Vols not done yet

Published 11:58 am Saturday, July 19, 2008

The preseason magazines are out, and the Southeastern Conference’s Media Days are this week. Are you in the college football mood yet? I am, and I’ve spent the last few days calculating my Southeastern Conference College Football Mathematical Prognostication Quotient (SECCFMPQ, for short).

We’ll start today with the conference’s Eastern Division. Florida and Georgia are being touted here as national title contenders, but the Quotient likes Tennessee to finish the season with only one loss and to win the division for the second year in a row. I picked South Carolina last year and looked like a genius until the Gamecocks went from 6-1 to 6-6 with an epic collapse. Lesson learned about having too much faith in the little guy, but I don’t think the Volunteers qualify for that category. Florida and Georgia will outdistance their division foe soon in terms of talent, but the Children of the Checkerboard have one more run left in them.

It will come down to those three teams, of course. South Carolina won’t win more than four conference games, and neither Kentucky nor Vanderbilt will be a factor.

As great as Tim Tebow is (he is, after all, the only sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy), his style of play will have to change if the Gators are to win another title. In the SEC, your quarterback simply cannot carry the football 210 times a year. And I’m not sure Tebow would be your first choice under center if you’re team was down six points with less than a minute to play and you had to drive the length of the field for the win. That inability to match opponents touchdown-for-touchdown late in close games will cost the Gators against both Tennessee and Georgia.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have a brutal schedule with road trips to South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU and Auburn. Georgia hosts Alabama and Tennessee in addition to the neutral-site game with Florida. The Quotient sees three losses in that group.

The Vols appear talented, experienced and deep everywhere except quarterback, where junior Jonathan Crompton replaces Erik Ainge. So, look for Tennessee to focus on the running game with Arian Foster, who is somehow overlooked despite needing only 685 yards to become his school’s all-time leading rusher.

This is when Tennessee is at its best. Anyone remember what happened the year after Peyton Manning graduated?