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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“Why can’t we have nice things?” – Ryan
Nathanael: There’s a lot to blame, fortunately. You can blame the “Fulmer Curse” or Dave Hart or Butch Jones or any number of things.
Will: At least we have the Predators. Be grateful.
“Is the coaching staff actually going to put Guarantano in a position to succeed unlike what they’ve done with him previously?” – Sam
Nathanael: That’s the biggest question I have as well. I think the changed needed to be made, but it’s not going to matter if they don’t let Guarantano use his abilities and give him opportunities to succeed. Because in his limited action so far this season, he hasn’t really been put in solid situations that set him up for success. And if he has any hope of keeping this starting job or at least impressing, the coaches need to play up to his strengths.
Will: I think they will. It’s time for UT to finally use more option schemes with the quarterback. Guarantano only has to run for 20-30 yards in order for defenses to at least think about covering him instead of John Kelly. JG is the guy, and there needs to be no doubt. He’s the future of this team, so you ride with him no matter what happens on Saturday.
“Can you have a close family locker room and fight each other?” – Chris
Nathanael: Nope. Not unless that fight brings everyone together somehow. Because unless that’s the case (which I highly doubt), then there’s been a lot of contradicting statements being said by Butch Jones lately when it comes to team chemistry and whatnot.
Will: Yeah, I think so. Fights happen. But they only get reported when you’re losing. That being said, this locker room seems more toxic than most. Butch Jones may have lost this locker room, but I’m not sure this team has turned on itself quite yet. There’s still a lot of football left for that claim to be proven right or wrong.
“Is Mike Bajakian to Butch Jones what David Cutcliffe was to Phil Fulmer?” – Brian
Nathanael: Not to the same level as Cut and Fulmer, but I’m beginning to wonder that myself. This has been and still remains Butch Jones’ offense, don’t get me wrong. I’m convinced the offensive coordinator is little more than a title at this point under Jones. But Bajakian was easily the most creative of Jones’ three OCs while at Tennessee, and he certainly seems to be doing well in the NFL right now.
Will: He didn’t have the same level of success, but that’s certainly an interesting comparison. I think Zach Azzani was more important to this team than we may have realized. And that starts with recruiting as well. Butch has shown that he only wants his offensive coordinator to run his offense. So it’s going to be hard for him to find a young, up-and-coming offensive mind to improve things. He and Bajakian seemed to work well together based on their familiarity with each other. Butch thrives on that.
“Biggest dumpster fire: college basketball scandal or things going on around Vol football?” – @yaboydoc
Nathanael: Oh it’s definitely the college basketball scandal. That thing is so much more far-reaching than Vol football. It’s bad in Knoxville right now, but that FBI investigation into basketball has the potential to rock a ton of boats.
Will: College basketball, and it isn’t close. That’s the biggest collegiate sports scandal since SMU, but it may end up being even bigger than that.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how well has Butch adhered to the First Rule of Tennessee Fight Club?” – Andrew
Nathanael: Is it possible to go negative on this? Because all he does is talk about Tennessee, and it’s getting him headlines. Just not the headlines Vol fans want.
“Favorite part of the new Star Wars trailer?” – Reed
Nathanael: I want to just say “all of it,” but I’ll say all the parts with Luke because we barely saw him at all in Force Awakens, so I’m happy to see he’s apparently going to play a significant role in The Last Jedi.