Tennessee is coming off of a big season-opening win against the South Carolina Gamecocks last week. Although it wasn't the prettiest game that the Vols have ever played, a win is a win, nonetheless.
With Tennessee holding the Power 5's longest active winning streak, would should we expect from the Vols as they take to Neyland Stadium for the first time in 2020?
John Dunn (Managing Director/Editor/Host): Tennessee found a way to win last week against the Gamecocks, and I for one think that speaks to the resilience of this team. For years, it seems that the Vols have been the "cardiac kids." They'll grab a big lead, and watch it trickle away before finding a way to win in dramatic fashion -- or they'll be trailing heading into the fourth quarter, and find a way to do just enough to come out with a victory.
I'm ready to see Tennessee dominate someone, and I believe we will see something that resembles dominance against the Tigers. Missouri is in their first year of the Eli Drinkwitz regime, and this may play a factor. The Turnover in players from last year for the Tigers is substantial. Not only did they lose quarterback Kelly Bryant, they lost a horde of players on both sides of the ball. However, they have a veteran defensive line, and some quality talent in some key positions such as linebacker, with Nick Bolton, and defensive back with Tyree Gillespie and Josh Bledsoe.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had one of the best games of his career against the Tigers, last season in Columbia, MO. He completed 23-of-40 passes for 415 yards and two touchdowns. Now, Marquez Callaway, JaJuan Jennings and Josh Palmer made Guarantano look great, however, he also looked more comfortable and poised against Missouri last year.
With that type of confidence with an even better team this season, I fully expect Tennessee to come into this game with their heads on straight. I expect the rushing attack of Chandler and Gray to dictate the pace of the game by allowing the Vols to maintain a dramatic advantage in T.O.P. There will be a new face in the offensive line this week as well, as Cade Mays was cleared by the SEC earlier in the week. With Mays bolstering and already impressive offensive line, I expect the Tigers to struggle to contain Tennessee on defense, while simultaneously struggling offensively themselves.
Prediction: Tennessee - 35 | Missouri - 17
Rachel Ward: (Senior Staff Writer): As the Vols enter Neyland for the first time this season, they match up against a Mizzou team with a 5-3 winning record against Tennessee since joining the SEC. However, Tennessee is coming off a win against Mizzou from last season, 24-20. The win gave the Vols bowl eligibility last season.
An important note for Mizzou this season is that they are entering their first season with new head coach Eli Drinkwitz. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to a coach’s first season with a new team, so the Vols have an edge with their familiarity with Pruitt.
The Tigers also lost many key players to the NFL Draft and graduation, many of them being offensive players (including QB Kelly Bryant) and linemen. Missouri has needed growth on both the offensive and defensive line, and have a quarterback position to fill.
Mizzou has offensive talent returning in RBs Larry Rountree and Tyler Badie, as well as WR Jalen Knox. Defensively, key returners include linebacker Nick Bolton and cornerback Adam Sparks.
With key players missing and a new coach entering the scene, the Vols have all it takes to start the season off 2-0 and notch an at home win. I can see Guarantano, Chandler, Gray, and Palmer taking advantage of the Tigers' rebuilding defensive line, while getting a new look at what other receivers will step into missing spots left by Jennings and Callaway.
Prediction: Tennessee - 31 | Missouri - 17
Trevor Morris (Junior Staff Writer): After a hard fought game against S. Carolina, Missouri in week two should be a breath of fresh air for the Vols.
The Tigers don’t have much going for them offensively and it’s not even been decided who their Quarterback will be this fall. They lost three Offensive Lineman, and have little Receiver experience. The Tennessee defense should look forward to this game, using it to flex their muscle and put up good film to intimidate future opponents.
For Mizzou, the defensive side of the ball is very solidified. With safeties Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe returning, along with star LB Nick Bolton, it will be hard for other teams to do what they want on the offensive side of the ball. The Tigers had an amazing run stopping ability last season but only return 3 sacks onto this year's projected starters at defensive end.
As long as the Vols don’t give up on the run game early, everything should be fine in week two. Expect Tennessee to play conservative and slowly pull away to a blowout win.
Prediction: Tennessee - 31 | Missouri - 13
William Allen (Junior Staff Writer): Missouri comes to Neyland for the second game of the season and holds a five-to-three overall series lead. Eliah Drinkwitz, previously at Appalachian State, is now the Tigers head coach. Drinkwitz should not be underestimated, and has the coaching experience to build a winning program at Missouri.
In his only season as head coach in 2019 with App State, he went 12-1. He was the quality control coach under Gene Chizik when Auburn won the National Title in 2010, and moved on to coach at Arkansas State, Boise State and NC State. Every football program Drinkwitz has been a part of, they win. The SEC, however, is a different monster. Missouri needs to rebuild before they win big.
Prediction: Tennessee - 42 | Missouri - 28
Tyler Graham (Junior Staff Writer) The Volunteers welcome the Missouri Tigers in their home opener in 2020. In 2019, The Volunteers went to Columbia and walked out with a 24-20 victory.
The Tigers lost their starting QB, and former Clemson QB, Kelly Bryant this year; The Tigers also haven’t named a starter for the 2020 season, however, Juniors: Shawn Robinson, who transferred from TCU in 2017, and Taylor Powell, are expected to battle it out for the QB1 spot.
In 2019, The Volunteers' receivers had a big day against the Tigers secondary; The Vols had three receivers over 100Yds: Josh Palmer (SR), 6 Rec, 124 Yds; Jauan Jennings, 5 Rec, 115 Yds; and Marquez Callaway, 6 Rec, 110 Yds.
Although The Vols lost two of those men, they seemed tomake WR an area of focus in the 2020 recruiting class, bringing in 4 stars: Malachi Wideman, Jalin Hyatt, and Jimmy Calloway. This will help Tennessee elevated themselves over the Tigers for the second season in a row.
Prediction: Tennessee - 17 | Missouri - 7
Miguel Detillier (Junior Staff Writer): The Vols will have another easy matchup this season, this time against Missouri for their home opener at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee won their previous matchup against the Tigers 24-20 last
season, which helped them clinch bowl eligibility for the first time in three years. It also helps that Guranatano had his all-time career performance, throwing 415 yards and two touchdowns against Mizzou, the former which saw him accomplish a milestone of only being the third quarterback to throw over 400 yards in a game in school history.
Although he has been inconsistent as the Vols’ quarterback, he should pull off another quality game against a Tiger defense, which only gave up 19.4 points a game in 2019. Meanwhile, they will take comfort in giving Missouri, and their new coach Eli Drinkwitz, a challenge as they have uneven quarterback
play, but a solid running back combo consisting of Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie.
The Tennessee defense should put plenty of pressure on whoever gets the assignment as quarterback for Mizzou, either Shawn Robinson or Connor Bazelak, and the defense up front with linebacker Henry To’o To’o and cornerback Bryce Thompson will work on getting to the Tiger offense and
their lack of solid receivers.
If the Vols can pick up this win over Missouri, then it should give them a promising 2-0 start, as long as they stay poised for the rest of the year, something they need against some of the top teams in the SEC like Georgia and Florida.
Prediction: Tennessee - 31 | Missouri - 17
John Dunn: (W) (1-0 in predictions)
Rachel Ward: (W) (1-0)
Trevor Morris: (W) (1-0)
William Allen: (W) (1-0)
Tyler Graham: (W) (1-0)
Miguel Detillier: (W) (1-0)