The 2011 Tennessee football team features exciting, young players who will challenge the SEC champions in next season. Tennessee’s offense has the potential to be one of the most exciting in the country, especially considering that only two starters are back from last year’s squad. Quarterback Tyler Bray could follow in the footsteps of great Tennessee quarterbacks, but his immaturity and leadership are key questions to be answered. The secondary should be special this season, and the rest of the defense needs to follow its lead.
The Vols took a 7-0 lead in their season opener against LSU. Tauren Poole’s touchdown run of one yard was successful and added an extra point to the score. Vanderbilt responded with a touchdown run by Zac Stacy. Bray connected with Da’Rick Rogers for an 17-yard touchdown pass after the Vanderbilt touchdown. Tennessee won the game with an Eric Gordon touchdown in the second period.
There were highs and lows throughout the season. After a rough start under new coach Cuonzo Martin, Tennessee’s results started to improve. The Vols went 2-1 in SEC after losing to Stanford, Oakland and Austin Peay. MTSU was also in the NIT. The most important wins for Tennessee this year were against Alabama, Florida and Auburn.
Many surprises were experienced during the 2012 season. Kiffin’s coaching style and recruiting strategy are now under scrutiny from the NCAA. A lack of communication from Tennessee’s coach has led to a rift in the Vols’ locker room. Kiffin also criticizes Tennessee’s recruiting methods. Although the Vols were able acquiesce to Iamaleava, he isn’t willing to discuss it. He’s more of a Vols fan.
The Tennessee schedule is not as difficult as last year’s, thanks to its four non-conference games. In 2011, the Vols’ non-conference schedule featured the Cincinnati Bearcats, which went 5-7. Cincy, meanwhile, won the Big East under Butch Jones and faced a tough conference schedule, which included the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers, and Arkansas Razorbacks.
Auburn came into Jordan-Hare Stadium ranked No. 7. The game started with a long drive by the Tigers. Auburn led by 10 points. Ronnie Brown scored on a 6-yard touchdown run and Jason Campbell threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu. Auburn’s defense held Tennessee in check for most of the first half. However, Tennessee drove 85 yards to cut Auburn’s lead to 14-7 at halftime. Cadillac Williams ran 1-yard for the touchdown on their first possession after the break.