One of the difficulties in evaluating a team's upcoming college football season is that you have so many variables (i.e., 12 opponents).
Sure, UT should be improved over its 5-7 season of last year. But what about everyone else?
Here's a cursory look at UT's opponents entering the last week of preseason camp.
Western Kentucky - Should be a breeze, right? It's a virtual Division I-A baby - or, as NCAA bureaucrats might put it, a virtual Football Bowl Subdivision baby.
A former Division I-AA powerhouse, WKU went 2-10 last year and has lost its last five games to SEC opponents by an average of 35.4 points.
But as a former UT coach once said after a loss to Wyoming, "In this day and age in college football, anybody can beat you, especially if you let them."
UCLA - When Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince threw three interceptions in one scrimmage, it's hard to say who should have been more concerned? UCLA or UT?
Quarterback Kevin Craft threw three interceptions in a preseason scrimmage last year, threw four more in the first half against UT, and then turned into Joe Montana in the fourth quarter of UCLA's comeback victory.
Florida - The Gainesville Sun quoted Florida defensive players recently as saying they want to be the best. Not the best in the SEC or the best in the country - the best ever.
That reflects the challenge of setting higher goals when you return your first- and second-team defenses from a team that won a national championship.
It hasn't been all good news for the Gators this preseason. They still need to find a go-to receiver, and deluxe kick/punt returner Brandon James reportedly has been battling depression ever since former UT coach Phillip Fulmer was fired.
Ohio University - If you think this game will be just slightly more difficult than Western Kentucky, you need a historical perspective.
The Bobcats lost by only one point at Wyoming last year. That's the same Wyoming team which beat UT in Neyland Stadium.
And don't forget the coach Frank Solich factor. That's the same Frank Solich who was an assistant coach at Nebraska when the Cornhuskers manhandled the Vols in a couple of bowl games.
Auburn - The Tigers are building their new offense around quarterback Chris Todd. Sound familiar?
They tried the same thing last year, and almost everybody on the premises got fired. The only difference is that Todd underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder.
If Auburn's offense suddenly becomes proficient, half the quarterbacks in the conference will be scheduling appointments with Todd's surgeon.
Georgia - The Bulldogs already have an injured tailback (Caleb King, hamstring) and they haven't even been tackled by Eric Berry yet. Is that a bad omen?
Maybe not. While King has been sidelined, running back Richard Samuel, who was a disappointment as a freshman, has demonstrated speed and power in scrimmages.
Another noteworthy development: Middle linebacker Marcus Washington was moved to defensive end to bolster the pass rush, which was lacking last season.
Alabama - The Tide hasn't been subtle in designating its go-to guy on offense. Star wide receiver Julio Jones is on the front and back of the Alabama media guide - all by himself.
Guess there wasn't room for the whole defense, which should be one of the best in the country.
A deeper, more talented receiving corps has emerged this preseason, which should take some of the heat off Jones as well as first-year starting quarterback Greg McElroy, who could be an upgrade over John Parker Wilson.
South Carolina - Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks keep searching for a dependable quarterback, a better offensive line and more playmakers on offense. And they keep finding defensive backs.
Freshman Stephon Gilmore received rave reviews from Spurrier when he won a starting cornerback job after the first week of spring drills. Another freshman defensive back has been the surprise of preseason camp.
D.J. Swearinger, a former UT commitment who grew up a Vols fan, has excelled at cornerback, even though he never played the position in high school.
Memphis - The unflattering nickname of Tiger High is no longer appropriate. The Tigers have become Transfer U.
And some of the transfers are impressive.
Lance Smith, who rushed for 436 yards on only 71 carries for Wisconsin in 2007, should ease the workload of 1,000-yard rusher Curtis Steele. Former Auburn safety DeRon Furr was the defensive most valuable player in the spring game.
Among the other notable transfers are former LSU linebacker Derrick Odom, former Mississippi State linebacker Jamon Hughes, and former Miami tight end DajLeon Farr. Including former junior college players, Memphis has 25 transfers on its roster.
Ole Miss - The Rebels already had a proven passing game with Jevan Snead throwing to Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge. Now, they have added freshman firepower.
Patrick Patterson was the big-name recruit, but three other freshman receivers - Ja'Mes Logan, Terrell Grant and Jesse Grandy - have had good camps.
This should be the most potent Ole Miss offense UT has faced in 25 years, but that's not saying much. Since 1983, UT has won 12 consecutive games against the Rebels, who averaged only 14 points in those losses.
Vanderbilt - The Commodores are going to a no-huddle offense. In light of last year's struggles, I thought they might spend more time in the huddle.
Maybe they just want to get it over with as quickly as possible.
As bad as UT was offensively last season, it didn't even have the worst offense in the state. Vanderbilt ranked 117 out of 119 FBS teams in total offense.
Kentucky - What's going on with the Wildcats this preseason?
UT fans' probable answer: Who cares?
They know how the story ends. UT has won 24 consecutive games against Kentucky, whose fans can only look back to the good old days of the rivalry (1965-1984) when they won three of 20 games.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.