- Tennessee is the most experienced team in the nation with 19 returning starters.
- The Volunteers take the field with one of the best and most explosive wide receiving units in college football with Justin Hunter, Zach Rogers and Da’Rick Rogers.
- Da’Rick Rogers is the team’s best option as he had six 100 yard games last year and received First Team SEC honors (1,040 yards; 15.5 yards per catch).
- Tennessee starting quarterback Tyler Bray will be vastly improved now that he is healthy. Bray threw for 1,849 yards (56%; 18-10) in his freshman year (2010) and finished last season with 1,983 yards (59.5%; 17-6). Bray also missed several games last year after injuring his hand against Georgia in October.
- The Volunteers will be very good on defense, especially up front where they return four of their top six players on the defensive line. Three of those returning players started at least three games last season, and my projections have the Volunteers limiting opponents to under 3.8 yards per carry in 2012.
- Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley begins his third season for the Volunteers, which is significant in that teams usually excel during this stage of a coach’s tenure.
- Tennessee also brings in an excellent defensive coordinator in Sal Sunseri, who was the linebackers coach at Alabama for the past three seasons. Sunseri previously coached in the NFL as the Carolina Panthers’ defensive line coach between 2002 and 2008.
Tennessee is one of the most improved teams in college football, which is not a surprise in light of the fact that the Volunteers have 19 returning starters this season. Tennessee also has the most lettermen returning in the country, and the players are now comfortable and familiar with head coach Derek Dooley’s systems.