The Volunteer State

The Volunteer State

The Volunteer State is a Tennessee Vols sports podcast covering sports topics from the University of Tennessee featuring The Knoxville News Sentinel's John Adams, Mike Wilson and Blake Toppmeyer. The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessee.


December 6, 2023 33 mins

The transfer portal is open, and Tennessee needs to do a little holiday shopping. The Vols have legitimate needs to address for 2024.

Defensive backs? Wide receivers? A tight end? Some offensive linemen? A backup quarterback?

If the Vols are feeling gluttonous, they could do some big spending in the transfer market.

On today's episode, hosts Blake Toppmeyer, Adam Sparks and John Adams offer their top needs for Tennessee to addre...

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If the Gator Bowl is to be Tennessee football's postseason path, then let the opponent be North Carolina.

The Vols (8-4) will learn their bowl destination on Sunday. Most of the prominent projections have identified Tennessee as being earmarked for the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, against either UNC (8-4) or North Carolina State (9-3).

Tennessee last played in the Gator Bowl to culminate the 2019 season, rallying to beat Indiana t...

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Tennessee football requires a recalibration of its offense in the offseason. A unit that led the nation in scoring in 2022 is pretty pedestrian this season. And Josh Heupel's teams aren't built to succeed with pedestrian offenses. Offense must fuel the Vols' success.

In Nico Iamaleava, we trust?

Well, sort of.

Better quarterback play is needed in 2024, and Iamaleava will be a redshirt freshman ready for the reins. In brief appe...

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Tennessee football's crowning achievement 10 games into the season is a win at Kentucky. What's that say? Well, it's not a success story.

But, can this season fairly be labeled a bust?

The Vols (7-3, 3-3 SEC) entered the season with a preseason No. 12 ranking and the momentum of an 11-win campaign that included an Orange Bowl triumph. It didn't take long, though, for Tennessee to show its colors and prove this would be no repeat ...

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Tennessee football is likely headed to a Florida bowl game, but which one? And, does it matter?

If we told you the Vols are bound for either the Citrus, Gator or ReliaQuest (formerly Outback) bowl, would you know which the SEC considers the most prestigious?

(Answer: Citrus Bowl.)

No. 12 Tennessee's best path to the Citrus Bowl involves beating No. 15 Missouri on Saturday in Columbia.

On today's episode, hosts Blake Toppmeyer, ...

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Wednesday’s reveal of the first College Football Playoff rankings served as a reminder of just how interesting – and deep – the playoff race will become next season.

The Vols aren’t in the hunt for this year’s playoff, but the format will expand to 12 teams in 2024. If the 12-team playoff were here today, Tennessee would remain in contention for a spot.

And, if last week’s 33-27 win over Kentucky offered any indication, the Vols ...

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Tennessee's road woes are looking more like reality than myth.

Alabama rarely has been more beatable during Nick Saban's tenure than it was Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Vols owned the first half. They were up by two scores at halftime, and their domination was more lopsided than that.

And then Tennessee experienced an all-systems failure in the second half and watched No. 8 Alabama run away with a 34-20 victory.

The Vol...

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Josh Heupel's teams usually win because of their offense. These Tennessee Vols win in spite of their offense – at least, that was the case against Texas A&M.

The Vols' defense fueled that victory.

But, can Tennessee expect its defense to carry the day against Alabama? Usually, dynamite quarterback performances and a high-scoring opponent are required to beat Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. And Joe Milton isn't supplying this offen...

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Tennessee and Texas A&M are two programs that enjoy a lot of advantages and frequently boast lofty expectations, while struggling to meet the bar of what is capable.

In some ways, the programs are similar, and that's evident in the win-loss column. Throughout the past 20 seasons, the Vols averaged seven wins. The Aggies averaged 7.4.

The teams will meet Saturday, in a pivotal game for the direction of each team's season.

On ...

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Good news for Tennessee: The Vols thrashed South Carolina, avenging their 2022 loss to the Gamecocks.

Unsettling news for Tennessee: Kentucky dismantled Florida. How did the Vols look so bad against the Gators, and how will UT handle the Wildcats later this month?

Good news for Tennessee: The Vols’ run game took off against South Carolina behind a recalibrated offensive line, now that Cooper Mays is back after a preseason medical...

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These next four games stand out as a defining swing stretch in Tennessee's season.

South Carolina, then Texas A&M, Alabama and Kentucky await the Vols. Each of those games feels like something of a toss-up. Never mind that the Vols are a significant favorite against the Gamecocks according to sportsbooks. Spencer Rattler alone makes South Carolina dangerous. Vols fans should need no reminder of that.

Interestingly, South Caro...

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We admit, we thought this time would be different.

We're well aware of Tennessee's history in The Swamp, but much of that history came before Josh Heupel was coach. And much of that history came against Florida teams better than this one.

So, yeah, we thought Tennessee would snap its losing streak in Gainesville that stretches to 2003. And stretches on after the Gators' convincing 29-16 victory on Saturday – so convincing, in fac...

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Dial back the clock to the 1990s, and Tennessee-Florida ranked among college football's best rivalries.

Phillip Fulmer vs. Steve Spurrier.

Peyton Manning vs. Danny Wuerffel.

The SEC East on the line.

Pandemonium reigns.

The rivalry isn't what it used to be, and the series never had the history of Alabama-Tennessee or Florida-Georgia.

Still, No. 9 Tennessee vs. Florida on Saturday has the feel of a big game – albeit not to the...

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If you're majorly elevating your expectations for Tennessee football after its romp over Virginia, that suggests one of two things: Either you didn't expect much from the Vols initially, for some strange reason, or you're not understanding how bad Virginia is. 

That said, we certainly saw nothing from Tennessee in its 49-13 joyride Saturday in Nashville to make us cool our expectations. We already had a lofty bar set for the Vols....

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Virginia won three games last season, it was picked to finish last in the ACC this year, and the Cavaliers will start an FCS transfer at quarterback in its season opener against No. 10 Tennessee on Saturday in Nashville.

No wonder the Vols are a 28½-point favorite.

Josh Heupel’s teams are adept at steamrolling mediocre or meek opponents – anyone remember last season’s 56-point win over Vanderbilt? – and this matchup has the makin...

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Tennessee football will have a new leading receiver this season and a new sacks leader. That much is guaranteed. But, what about rushing yards? Tackles? Will incumbents retain their place on the leaderboard, or will a new stat-stuffer emerge?

Tennessee's season opener against Virginia is less than two weeks away, so we're winding down our final preseason predictions.

On today's episode, Blake Toppmeyer, John Adams and Adam Spark...

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Tennessee football has found its starting left tackle, while the Vols search for stability on the interior of the offensive line.

Hype is reaching a crescendo for quarterback Joe Milton, and Dont'e Thornton doesn’t lag far behind as the recipient of preseason hyperbole. And Tennessee’s cogs on defense are apparent.

Those are a few things we’ve learned from Vols preseason practice, with a little more than two weeks remaining until...

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Tennessee football will open the season as a preseason top-10 team for the first time since 2016.

The Vols are ranked No. 10 in the USA TODAY AFCA coaches’ poll. This nod from the coaches speaks to the momentum building within a Tennessee program coming off of its first 11-win season since 2001.
On today's episode, hosts Blake Toppmeyer and John Adams discuss why Tennessee earned this ranking and what it means.

For one, it's a...

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The Vols are back – on the practice field.

Tennessee's encore to an 11-2 season begins to take shape this week, when preseason workouts begin.

Does Tennessee have the pieces to repeat 11 wins? That's a tall order, but a third straight bowl appearance should be in store, and the Vols are well-positioned to stay No. 2 in the SEC East pecking order, behind Georgia.
On today's episode, hosts Blake Toppmeyer, Adam Sparks and John A...

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Joe Milton has a band of believers. Despite starting just two games last season, Milton earned third-team preseason All-SEC quarterback recognition. 

Milton's honor roll spot is a credit to his performance in an Orange Bowl victory against Clemson, along with his steady hand as Tennessee's backup quarterback until Hendon Hooker injured his knee in November.

Milton's always had the arm strength, and he showed a complementing poise...

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