Now it’s time for the good news and the “orange-colored glasses” scenario. What if Tennessee defies all odds and goes out and “shocks the world” in 2018?
The most realistic best-case scenario for the Vols doesn’t see them going 12-0. Even the most optimistic of fans probably doesn’t see Tennessee, realistically, going better than 2-3 in their brutal five-game stretch starting with Florida and ending with South Carolina.
Now, those teams could suffer some injuries or attrition and not be as good as everyone is expecting. But we can’t assume that right now. Just approaching Tennessee’s season as it is right now, the best-case scenario for the Vols in 2018 is probably a 9-3 season.
In this case, Tennessee either opens up the season with an upset over West Virginia or loses to them and somehow manages to pull off an upset over either Georgia, Alabama, or Auburn. This scenario also assumes the Vols defeat Florida and South Carolina and closes out the season undefeated in November.
For the Vols to achieve their best-case scenario, they’ll have to avoid any catastrophic injuries. Nicks and bruises are going to happen, but if Tennessee wants to achieve their full potential, they can’t afford any season-ending injuries to key contributors or at positions with little quality depth. Development for many players on the roster would also be a big factor in Tennessee being able to reach the best-case scenario.
Tennessee’s defense will have to be much better at stopping the run, and their young cornerbacks will have to be exceptional for the Vols to rise above expectations to this degree. The offense will also need to be more explosive than last year, and the offensive line will have to play much, much better than last season.
Is 10-2 doable for Tennessee in terms of a best-case possibility? Maybe, but it’s much less likely than 9-3. And that’s why I’ve chosen 9-3 as the more realistic best-case scenario.