The University of Tennessee opens up its 2014 season this weekend with a home game against Utah State.
Head coach Butch Jones and the Vols went 5-7 overall in 2013 and 2-6 in conference, meanwhile Utah State went 9-5 overall and 7-2 in the Mountain West conference.
The Volunteers’ sports information department released the completed list of starters for the Utah State game being held Saturday in Knoxville.
The starters are listed below:
Quarterback: Senior Justin Worley
Tailback: Senior Marlin Lane
Wide receiver: Sophomore Marquez North
Wide receiver: Junior Pig Howard
Wide receiver: Junior Von Pearson
Tight end: Freshman Ethan Wolf
Left tackle: Senior Jacob Gilliam
Left guard: Junior Marcus Jackson
Center: Junior Mack Crowder
Right guard: Freshman Jashon Robertson
Right tackle: Junior Kyler Kerbyson
Left end: Sophomore Corey Vereen
Defensive tackle: Senior Jordan Williams
Defensive tackle: Sophomore Danny O’Brien
Right end: Freshman Derek Barnett
Weakside linebacker: Sophomore Jalen Reeves-Maybin
Middle linebacker: Senior A.J Johnson
Strongside linebacker: Junior Curt Maggitt
Cornerback: Sophomore Cameron Sutton
Safety: Junior Brian Randolph
Safety: Sophomore Devaun Swafford
Cornerback: Senior Justin Coleman
Kicker: Sophomore George Bullock or freshman Aaron Medley
Kickoff specialist: Sophomore George Bullock or freshman Aaron Medley
Punter: Senior Matt Darr
Long snapper: Junior Matt Giampapa
Holder: Junior Patrick Ashford
Punt return specialist: Sophomore Cameron Sutton
Kick return specialist: Senior Devrin Young and freshman Evan Berry
Jones is working with a particularly young, but talented group this year, but he is in for a rude awakening if he believes his team is prepared to emerge victorious from the SEC East. The truth of the matter is Florida, Missouri and South Carolina are just much better on paper, plain and simple. That doesn’t even go to mention any of the teams in the brutal SEC West like Alabama, Auburn or LSU, all three of whom have made title appearances more recently than anyone in the SEC East.
Of the entire two-deep depth chart that was released, excluding special teams (just offense and defense), the Volunteers have only six seniors. That’s right, you can count the team’s senior presence among the first two strings on both hands, tied with Temple for lowest in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Youth and talent are great for developing, but they’re a sandbag when experience and preparation are the difference makers.
Jones enters his second year at the helm in east Tennessee, and is going to need to work some serious magic on a team that only finished 2-6 in conference last season. We’ll get a much better gauge on just how much magic he needs after Saturday’s bout with Utah State.
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Michael Arellano, Daily Emerald