Editor’s note: While we have no idea when college football will start, we are bringing you a look at each of the 12 opponents Florida has scheduled to play.
When: Sept. 26, TBD.
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
Last year: The Vols lost the opener to Georgia State and after losses to BYU and blowouts against Florida (34-3) and Georgia (43-14) it was a season on the brink for coach Jeremy Pruitt. But the schedule eventually got easier and Tennessee went on a roll by winning its last six games to finish 8-5. True, the best wins were over UAB and Indiana (in the Gator Bowl), but Pruitt could relax and look ahead.
Outlook for 2020: There is a lot of optimism in Big Orange Country because of that finish and the players returning. UT’s strength is an offensive line that got better when Cade Mays transferred in from Georgia (although he needs a waiver). Had the Vols had a full spring instead of a couple of practices, Jarrett Guarantano might have been in a battle for the starting job. But the erratic quarterback will probably start the season. Tennessee has recruited well, but has to get through a schedule that includes four games against teams that finished last season ranked in the top eight.
Best offensive player: Trey Smith is a remarkable story and you hope he gets through the season without issues. Blood clots cost him one season and he made All-SEC first team last year at offensive guard despite only having two full-contact practices. He returned for his senior season in part because NFL teams are wary of his condition but there is a hope that a new medical plan works.
Best defensive player: Bryce Thompson missed the first three games last year because of legal trouble and took a while to get back into the flow of things when he returned. But he is the best cornerback at Tennessee and — as a junior — has the best chance to be an All-SEC performer.
Fun fact: Florida has beaten Tennessee 14 of the last 15 times. Only four of them have been one-score games, including two of the last three in Gainesville.
Quote: “I think they should go 8-4. Tennessee fans probably think they are a little better than they are. But to do any better than 8-4 they are going to have to beat Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia or Alabama. And not slip up anywhere else.” — Blake Toppmeyer, Knoxville News-Sentinel.