Bottom line up front: Our running game blew chunks last year and looks to suck equally bad this year.
Spring starts: March 26
Biggest plus: Tennessee’s passing game has the ability to improve even with receiver Justin Hunter remaining sidelined from the torn ACL he suffered early last season. Da’Rick Rogers is the SEC’s top returning catcher after amassing 1,040 yards last year, and joining the position is Cordarelle Patterson, a two-time All-American from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. All three receivers have definite NFL potential, and if Patterson catches on quickly this spring and Hunter is back to form in August, the Vols could pose plenty of problems once the season starts.
Biggest challenge: For the passing game to click, the Vols will need help from their running game. They have ranked last in the SEC in rushing for two straight years, and Marlin Lane, who averaged 23.3 yards a game and 3.7 yards a carry, is the team’s top returning tailback. The offensive line is a concern, as is the linebacker situation, where A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt will have to go from overachieving freshmen to unit leaders.
Spring game: April 21
SEC East teams’ spring objectives | timesfreepress.com