Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee will “buy or sell” the likelihood of several things happening each week before a Tennessee football game. Here are their takes on the Vols’ match-up with the Indiana Hoosiers in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl as well as some end-of-season topics.
Buy or Sell: Tennessee holds Indiana below 250 passing yards.
Nathanael: Indiana has only thrown for 250 or fewer yards in two of their 12 games this season. Tennessee, meanwhile, has held nine of their 12 opponents to 250 or fewer passing yards. Something has to give here, and I’m going to side with the Vols. I’ll buy that UT holds IU to under 250 passing yards, but it won’t be by much.
Ben: I’ll sell this because Indiana has one of the best passing offenses in the country at 308.7 yards per game which ranks 13th-most in the country. Peyton Ramsey has been very effective for the Hoosiers taking over for Michael Pennix Jr., but I don’t expect him to have a career day against an improved Vols secondary. Because the Hoosiers rely so much on the passing game, however, I do think they’ll reach 250 yards.
Buy or Sell: Despite sitting out the 1st half, Jauan Jennings will still eclipse 1,000 receiving yards for the season.
Nathanael: Jennings needs just 58 receiving yards to go over 1,000 yards on the season. Depending on how the game is going at the start of the second half, I’m not sure he’ll get enough opportunities to get that total. Granted, Jennings has shown multiple times this season he’s capable of getting almost that amount of yards on just one catch, hauling in four receptions of 48 or more yards this season. But I’m going to sell this right now.
Ben: I’ll buy this because I don’t want to bet against Jauan Jennings. Indiana’s secondary is very experienced and have some great players, but Jennings is still going to try and go out with a bang. I imagine Jennings will be the focal point in the second half to provide a new wrinkle, especially if the Vols’ offense struggles in the first half.
Buy or Sell: Eric Gray will be Tennessee’s leading rusher against Indiana.
Nathanael: I’m going to sell this one. I think Gray worked his way back into some more touches after his record-setting performance against Vanderbilt, but I think with Ty Chandler back healthy and Tim Jordan likely to see a good amount of action, I just don’t see Gray repeating as UT’s leading rusher two games in a row.
Ben: Yes, Eric Gray will be Tennessee’s leading rusher. I don’t know how much he’ll rush for because he’ll split carries and Brandon Kennedy may not play on the OL, but because of his breakout performance against Vanderbilt in his last game out, I believe he’ll receive the most carries and be effective doing so.
Buy or Sell: The Vols will have to score over 30 points in order to win against the Hoosiers.
Nathanael: I don’t think they have to, actually. Indiana is more than capable of putting up points, and I think they will have to score around 30 points or more to get a victory. But with how good Tennessee’s defense has been playing, I don’t think it’s necessary for UT to have to try and put up a ton of points to win. I think the Vols could win by scoring in the 20s as long as the defense does their part.
Ben: I’m selling this because Tennessee hangs its hat on the defensive end, and the defense has been what has sparked the turnaround this season. Indiana’s offense has been very efficient this season, but UT’s defense has been very strong down the stretch. The 30-point mark will determine the game. If Indiana scores at least 30 points, it probably wins. If they don’t, the Vols likely win.
Buy or Sell: Tennessee sees three changes to their coaching staff this offseason.
Nathanael: I’ll buy this. Whether it’s due to Pruitt moving on from a coach or two or another coach or two leaving Knoxville of his own accord, I think three sounds about right in terms of how many staff changes will see with the Vols this offseason.
Ben: Buy. Coaching changes are coming after the bowl game and have been in the works for some time now. Tennessee isn’t set to lose any of the big names on its coaching staff, but Jeremy Pruitt is most definitely going to have to replace some coaches, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Buy or Sell: The Vols will have six players taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Nathanael: Let’s see, you have Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, Darrell Taylor, Daniel Bituli, and Nigel Warrior all graduating and likely all getting drafted. That’s five right there. I think there’s a decent chance Dominick Wood-Anderson gets drafted, and if Trey Smith declares for the draft, I think he will too. So I’ll buy this.
Ben: Sell. Jauan Jennings, Darrell Taylor, Daniel Bituli and Trey Smith will get drafted, while Marquez Callaway has a chance to sneak in late. I don’t see Dominick Wood-Anderson being drafted after two underwhelming seasons on Rocky Top.