Setting 7 goals for Tennessee football in 2023. How about a win at Alabama?
Every year around this time, I set my goals for the Tennessee football season. I do my best to make the goals come true.
For example, one of my goals for last season was not: Beat Georgia with three touchdowns.
Before I set goals for the 2023 team, let’s review some of my goals for 2022, most of which were accomplished by a team that went 11-2 and finished in the Top 10.
My favorite: “Close Vanderbilt.”
The Vols did just that, defeating the Commodores 56-0 in the regular season finale. Given how unstable Vanderbilt’s offense has been, you might think that’s not a big deal.
But it was Tennessee’s first shutout of the Commodores in 19 years.
UT’s offense also accomplished an important goal: average at least 40 points per game. He led the nation with an average of 46.1 points.
Another goal: Qualify for the New Year’s Day bowl. Tennessee did even better by making the New Year’s Six bowl and defeating Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
But enough about the last season. Here are my goals for Tennessee’s next team:
Turn the Swamp into a Lake
The Vols have lost nine consecutive games on Florida’s home field. But beating the Gators won’t be enough. This goal should include fans as well.
How about taking over a stadium with Tennessee fans?
This is not out of the question, as evidenced by the fourth quarter orange in LSU’s Tiger Stadium last season. And Gators fans have a history of not sticking around for losers.
Averaged 40 points per game
Never mind that the Vols must replace star quarterback Hendon Hooker and NFL wide receivers Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt. Coach Josh Heupel’s offense has been so productive the past two seasons, this goal is not unrealistic, especially when you consider the returning talent.
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The Vols will return their top three running backs – Jabari Small, Jaylen Wright and Dylan Sampson. They also return receivers Squirrel White, Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy, who combined for 17 catches and 232 yards against Clemson.
Also, returning quarterback Joe Milton was named the Orange Bowl offensive MVP after throwing for three touchdowns.
End Tuscaloosa’s losing streak
Granted, this is a tough one. Tennessee has not beaten Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium since winning a five-overtime game in 2003.
And most of the games in the nine-game losing streak haven’t been close.
Nevertheless, Alabama’s next team seems vulnerable. More importantly, his quarterback position is questionable.
That doesn’t sound like much. But it would be an achievement after last season.
Rattler passed for six touchdowns South Carolina’s 63-38 win last November.
It’s hard to come into today’s high-scoring college football draft. But the Cavaliers offense is producing at the level of the 1950s. At least he did last season.
The Cavaliers only averaged 17 points per game in 2022. A Tennessee-friendly season opener in Nashville should bring out the worst in another bad offense.
Vanderbilt shut out
You probably saw this one coming.
History tells us that back-to-back shutouts of the Commodores are not possible. In fact, Tennessee shut out Vanderbilt in three straight games from 2001 to 2003.
Sign a top-10 recruiting class
The Vols signed a top-10 class for 2023. And their 2024 class is currently ranked 10th by 247Sports Composite based on their 10 commitments.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He can be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnadamskns.
This article originally appeared on the Knoxville News Sentinel: 7 Tennessee football goals in 2023: How about a win at Alabama?