For the second-straight-season Vanderbilt sealed the Volunteers fate, keeping Tennessee football from making a bowl game for the third consecutive season.
After Saturday night’s 14-10 defeat from their arch, in-state rival’s this year’s senior class will be the only class in the modern era of Tennessee football to have losing seasons every year, leading, of course, to an overall losing record.
The Vols will wrap up yet another disappointing season on Saturday, Nov. 30 when they travel to Lexington, Ky. to battle their northern border rival’s, the Kentucky Wildcats. The Vols and Cats will kick-off at 7 p.m. on ESPNU from Commonwealth Stadium.
A Tennessee loss would lead to their second loss to the wildcats in three years after defeating them 26 consecutive times before the 2011 loss. A loss would also mark the Vols second straight season with only one SEC victory.
After a tumultuous season as 2013 has been for the Vols, the loss to the Commodores may have been enough to completely drain any life and spirit left in team 117. First-year head coach Butch Jones’ challenge now has shifted from getting this broken team to a bowl game, to getting them to finish out the season strong and get ready for next season.
“If you are competition it is another opportunity to compete,” Jones said. “We always talk about competitive character in our football program. For the younger players it is another opportunity to put their football identity and their football resume on film as we continue to build this football program and move forward. It is the last opportunity for our seniors of ever representing Tennessee. So there is a lot of things at stake.”
Saturday will be huge in building towards the future for Jones and Co., but they’ll have a recruiting class coming in they may prove to be even bigger. According to most recruiting ranking outlets (Scout, ESPN, Rivals, etc.), the Vols have the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation, and picked up their 32nd and 33rd commits of the class just after their loss to Vanderbilt.
Tennessee’s 2014 class is second only to Alabama in a top five list that consists of four SEC teams.
One of the Vols biggest struggles down the stretch has been on the offensive end. Since freshman Josh Dobbs took over the quarterback position Tennessee’s offense has put the ball in the endzone only four times in 14 quarters of play.
Dobbs has been accountable for six turnovers and zero touchdowns since taking over at Justin Worley’s expense, however Jones remains committed to the freshman for the final game.
“Joshua Dobbs will be our starting quarterback,” Jones quickly said. “I think Josh has continued to progress. I thought Saturday he showed his age a little bit, but again, Josh has already been in and that’s is the maturation phase of a young quarterback playing.”
Jones also confirmed in his weekly Monday presser that Riley Ferguson will be redshirted this season, meaning if something were to happen to Dobbs on Saturday it would be Nathan Peterman getting the nod for the first time since his injury at Florida in the fourth game of the season.
Tennessee’s season of heartbreak, injury, and disappointment will come to a close Saturday. After they face Kentucky it will be back to offseason rebuilding, something all-too-familiar for the Vols over the last six years.