admiring nuances is where there is shine talking about UT.
standing by to take incoming fire, UT didn't win a single SEC game last season- which is just beyond ridiculous and indicative of where the program was at... nothing happened roster wise over the off season that 'should' have improved that.
at the start of this season they faced the single toughest schedule of any P5 team, facing WVU, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Bama, USCe, and UK- while Mizzou is nothing to sneeze at... yeah, UTEP, ETSU, and Charlotte were cupcakes, but the run they faced, on paper, was the toughest...
they played WVU decent early but fell apart. They obviously lost 'no contest' to UF, UGA, Bama, but they played USCe to the wire and beat both UK and Auburn. This doesn't sound like a 'great' achievement, but compared to where they were, it kinda is... they now have either/both Mizzou and Vandy in their way keeping them from bowling. I think they will in fact bowl, which is HUGE compared to the condition they were in just last season.
Are they 'middle tier'? I don't know, but i do know they are better than they were- and i see a melding/gelling taking place on the team that i've not seen since Fulmer (though there was a moment when AJ was there under Butch they were playing 'above their station'). In my observation, the 'team' playing as such is the principle ingredient to describe a great team. I am not suggesting by any measure they are 'great'- that would be comical- but i DO suggest the precursors are appearing.