Premium Content Sign Up

College Football Preview 2024: Tennessee Volunteers win projections, strengths and weaknesses, quarterback spotlight and more

2X2J48F Tennessee defensive lineman James Pearce Jr. (27) sets up for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Gainesville, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP)

Year 3 of the Josh Heupel era at Tennessee might not have been as magical as 2022, but the Volunteers still finished with a 9-4 record that was capped off by a Citrus Bowl victory over Iowa.

Tennessee has now finished in the top 20 of the AP poll in back-to-back seasons, something it hadn’t accomplished in 19 years. The Volunteers have high expectations to keep the good times rolling in 2024, thanks to a potentially explosive offense. The biggest questions come defensively. Outside of superstar edge defender James Pearce Jr., the Volunteers have major concerns on that side of the ball.


Click here for more college football: 

NCAA Power Rankings | NCAA Premium Stats | NCAA Betting Dashboards 2004 CFB Schedule | News and Analysis | The PFF College Football Show


Biggest Strength: High-upside passing game

Tennessee’s passing game has immense potential this season. Quarterback Nico Iamaleava is a former top-three overall recruit and flashed in the Citrus Bowl against Iowa, posting an 84.9 grade in the victory. The Volunteers also have a top-15 receiving corps in the nation and an innovative offensive mind in head coach Josh Heupel.

Biggest Weakness: Will James Pearce Jr. be enough for the defense?

While Tennessee’s defense features the nation’s best pass-rusher in James Pearce Jr., many questions remain on that side of the ball. The biggest of which are at the second and third levels. Of the nine Volunteer linebackers/cornerbacks/safeties that played 300 snaps last year, only one returned.

2023 Team Overview

Offense
EPA per play Yards per play Successful play rate Explosive run play rate Explosive pass play rate
0.063 6.4 39.2% 20.7% 12.9%
43rd T-25 20th 6th T-89th
Defense
EPA allowed per play Yards allowed per play Successful play rate allowed Explosive run rate allowed Explosive pass rate allowed
-0.108 5.1 30.4% 14.1% 15.2%
23rd T-26th 19th 47th T-97th

Three Notable Transfer Portal Additions

  • OT Lance Heard (LSU): 71.4 PFF grade
  • WR Chris Brazzell II (Tulane): 76.3 PFF grade
  • CB Jermod McCoy (Oregon State): 64.2 PFF grade

Three Notable Transfer Portal Losses

  • EDGE Tyler Baron (Miami FL): 78.5 PFF grade
  • S Tamarion McDonald (Louisville): 76.3 PFF grade
  • CB Doneiko Slaughter (Arkansas): 55.5 PFF grade

Quarterback Spotlight: Nico Iamaleava

2023 Grade: 78.0
Key Stat: 85.0 passing grade, four touchdowns in first career start (Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa)

DOMINATE FANTASY FOOTBALL & BETTING WITH AI-POWERED DATA & TOOLS TRUSTED BY ALL 32

Unlimited Fantasy League Sync
Fantasy Start/Sit Line-Up Optimizer & Waiver Wire
WR-CB & OL-DL Matchups, PFF Player Grades, & Premium Stats 2.0 Tools
Nathan Jahnkes Rankings - #1 Most Accurate Last 70 Weeks
PFF Best Bets, Player Props, & Power Ranking Tools
NFL Mock Draft Sim with Trades & Draft Grades

Already have a subscription? Log In

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protect your family with fast, free will.
Sponsor
College Featured Tools
  • Power Rankings are PFF’s NCAA power ratings based on weekly player grades in each facet of play. These power rankings are adjusted based on coach, quarterback and the market each season.

    Available with

  • PFF's exclusive metrics provide matchup previews, position rankings, grades, and snap counts.

    Available with

  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NCAA player performance data.

    Available with

Subscriptions

Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
OR
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit