🏈 Tennessee's hunt for a Big October

What's next for the Vols?

Hello. This is the Josh and Swain Newsletter, a quick roundup of the week’s top stories and topics involving Tennessee and the sports world.

Here’s what we have for you today:

  • How many games will Tennessee win in October?

  • A new player to watch for the Vols’ offense

  • Bye-week priorities for Tennessee

  • The latest on Tennessee’s No. 1 recruiting target

TENNESSEE’S STILL IN THE SEC RACE

RB Jaylen Wright will help lead Tennessee’s offense

How many games will Tennessee win in the month of October?

Your answer might be different than if I had asked you two weeks ago.

We asked the question on the radio and social media this week to gauge the reaction.

Answers varied (of course), but the overall vibe was positive.

Here’s Tennessee’s October schedule:

◼️ Oct. 14 vs Texas A&M (3:30 PM ET)
◼️ Oct. 21 at Alabama
◼️ Oct. 28 at Kentucky

That’s not an easy slate of games.

All three teams look better than any team Tennessee has faced to this point.

Two of the three games are on the road.

Games haven’t been too easy for Tennessee — or anyone in college football — on the road.

But the upcoming schedule IS manageable.

Texas A&M has to come to Knoxville after playing Alabama this weekend.

While the Vols will be resting and preparing for the Aggies this weekend.

A road game at Alabama will always be tough. But the Crimson Tide offense isn’t as scary as it’s been in recent years.

And Kentucky is the team Tennessee ALWAYS expects to beat.

However, the Wildcats will have two weeks to prepare for a home game against Tennessee… while the Vols play at Bama before going to Tuscaloosa.

All three of Tennessee’s games are winnable; the Vols could lose all three (don’t recommend that option!).

That seems to be the case for most SEC teams this season.

It’s hard to find much separation among teams in the league.

Chris Low of ESPN.com agreed when he joined Josh and Swain on Thursday.

“I think this is as close as we've seen the top half of the league, at least, in a long time,” Low said.

Two weeks ago following Tennessee’s loss at Florida, the mood in Big Orange Country was not a happy one.

After blowing out South Carolina at home, optimism has returned.

Is there too much optimism?

Anyone expecting 3-0 might be relying on hope more than belief.

An 0-3 or even 1-2 prediction might be holding onto too much letdown from the past.

Two statements are true:

1️⃣ Tennessee has enough talent in place to make this a successful season.
2️⃣ The Vols have work to do to ensure this season doesn’t go the wrong way.

Tennessee’s to-do list for the rest of the season will include:

⚫ Running the ball to set up the pass
⚫ Dlowing the run and creating consistent pressure on defense
⚫ Limiting mistakes and staying healthy in several key spots

People who are optimistic and pessimistic about the direction Tennessee’s season will go have their reasons. And most of them are fair.

Tennessee will have to prove one side right.

The Josh and Swain predictions for the month of October?

We both said 2-1 in this week’s show.

That would leave Tennessee in a good position to finish strong in November.

Check out our entire conversation with ESPN’s Chris Low to hear his opinion on the Vols, SEC, and this week’s Alabama-Texas A&M game. ⬇️⬇️

CAN DEE HELP TENNESSEE’S O?

Look out for more Dee Williams

Have you watched a Tennessee game over the past two seasons and at some point said, “Why don’t they put Dee Williams on offense?”

If so, Josh Heupel might be ready to use your entry in the suggestion box.

Austin Price of Volquest told us this week he expects Williams, who has practiced in the secondary, to get a look on offense.

Swain’s ears popped up when Austin mentioned the idea.

“It just makes sense,” Swain said of Williams playing offense.

It’s not as easy as telling Williams to go line up in the slot, catch the ball, and run.

For one, catching the ball on offense is different than fielding a kick or punt.

Also, Tennessee’s offense runs on tempo.

Williams has to prepare to run several plays in a row.

He could sub in and out, of course, but that’s not Tennessee’s style.

But there’s no denying this: Williams is electric with the ball.

Imagine him on the field with Dylan Sampson and/or Squirrel White.

How do you think an opposing defensive coordinator would like that?

Tennessee’s offense has a good amount of playmakers.

The Vols’ offense also needs to find new ways to hit big plays.

Could Williams help in that area?

We might soon find out.

SPORTS NUGGETS

🏈 The NCAA announced changes to the transfer portal windows, which football split into 30- and 15-day periods.

🏈 Here are five ways the Vols can use the bye week to prepare for the rest of the season.

🏈 Checker Neyland is back for the Texas A&M game. Here’s your seating info if you’re headed to the game. 🟧⬜🟧⬜

🏈 The NCAA finally ruled transfer wide receiver Tez Walker eligible to play for North Carolina and put the blame for the late decision on UNC.

🏈 The Mel Tucker/Brenda Tracy/Michigan State situation is only getting messier.

⚾ The Major League Baseball divisional series will start this weekend. Here are predictions for how each series will go.

🏀 76ers star center Joel Embiid has committed to play for Team USA at the 2024 Olympics. And other veteran stars appear close to doing the same.

⚽ One Knox will play its final regular season game on Friday night against the Richmond Kickers.

RETURN OF ZAKAI

No surprise: Zakai is beating his return timeline

Tennessee basketball will begin the season in less than a month.

The Vols have plenty of reasons to be excited.

Senior leaders Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi decided to return for a season.

Several contributors are back, including Jonas Aidoo, Tobe Awaka, and Jahmai Mashack.

And newcomers, like freshman Freddie Dilione and transfers Jordan Gainey and Dalton Knecht, are expected to make an impact.

Tennessee has depth and talent.

But will the Vols have Zakai Zeigler when the season begins?

That is undecided.

We know this, though: Zeigler is doing everything to get back from the torn ACL he suffered last season.

That effort should have him back sooner rather than later.

Zakai has really been progressing and it’s been tough to keep him off the floor,” head coach Rick Barnes said on Tyler and Will this week. “I expect him to be back earlier than expected.”

The college basketball season is long.

Having a healthy Zeigler in February and March is much more important than the impact he can make in November and December.

Tennessee will play two exhibition games, starting with a trip to Michigan State on Oct. 29.

The Vols’ regular season will begin at home vs Tennessee Tech on Nov. 6.

There are several reasons to be excited about this Tennessee basketball team.

The return of Zeigler should rank near the top of the list.

SEATON HAS A 5-STAR VISIT TO TENNESSEE

Jordan Seaton would be a BIG get

Last week’s newsletter mentioned Jordan Seaton’s decision to visit Tennessee for the South Carolina weekend.

It was important Tennessee made a good impression on Seaton, a five-star offensive lineman who’s considering Alabama, Florida, and several others.

Well, Tennessee made quite the impression.

Seaton has scheduled an official visit to Tennessee for the Nov. 18 weekend when the Vols host Georgia.

Tennessee has put itself in serious contention for Seaton.

"I think the visit went extremely well from everybody I've talked to,” Price told us. “Jordan was very complimentary of Tennessee. The fact that he was here unofficially and he's supposed to be back in November officially is a huge deal for Tennessee."

Understatement: Seaton would be a huge get for Tennessee if he chooses the Vols.

UT’s offensive line is a major question mark for next season.

Seaton would have a chance to start immediately as a freshman.

He has that kind of talent.

Tennessee has an impressive list of commitments for 2024. The class currently ranks No. 7 in the nation, according to On3’s Industry Ranking.

Adding Seaton would cause the ranking — and more importantly the line of scrimmage — to look a lot better.

Check out our full conversation with Austin Price below as we discussed the recruitment of Seaton and other 2024 targets. ⬇️⬇️

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