FAYETTEVILLE – This week we continue our look at a team-by-team opponent analysis of the Arkansas football schedule. Today is Week 5.

FAYETTEVILLE – This week we continue our look at a team-by-team opponent analysis of the Arkansas football schedule. Today is Week 5.


If there is any team that can match the preseason good feelings of Arkansas, it’s Tennessee. The Volunteers and Hogs had, more or less, the same seasons last year, both going 7-6 and beating a major conference opponent in its bowl game.


Combine that with what the Volunteers return personnel-wise, and pundits across the country are pegging Tennessee – like Arkansas – as a darkhorse in the Southeastern Conference.


Much of that positivity hinges on quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The junior is perhaps the second best dual-threat quarterback in the conference, behind Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. When he took over under center last year, Tennessee finished 4-1.


And unlike the Tennessee of recent seasons, roster stability is a plus this year. That, besides Dobbs, is the biggest reason for the increased in expectations. The offensive line returns four starters, the receiving corps and defensive lines return three-fourths of their primaries and at no place is there a dearth of talent.


Depending on what happened the week before for Arkansas, this week’s Tennessee game will either keep a season unbeaten or drop the Hogs to a disappointing 3-2 with Alabama and Auburn on deck.


Tennessee Volunteers


Southeastern Conference


Last Year: 7-6 (3-5 in SEC)


Plays Arkansas: October 3, at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.


By the Numbers


Scoring Offense: 28.9 points per game (65th in FBS, 10th in SEC)


Rushing Offense: 146.38 (92nd, 13th)


Passing Offense: 224.2 yards per game (71st, 8th)


Scoring Defense: 24.2 points per game (34th, 9th)


Rushing Defense: 168.38 yards per game (67th, 9th)


Passing Defense: 196.2 yards per game (23rd, 4th)


Offense


For the first time in what seems like ages the Volunteers enter a season without a question at quarterback. Josh Dobbs took over halfway through the year. Tennessee went from winless against power conference teams in its first seven games, to a 4-1 finish and a bowl win over Iowa. Dobbs ran for 469 yards in just six games and threw for 1,206 more with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Make no mistake, he is the straw that stirs the drink. Combine him with sophomore running back Jalen Hurd (899 yards last year) and the Vols have as good a quarterback-running back duo as anywhere in the SEC. The offensive line and wide receiving corps, though, are curious. They’re experienced, but not all that dynamic. If they can become so, Tennessee should meet its lofty outside expectations.


Defense


Tennessee’s defense is something like Arkansas’ last year. On paper, anyway. There’s the star defensive lineman, Derek Barnett (Trey Flowers?) and his 10 sacks. Then he’s surrounded by a cast of role players who, in fact, play their roles very well despite garnering any preseason all-conference type attention. The star linebacker, Curt Maggitt (Martrell Spaight?), had another 10 sacks and is the senior leader. With Jalen Reeves-Maybin (top 10 in SEC in tackles) alongside, Tennessee is fine here, too. And the secondary is just like the Hogs’ – it’s all unheralded. Cameron Sutton and LaDarrell McNeil are good, solid defensive backs and the core of a pass defense that ranked just outside the top 20 in the country last year.