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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“Was happy to see the use of TEs as fullbacks during the O&W scrimmage…gut feeling is UT will be using more of the Stanford style offense instead of USC’s offense with Chryst coming in. Am I wrong?” – Scott
Nathanael: I think your gut may be right on this. I also don’t think Tennessee has the personnel to run the offense that Helton helped orchestrate at USC. They probably don’t have the personnel to run Stanford’s either, but I think they’ll try to do more of that type of stuff since Chryst was acclimated to it more. It just depends on what Helton feels more comfortable running.
Will: I don’t think anyone can really predict what this offense is going to be. There will certainly be more pro concepts, but I expect a multiple set similar to what Helton ran at USC.
“Any more graduate transfers coming? Any transfers out of the program before the season?” – Andrew
Nathanael: I originally thought Tennessee wasn’t going to bring in any more grad transfers, but with the news that they canceled the official visit of JUCO OT David Swaby this weekend because they have someone who “for sure is going to join” makes me rethink that. As for transfers OUT of the program: I do think you’ll see a couple this offseason. I don’t want to name anyone specifically here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was someone or multiple players on defense.
“Can we win 5 games?” – @richtravis13
Nathanael: Absolutely. I don’t foresee another 4-8 season for the Vols this year, and a 5-7 season would actually surprise me a little too. I’m siding on a 6-6 record for Pruitt in his first year.
Will: I’d say that’s the expectation at this point. We’ll see just how underutilized this roster was last year. I think there’s definitely potential for six or seven wins.
“Will the 2019 recruiting class be dissapointing like 2018?” – @wild_bill_cosby
Nathanael: First of all, I want to say that I don’t think the 2018 class was disappointing. The National Signing Day was disappointing, yes. Tennessee’s coaches made last ditch efforts with tons of highly-rated players and missed on pretty much all of them. Fans got their hopes up. But the class as a whole was still a top-20 overall class and has several players who will make immediate impacts this season and others who should be able to contribute down the road. With that being said, I don’t think the 2019 class will be disappointing. Wanya Morris should be able to spark this class, and I fully expect it will be a top-15 overall class.
Will: Last year’s class wasn’t disappointing first of all. I think it’ll be a top ten class this year, though. Starting with Wanya Morris, who just got his fifth star, isn’t bad.
“Why is Darrin Kirkland Jr. a senior? He played his freshmen year then he missed two seasons because of injury. Shouldn’t he have gotten a medical redshirt like Jennings?” – @htcook1999
Nathanael: That’s a very good question, and I don’t really know why either. I had that same question when I was looking through their roster the other day for an article. He missed the entire year last year, so he should’ve redshirted. I don’t know if it matters a ton because I think he’ll head to the NFL after this year if he has a good season regardless, but still.
“Reasons why I shouldn’t think our defense will be a complete disaster this upcoming season…” – @thestonechisel
Nathanael: Tennessee’s coaches on that side of the ball are just better. Period. They’re perfectionists, and the strength and conditioning program is already improving UT’s players, especially on defense. The Vols’ defense still won’t be in the top half of the SEC this year in my opinion, but it won’t be the disaster it was last year and in 2016. I don’t think they’ll have nearly as many injury issues this year, and that was a big reason why they had so many problems the last two years.
Will: The linebackers are good. That’s a major plus. I’m not sure there’s much optimism for the secondary. Especially given the quarterbacks Tennessee will face this season. But the coaches are excellent, and Pruitt is the guy you want coaching those DBs.