Tennessee hasn’t won in The Swamp since 2003. I do think Georgia will be better, and even though that one is in Neyland, it’s going to be tough. If I had to bet right now, I’d say they could at least split them, but I’m not willing to predict a repeat of that sweep.

    Will: I think there’s a better chance Florida and Georgia sweep Tennessee. Until Tennessee beats Florida in the Swamp, I’m not going to count on a UT victory down there. A quarterback starting for the first time in the Swamp is never a good recipe for success. There’s certainly a better chance of beating Georgia in my opinion, just because the new QB will be much more confident in the offense.

    Nathanael: I would be shocked if the Vols beat both of those teams again in 2017. It can happen, yes. But I’m with Will on this one: I think there’s a better chance the Vols get swept by those two teams than Tennessee sweeps them. Those two games are two of the four losses I believe Tennessee will have in 2017.

    “Should Holly Warlick be fired?” – Erzhan Cochran 

    Daniel: It’s a tough call. I don’t think she will be because I think John Currie will want some time to evaluate the program before making such a significant move right off the bat. There’s no sugarcoating it: The program isn’t where it should be. Losing in the second round is far from the standard for the Lady Vols and the inconsistent play over the past two years has been frustrating and unacceptable. But I think making two Elite Eights in the past three years, combined with the fact that this next recruiting class is loaded, should and will buy Warlick at least one more year.

    Will: Holly has earned herself one more year to be fairly evaluated by John Currie. With such an elite recruiting class, you have to think things will probably get better next season. But there’s no excuse next year. When you bring in the top recruiting class in hoops, that gives you the ability to immediately compete. Holly has to next year, or else I think it’ll be the end.

    Nathanael: Yes, I believe she should be fired. But will she? No, she won’t. Everyone is citing her No. 1 recruiting class as a reason she should/will be kept around another year. But has she proven she can develop talent while being a head coach of the Lady Vols? In my opinion, no, she hasn’t. Not consistently enough. I would sooner trust a new coach to develop those freshmen than Holly. I don’t think Holly is a terrible coach. Because she’s not; she’s just not a great fit at Tennessee. Which is insane to think about considering she played and coached under Pat Summitt for decades before taking over after Summitt stepped down.

    “Do you think freshman DL will have to step up given our depth issues?” – @RockyTopBrickSquad

    Daniel: Yes. Jonathan Kongbo, Kyle Phillips and Darrell Taylor are really the only three returning defensive ends that I think UT feels pretty good about putting on the field at this point, and you can never have enough defensive tackles, especially with the way they’ve gone down for UT in recent years. So finding 1-2 newcomers for the rotation at end and tackle will be really important. It’s not a dire situation at this point, but at some point in 2017, some of those new guys are going to need to play.

    Will: I think a couple guys will have to step up, but no more than maybe two or three. Deandre Johnson is still a little undersized to come off the edge, but a guy like Eric Crosby is coming into the program already at the right size. I think outside of Crosby and Matthew Butler, you may not see too much of those freshmen. Of course, if injuries become an issue again on that front, the freshmen will have to step up.

    “The over/under on Cuonzo’s win total in year one at Mizzou?” – Jake Wallman 

    Daniel: I can’t say yet because it depends on which of these highly-ranked guys he’s in on come with him to Missouri. If he gets somebody like a Michael Porter Jr., then I think he’ll have a shot to have a competitive team. He’s not an elite coach, but he’ll be a big upgrade for Mizzou.

    Will: I’ll say 13. That program is in complete shambles no matter who they bring in next season after winning eight games this year. I am in the minority that Cuonzo got a bad rap at Tennessee and is better than UT fans would like to think. Getting over 13 wins would mark solid progress in year one.

    Nathanael: If Cuonzo can bring in the bounty of prospects in this recruiting class that he’s projected to, I think Missouri wins 15 or 16 games this upcoming season. That’s not incredible, but considering the Tigers have won a total of 27 games the last three years combined, it would be a massive step forward. Cuonzo isn’t worth the kind of money Mizzou is paying him, but he’s absolutely an upgrade over Kim Anderson. And he can help rebuild the Tigers. Now, will he get them to a Sweet 16 or Elite 8? I have more doubts about that.

    “Is @SwainEvent (Jayson Swain) as nice as he seems on radio or is he like Wayne Brady on the Chappelle Show skit?” – @neylandmafia

    Daniel: Outside of being a vegetarian who loves Duke, UNC, Kentucky and Kansas in basketball and cheering for all the wrong professional teams, he really is a nice guy. He has the Rick Barnes-like quality of being a straight shooter in any situation.

    Nathanael: Swain is ruthless, merciless, and stone cold.

    I’m just kidding, he’s a nice guy off the air as well. As Daniel said, he shoots it straight on air and off. You always know where you stand with Swain, and I greatly respect that and appreciate it.

    “What are the odds Jalen Hurd ends up going to Mizzou to play basketball for Cuonzo Martin?” – @UmbrAndrew

    Daniel: Zero percent, but if it somehow miraculously did happen, 100 percent chance that it breaks Vol Twitter.

    Will: He’d be a better small forward than tight end if you ask me. This needs to happen.

    Nathanael: This should never have been a topic to begin with (Hurd coming to Tennessee I mean). But Andrew, I wholeheartedly hope this happens because, as Daniel said, that would cause such a glorious breakdown of Vol Twitter that we would never forget it.