“Rocky Top, you’ll always be home sweet home to me. Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee”. If you are a member of the Georgia State Panthers, I would suggest you go ahead and get familiar with those words because you are going to hear it… A LOT! The Georgia State Panthers are traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to play at the revered Neyland Stadium. The familiar confines and checkerboard endzones of Neyland don’t strike the same fear into opposing teams as it once did but coach Jeremy Pruitt has Volunteer fans seeing orange.
Georgia State was one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt Conference last year. This year the Panthers are returning their Senior quarterback who led the team in passing and rushing from a year ago. The offense expects to improve with experience in key positions and continuity at head coach as Shawn Elliot enters his 3rd year in Atlanta. The defense brings back seven starters which is the good news. The bad news is that they were one of the worst defenses in all of FBS football. Even though the experience level has increased and on field play may improve, this unit will likely still struggle.
Everything that was said about Georgia State bodes well for the Tennessee Volunteers. They have got to be licking their chops and chomping at the bit to get after this Georgia State team. Coach Pruitt is a defensive mind and will have this Vol defense really amped up for this tune-up game. The secondary is led by a talented trio of sophomores but anchored with a Senior in Nigel Warrior. The Volunteers need to bump up the turnover margin numbers, finishing last year with -1, and going against the Panthers 92nd ranked passing offense, expect the DBs to snag a few free ones. On offense, it is time for Junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to shine. He was the #1 dual threat quarterback out of high school 3 years ago and just hasn’t shown the consistency to allow Tennessee to compete with the big boys. With a strong group of pass catchers and a deep stable of quality running backs, the offense should finally get rolling.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt has worked hard and finally instilled a work-pail, blue-collar mentality into this Volunteer team. That, coupled with solid recruiting, should make this team much more formidable. They will show off their new found swagger at the expense of Georgia State this week. The book makers have the spread a hair too high and the total a bit too much for this early season matchup, though. Expect Tennessee to easily win but fail to cover the 25.5-point spread. The game will also drift below 57.5. The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 27-6 Volunteer victory. Until next time, good luck.