By Steve Williams
Despite how much Tennessee football fans want to end that 10-game losing streak to Florida, SEC Eastern Division favorite Georgia is the team they should be circling on their calendars this coming season.
I really don’t believe the Bulldogs can overcome a loss in Knoxville on Oct. 10. That would give the Vols a game up in the standings plus they would own the tie-breaker against Georgia in the event of a two-way tie at the end of the regular season.
Considering Georgia’s conference schedule – the most difficult in the SEC – making up a two-game deficit could very well turn out to be too tall of an order.
The Bulldogs are the only SEC East member that must play both Alabama and Auburn out of the West this season. Just pulling off a split against those two would be an accomplishment.
I know Tennessee fans don’t want to hear this, but a loss at Florida could be more than made up in the standings with a win over Georgia.
Of course, Tennessee has to take care of business in other SEC games. After playing the Gators in the Swamp Sept. 26, a physical Arkansas team will march into Neyland Stadium. Then comes Georgia, which will have just played Alabama for the first time in the regular season since 2008.
The showdown with Bama could take a lot out of the Bulldogs. After playing the Vols, Georgia hosts Missouri, then will get what could be a much needed week off.
If the Bulldogs have to win at Auburn in mid-November to keep their title hopes alive, they could be in trouble.
Georgia was the pick to win the SEC Eastern Division title at SEC Media Days. That’s one strike right there on the Bulldogs, considering the media’s well-earned reputation for inaccurate forecasting.
The Georgia game is in Knoxville, not Between the Hedges. That’s strike two on Mark Richt’s team.
A loss to Tennessee most likely would put the Bulldogs in a two-game hole. Strike three!
I rest my case.
Still, somewhere, I know a UT fan is shouting, “Let’s beat Florida and Georgia!”
Hey, I’m all for that, too. But I’m circling Oct. 10 on my calendar.
IN THE DOGHOUSE: Jocquez Bruce, UT freshman wide receiver from South-Doyle, was in the news last week. But it wasn’t good.
There was a report Bruce had been “suspended from team activities for not applying himself off the field.”
Whatever it was, let’s hope Bruce corrects it and quickly gets back in good standing with the team.
Jocquez isn’t the first UT athlete to get off track in his first year in college and he won’t be the last.
Many South-Doyle fans, former teammates and coaches, not to mention those closest to him, were probably a little saddened and embarrassed by the recent news.
But Bruce, who helped lead the Cherokees to the Class 5A state quarterfinals and 12-1 record last season, owes it to himself to get things straight. He’s only been enrolled at UT since June. He has four years ahead of him.
Make the most of it. Don’t become a sad statistic. You’ve come too far to let yourself down.
TEE OR UT: Tennessee is still recruiting Amari Rodgers, Knoxville Catholic standout who committed to signing with Southern Cal in June. Rodgers’ dad, Tee Martin, is USC’s passing game coordinator and wide receiver coach and the former quarterback who steered the Vols to a national championship in 1998.
“Blessed to say that I have been offered by Tennessee!” tweeted Rodgers on July 17. Was he just being respectful to UT or could there be something special about the Vols in his heart?
Rodgers, who is 5-9, 200 pounds since having a growth spurt after last season, will be going into his junior year at Catholic. He was a dynamic running back for the Fighting Irish in 2014.
Amari appeared to be very happy about the opportunity to get to play for his dad in college when he announced his commitment to the Trojans.
But a lot can happen in two years and Rodgers has family ties in Knoxville, too. He also has offers from LSU, Vanderbilt, Duke and Wake Forest, but my guess is, if a recruiting battle goes to the wire, it will be between Southern Cal and Tennessee.