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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“More winnable game for Tennessee….WVU or Florida?” – @gmannVOLS
Nathanael: It’s definitely Florida for me. I don’t think West Virginia is quite as good as some do, but I do think they’re better than Florida. I don’t think the Gators will be all that great this year, and I think the Vols will be fairly evenly matched with them just like last year. I think UT has a much better chance to beat the Gators than the Mountaineers.
Will: 100% Florida. West Virginia has a Heisman candidate at quarterback and Tennessee’s weakness is its inexperienced secondary. And the Florida game is in Knoxville. It isn’t really close.
“If you had to choose a best case scenario for Tennessee’s overall season for wins and losses what would it be?” – Nathan
Nathanael: The absolute BEST case that’s realistic to me would be…10-2. But there’s like a 0.5% chance of that happening. They would have to beat one of either Alabama, Georgia, or Auburn for that to happen and to beat every other team on their schedule. It’s not totally impossible, but it’s highly, highly improbable. I’d say a more likely best case scenario is 9-3.
Will: 8-4 for me. Ty Chandler would need close to 1200 rushing yards. Jarrett Guarantano has to take a gigantic step forward. And the secondary will have to play 100% better than last year. I think 6-6 is certainly more realistic target. If this team makes a bowl game, it’s a successful season.
“Who’s closer to winning a natty, Vol football or baseball?” – @htcook1999
Nathanael: It’s football. Even with as down as football has been, it’s football. The SEC in baseball is even more difficult than it is in football, and the Vols baseball team would have to get past SEC teams not only in the regular season and in the SEC Tournament, but also in the NCAA Tournament and likely in the College World Series too. Neither is close to winning a national title, but I’d give the slight edge to football.
Will: I think it’s absolutely baseball. Because there isn’t a Nick Saban coaching baseball in the SEC that Tennessee has to play every year. Tony Vitello is recruiting really well and he brings back a really good pitching staff next year. I think that team makes the NCAA Tournament next year. And when you make the tourney, anything can happen. Mississippi State barely made the SEC Tournament this past year and now they’re in Omaha. That’s much more likely to happen than Tennessee somehow getting past Nick Saban in the next three years.
“For Vols to have a top 5 recruiting class they have to out recruit Southern Cal, Texas, OSU, Penn State, Clemson, Miami, FSU, Bama, LSU, UGA, UF and Texas A&M. So are expectations too high for Pruitt?” – @oleg_zeltser
Nathanael: Nope. If Butch Jones can do it (his 2015 class was No. 4 per 247Sports), then Jeremy Pruitt can do it too.
Will: I’m with Nathanael here. Given his classes in the past, top fifteen this year certainly isn’t out of the question.
“Do you think they will flip Tagovailoa from his Bama commit? I’m just curious because either McBride or Guarantano or both could transfer.” – @BoKeck1
Nathanael: I remain very skeptical of UT being able to flip the younger Tagovailoa in the 2019 class away from Alabama. It’s certainly possible, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for it happening. I do think Tennessee has a few backup options if they can’t get him to flip, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much if they don’t. But I would put it at about a 10-20 percent chance of happening right now.
Will: There’s a chance, but it’s going to be awfully tough. We’ll see. I’d say the Vols have about a 25% chance.
“What type of year will Kongbo have?” – @THISISBOCTN
Nathanael: I still don’t think he’s going to have a great year even with his alleged position change to linebacker. I just don’t think he fits the outside linebacker role as effectively as someone like Darrell Taylor or Quart’e Sapp. He’ll probably do better than he did last season, but I don’t expect more than four or five sacks from him total.
Will: It’s hard to really have a good answer here. I don’t think anyone has a clue. If he slims down a bit, Kongbo can be a solid third down pass rusher. But I don’t think he’s as effective as an every down player. The good thing is, he’s versatile. And that’s an important trait in Jeremy Pruitt’s defense.