Monday, October 29, 2007

3rd Time's a Charm

If you told me on September 16th that Tennessee would be 5-3 and 1st place in the SEC East, I would have laughed you back to the Tri-Cities, optimistic Vol fans. It's been a Johnny Carson style season (weird, wild stuff), but I'm happy to be where we're at. We are in the driver's seat, which, in the college football world (and ONLY in the college football world), it's the best seat to be in, even if you end up being there drunk. Which is what we've done at Tennessee. We've stumbled, crawled, and cried our way to controlling our own destiny in the toughest division in football.

But, when looking at this season's performance, can we expect to not drop the ball again? This is Tennessee's third time to control their own destiny in the SEC East. First, when sitting at 0-0 in conference play, and traveling to Florida. We saw how that turned out. Then, on September 29th, Auburn upset Florida, bring the Gators down a rung on the ladder, with LSU looming on showdown Saturday. That same Saturday, Tennessee had a game against rival Georgia, in formerly Richt-Neyland Stadium. The Vols blew the Dawgs out, and LSU beat Florida to give Tennessee it's 2nd chance to control their own destiny. A week later, we went on the road and beat a good Mississippi State team (good for them, not good like Top 25 ... yet). The 3rd Saturday in October was an embarrassment, and were once again dead men walking.

Until ... Georgia managed to upset Florida in convincing fashion. Their game ended about an hour before our game against Steve Spurrier. We came out and acted like we were taking the East right then and there. Boom! 21-0 at half, showing moxie on both sides of the ball, looking like a real Tennessee Volunteers team. But someone slipped some GHB in our locker room gatorade, and we came out playing like drunk sorority girls on casino night. The Ghost of 2nd Half Collapses once again made an appearance on our roster, much like it did in Berkeley, Gainesville, and Tuscaloosa. Luckily, Daniel Lincoln doesn't believe in ghosts.

Anyway, the point is forthcoming.

What makes any of us so confident that our guys will take charge this third time, and win the East? Is it the mere fact that we only have 3 SEC games left and odds are better because of it? Or is it because we have 2 of those 3 games at home, where we're undefeated this year? I personally think we might not make it past the next SEC game before we blow it.

This team has had opportunity after opportunity handed to it, and thus far, has crapped it away each time. The talent on this team is plentiful, because you don't "show flashes" with no talent. We've shown flashes of being a great team, but it's been far too inconsistent, and it's been combined with scared playcalling on both sides of the ball. Arkansas is on tap, and we need to remember two things: 1. 2006 @ Arkansas, and 2. Cory Boyd just averaged 8 ypc on us. (Yes, I know, ULL is next, but we're talking SEC here) It's too late to fix things. It's going to be November on Saturday! NOVEMBER! You can't change scheme in November. Thought, if I was John Chavis, I would consider it. You cannot win games consistently when you have corners playing 10 yards off the receivers. You also will get picked apart if you continue to rely on Jerod Mayo and Rico McCoy in pass coverage. They suck at it.

So, someone, anyone, please make a logical debate for me on why this Tennessee team can finish up 3-0 to win the East with a nothing secondary put into bad schemes, a linebacking corps that has been the most disappointing unit on the team, and a coaching staff that won't even follow through on their word. Please, make me excited.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fire Kurt Roper Immediately

A story I've been following intensely is the odd, weird story about Montario Hardesty not getting a single snap on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The same Montario Hardesty who had the best 2-game stretch in his injury-riddled career the 2 games before the Tide game. The same Montario Hardesty that coaches raved about in 2005, 2006, and again in 2007. The same Montario Hardesty who did not give up after rehabbing a ligament tear and made it back to his top form.

Phil Fulmer in the post-game interview said he didn't know Montario didn't play. That statement alone should merit it's own blog entry. Then, with a day to think about it, Fulmer said that Coach Roper told him it was because they used so many "open sets" and that Hardesty didn't catch the ball well. Okay.

Then, on Sunday night, Montario Hardesty did not show up to practice. Originally, Fulmer said he, nor Montario's roommate, knew where Hardesty was. Keep that in mind, because on Monday afternoon, Hardesty was at practice. Where had he been? According to the coaches - sick in bed. Where was his bed? Not in his dorm room? I would imagine his roommate would notice him being sick in bed. Anyway, this is the smallest lie of them all.

Next, in an interview, Roper said, "Yes, Hardesty should have played in the game." Really? "It is just one of those things that happened." Excellent. Did you take the Phillip Fulmer seminar for coachspeak excellence, Mr. Roper? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Then, I quote the Volquest article:

"Roper said today (Tuesday) that there was not any kind of issue between him and Hardesty leading up to the Alabama game that prevented him from playing. There was some academic business that Roper told Hardesty to handle and Roper said he did, but the running backs coach said Hardesty was not being punished in any way on Saturday."


Take a deep breath to let all the info marinate. First, Fulmer says he didn't NOTICE Hardesty on the bench. Roper then says he should have gotten Hardesty in, but Montario needs to keep working hard. Hardesty misses practice, nobody knows where he is, but yet he's in bed sick. Roper says there were no pre-3rd Saturday issues with Hardesty.

Now back to the present. I speak to a few people, plus include an opinion from Brent Hubbs, about the Hardesty/Roper stuff. The things I hear are that there WAS an issue before the Alabama game between Roper and Hardesty. Apparently, Roper had a task for Hardesty to complete by a deadline (a deadline AFTER the Alabama game). By Saturday at 2:30 EST, Hardesty had not completed the deadline, but 2:30 EST on October 20th wasn't the deadline. Regardless, because said task was not completed yet, Hardesty did not play in a game that will keep Tennessee out of the race for the SEC East.

What's my point behind all of this? Kurt Roper is a liar, and Coach Fulmer is too loyal. Even without the information from sources, you, I, my deaf aunt Sally, and everybody else knew there was more to this story. Kurt Roper is a lying piece of junk. He helped bring down David Cutcliffe at Ole Miss, and now he's doing his part in making a mockery of this program. Seriously, look at either theory.

1. Kurt Roper punishes a running back for not meeting a deadline in the future.

or

2. Kurt Roper forgets to play the #2 running back.

Do either of those options make you confident in his abilities? NO! Now, add in his weasel attitude, his lies to the faces of UT fans, and you have a guy who should be canned immediately. What a joke.

And yes, Mr. Roper, I would be more than happy to let you sit in with me during my workday. Even if I lose an account, you won't see me lying about it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Analyzing the Idiocy

I've never been quiet with my opinions about Alabama football fans. Most Tennessee fans consider them the most delusional of all sports fans, and from January through August, it was at it's absolute worst. Alabama fans were saying Erik Ainge was overrated, that Bob Stoops would be their head coach, and once they hired Saban, that they'd win the SEC right off the bat. I could somewhat buy into the last point, because all of my analysis said they could, too. However, as the season has progressed, Alabama fans have been shockingly normal. Nothing too over the top, except a few nutzos here and there. We'll analyze those today.

From tidefans.com forum, a prediction for the game:
"I've got no feel for how this one will shake out, but I'll blindly call 28-24 in favor of the good guys."


So you think Tennessee wins? Right on.

Another prediction from tidefans.com:
"Mississippi State scored 21 on UT, so I'll say we score at least that
Bama - 27
UT - 21"


So you think Alabama will hold us to our 2nd lowest output of the season? Florida's D talent >>>> Alabama's D talent. Hell, Mississippi State's defense is as good as Alabama's, and we scored 33, you dolt. Keep in mind Ole Miss scored 24 on your ass, meaning we could put up 40+. Don't let evidence get in the way of your bias.

"More prediction from "12 Rings" on tidefans.com:
31-13 Bama. I think this is the game we punch the gas and keep it down. I'm not worried about (or)ainge picking us apart. They got smoked by two teams in games where there was little or no pressure on him. (he's only been sacked once all year) I'm thinkin this will be the game where our O begins to take shape. RTR !!!!!!!!!!!!"


Riiiiight. 13 points for a team that hasn't scored less than 20 to date? Against a defense that allowed 38 to an Arkansas team that has no passing game, and allowed 21 to a Florida State team that has half the offense Tennessee has? Makes sense ... in backwards land. Ohhhhh BUUUUURN.

From the "10 Reasons Alabama is better than Tennessee" list at 3rd Saturday in Blogtober:
"and the seats are literally 12 inches wide. (That ain’t pretty with Jim Bob and Looloo both going about 3 bills on either side of you.)"


Hilarious ... except for the FACT that Alabama is rated as the 2nd fattest state in America, and Tennessee is like ... 5th. Fifth isn't anything to brag about, fatty Tennesseans, but it isn't 2nd. Sooooo, get your facts straight, Bammer.

From the same list:
"If you like gals that are into Nascar and dipping Skoal maybe Knoxville would suit you fine. You want to see the best Knoxville has to offer? Check your local Saturday morning hunting show? She will be dressed as the Moose. I actually like my women a little more on the classy side. Of course there is more to our women than sundresses and class. You like a challenge? How about a future law student that can kick your tail in a debate on current foreign policy? More likely to find her in Tuscaloosa. Your future smokin’ hot business professional? T-town. I think you get the picture."


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhahahahahha. Seriously? I mean, seriously? C'mon you can't ... you aren't serious. Right? It's satire, amirite? I'm not going to type some ridiculously subjective statement saying UT coeds are prettier than Alabama coeds, because frankly, both universities have a great share of hotties mctotties. Period. Gun to my head, need to make a decision: UT wins. And I guess Alabama residents don't like Nascar and chew? C'mon. Just so you know, in 2006-2007, Alabama ranked as the 45th smartest state, Tennessee was 30th.

From the same article, on mindsets and what UA football did for the state:
"As a southerner, Alabama football helped put this part of the country on the map. It helped make us count again. It was a shot across the bow to yankees everywhere that we actually could do something good."


I like the last 6 words best, because it shows that grammar isn't something "you do good," either. "Do well," just so you know. Basically, this is why I hate Alabama fans. You're bragging that the only thing your state does well is play football. Your state is the BEST at putting guys in tight pants and ramming into each other. Fantastic! You can have that title! I love college football as much as ANYBODY, but let's keep it what it is: a game, a sport. If Tennessee never wins another game, the world will continue to spin, the state will continue to thrive, and I'll be living. Sure, the wins make it a bit sweeter, but really, when all you can brag about is being #1 in football history, being the 5th dumbest and 2nd fattest state, you have a problem. Catch up Alabama - you can love football AND excel at life. Try it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Third Saturday in October! 2007

This is the most important week of the year for me and many of my Vol brethren. Lately, younger fans consider Florida or Georgia bigger games, but even at 25, I know the hatred when I see it. Seriously, if you've always wondered why most of us hate Bammers, head over to tidefans.com and read what they have to say about Tennessee. Or, read this article from last season by me - fair warning, it's me without a censor button. I can't stand Bammers and I'd rather be 1-11 with a win over Alabama than 11-1 with a loss to them.

As for this blog, I again apologize to everyone that it's been sporadic. This has been the most insane month of my entire life, with a 5-year relationship taking a turn for the worse, and computer problems. I promise to the three of you who read this that I'll turn up the heat, especially this week.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrry

Sorry I've been away. At least our Vols had a bye week. I'll be back on Sunday or Monday with post-Georgia thoughts. Life has thrown me the biggest of curveballs, but this Saturday is the most important of Saturdays for Phillip Fulmer and this program. I'm a bit buzzed right now, and since that Florida loss, I've seen more alcohol than ever. This blog's content goes to another level post-Saturday.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Neyland's Game Maxims Evaluation - Florida

Like there is ANY question on what the outcome of this evaluation will be? Gotta fight through the pain to keep the blog rolling. Maybe we'll get some attention.

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
This is pretty freaking clear - we allowed a fumble return for a TD, a punt return for a TD, threw an interception, had plenty of missed tackles and plenty of missed assignments. We made more mistakes in this game than every other Florida game this decade. So many mental mistakes. Oh, and the drops, too. Austin Rogers tried to catch a ball with one hand, when he had both hands available. FAIL


2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE.

Berry made a break and DID score - a 96 yard INT return for a touchdown. We stopped Florida maybe 3 or 4 times, and we rarely did much with it. We created a muff return for Florida, but they recovered on their own 1 yard line and quickly went 99 yards to score a TD. FAIL


3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.
We started to do this. Down 28-6, we started to make some things happen on offense, to pull it to 28-20, but a break went against us, and we quit. The players didn't quit so much, but the coaches did. You know, it ties in with playing green youngsters. Fulmer and Co. say this alot: "He'll make some good plays then 1 big mistake that gets you beat." Well, when down 30, we still saw the same piss poor players who got us down by 30. Why not try some new things with new players? There's nothing to lose when you're down 30. FAIL


4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.
I don't even know if this applies. Ainge had a clean jersey, our punters and kickers never got hit. Our lead? Never had one. Our ball game? We were at the mercy of Florida. It was their game, we were just livin' in it. FAIL


5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.

Oskie was good. Everything else stunk. Seriously stunk. We didn't cover, we didn't block, we didn't tackle. On Florida's first 2 series, we looked excellent on defense. I thought we had a chance. But no. Our linebackers stink. Our ends stink. Our secondary, even Berry, stunk overall. When you do 1 of 6 outlined above, there is no WINNING EDGE. FAIL


6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
Kickoffs were awful again. Florida started past their 30 a lot - I think all but one time. Colquitt was told to punt away from PR Brandon James ... he didn't. Lincoln was good, but they decided not to try him on a 47 yarder. FAIL

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.
Did we even BRING the fight to carry? Our defense started out with a fight. Our offense never did. For maybe 10 minutes of the 60, we looked we wanted to battle to the end of time. The other 50? Awful. Our coaches gave up in the 4th quarter, no doubt in my mind. FAIL


Obviously, this is the most embarrassing loss in the Fulmer era. Even more so when you consider what coaches and the team were saying in the preseason. They said they were nasty, they were cohesive, and they had leadership. I call shenanigans. Lies lies lies. This team is honestly worse than the 2005 squad. Absolutely horrendous, and changes need to be made from the top down. Enough is enough.

CHECK: 0
FAIL: 7

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's Time

I sit here, with a heavy heart and eyes full of mist. I sit here, with my head hanging, hands on my brow, wondering where things went wrong. What happened to us? Where is the pride of our university? Where is the fire? Where is the answer?

Tennessee football for me will always be connected in my thoughts to my family. From the age of 5, my father took me to home game after home game, every year until he could no longer afford that choice. Then, my father, my mother, and I would spend every Autumn Saturday together, no matter the opponent, no matter the other things we could do on those days. We sat together, with pride for the University of Tennessee, and watched every second of every game we could. With my mother in poor health, and my father working his body to the max, Tennessee football is a way for me to remember a lot of good times with them. The key word is "remember." Memories.

These memories, which I will carry with me until my grave, were brought to me by a lot of characters, but mostly led by University of Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer. He led my now alma mater to a national championship, 2 SEC titles, and numerous numerous Saturdays of victory. I have been and always will be proud to wear orange.

This is why I'm so saddened to say what we all want to say. The thought alone depresses me. Coach, it's time. You know it is. You know in your heart of hearts that it's time. You've done all you can do. At some point in every person's life, he faces a moment of clarity, where he realizes he is human, a mortal. Tonight, no doubt, you're sitting with a heavy heart, knowing what I know. What we all know.

I consider you a good man with a kind heart and the best of intentions. But it's time. You and I share a bond - we're legit Tennessee Volunteers, we spent 4 years on the same campus, dealing with the same student issues. We are brothers in orange. We bleed it, we live it, we love it. And for that reason, it's time. And you know it.

There is no other image this century that epitomizes what's going on in our football program, and the image will never be forgotten by me. After Florida went up 14-3, the camera was on you, Coach. What did I see, in the FIRST quarter? You let out the biggest sigh, your cheeks filled with air. That sigh was a sigh of confusion. This game, this new game of college football, has passed you, Coach Chavis, and even Coach Cutcliffe, by. The look on your face told the story, and I knew then, in the 1st quarter, down only 11, that we stood no chance. And that hurts. I talk 365 days a year about the memories you helped bring me and my family. And today, I was hurt.

It's time, and you know it. It hurts just to say it, to type it, to think it. I'm literally in a state where crying is a possibility. My memories are becoming tainted by a more recent pain. I can't let that happen, and you, with as much love for this university, can't either. You need to leave as head coach with warm memories of your years in that position. Tennessee is us, and we are Tennessee, and I never want either of us to lose that.

But it's time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Knocked the F Out

In response to Orson Swindle's entry about Joey Kent getting demolished in 1996, I'm posting a video that a fellow UT fan posted on YouTube, this one of Kelvin Kight getting knocked the F out by Eddie Moore. Rex Grossman at his best, making ridiculously ill-advised throws, typically resulting in hatred from his receivers. Rex was trying to be Brett Favre on this one, I believe. If we continue with that analogy, then Eddie Moore is a bottle of painkillers.

Orson, this week, I hate your guts. This week, I think dirtbags find you disgusting. And your feet smell like 3 month old carrot soup that was left in the fridge. Trust me, it's bad.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Florida Week!

The greatest week of the year, Florida Week, is here! I hope to have a lot of content for this game, but to kick it off, here is a quote from Johnny Majors, that applies to this week and sums up how I feel.

"They don't have any respect for ya'. Make 'em remember you for as long as they live ... the way you hit. And the way you knock 'em down downfield ... the way we hustle. Attack attack attack ... always attack."

Neyland's Game Maxims Evaluation - Southern Miss

Every week I'll be looking at every one of Neyland's 7 game maxims and dissecting the game to see how well our Vols did in achieving those goals. The win over Southern Miss was so necessary, and if our team all around plays like against Florida like we did in the 2nd half against USM, we'll upset Florida in the Swamp.

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
This maxim is a bit misleading. Does the General mean turnovers? I don't think so. I think he means mistakes all the way down to man on man blocking, or missing a cut as a running back. For the most part, though, this can be determined by looking at penalties and turnovers, and any other glaring mistakes. Tennessee had 2 late 4th quarter fumbles (Crompton and Creer) in a game where the outcome was not in doubt. Southern Miss had 3 turnovers, plus two other fumbles they recovered. Tennessee had 6 penalties to USM's 5. Pretty clear that Tennessee made less mistakes. CHECK


2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE.
Tennessee scored 10 points off two Southern Miss fumbles, and they were when the game was close. It was 20-16 when Tennessee recovered a Southern Miss fumble and took it to the house on the ensuing drive. Tennessee also scored a safety after a big blitz and hit by McKenzie. CHECK


3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.

This is probably the maxim that Tennessee achieved the most. Southern Miss was giving us fits in the first half. Big plays, mobile QB, screens that went for 15 yards. Southern Miss was leading 16-10 late in the 2nd quarter, and were down only 17-16 at half. Then the coaches, players, and fans revved it up. It was a different team in the 2nd half, as evidenced by the 2nd half score of 22-3, and holding USM to 100 yards in the 2nd half. CHECK


4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.
Our kickers were protected, Ainge took a few hits early, but none were big, none were sacks, and he had a clean jersey in the 2nd half. Once we took the lead in the 2nd quarter, it was for good, and the 2nd half was dominating. We played our ball game, turning to a power running game with Arian Foster in the 2nd half. Lennon Creer then sped around tired defenders to ice the game. CHECK


5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.
Our oskie wasn't good, as evidenced by Rico McCoy's ridiculous attempt at THE PLAY at the end of the 2nd half. I know our coaches don't teach that, as you could tell by Fulmer's eating of McCoy's soul, that started with "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?!" We didn't cover well, we didn't tackle all that well in the 1st half, but it was good in the 2nd. We blocked well, we did some gang tackling. This one is tough. For me, one McCoy play stands out more than his 2 big hits. In the 1st half, Fletcher took a screen out of the backfield and McCoy pursued. Fletcher juked him and McCoy slid on all fours without touching Fletcher, so, although it's close... FAIL


6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
Another tough one. Daniel Lincoln was 3/3, with a long of 47, which is very encouraging. The punt game was good, with Cunningham putting it inside the 20, even when he didn't have the length we're used to. However, kickoffs were continually short, and our coverage was awful. Southern Miss started their drives 7 of 13 times past the 30 yard line. We did recover a fumble on one of their kickoffs, so this is so hard to call. We failed in only one aspect of the kicking game. CHECK


7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.

I feel this maxim is hard to interpret. Does the General want us to leave our starters in for blowout 4th quarters? Does he mean in close games, never ever give up for a second? I truly don't know. I believe he means, regardless of who is in the game, play hard, fight hard, and win the battles. Did we do that? We scored 10 points in the 4th quarter. On Crompton's fumble, it was a pass play with less than 5:30 left in the game. Creer ran hard with GREAT blocking until the end of the game. We gave Southern Miss nothing in the 2nd half. CHECK


I truly enjoyed analyzing our play using this outline. I think it's a unique way to gauge how well we achieved our goals. You know Fulmer preaches the maxims, as he has the players recite all 7 before every game. He breathes them, and so should the team. This week, after a 39-19 victory over CUSA favorite Southern Miss -

CHECK: 6
FAIL: 1

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Phil Fulmer Hot Seat Danger Level: 0-1

Was That Really a Fumble?

An interesting piece of NCAA rule has been posted on Volquest by someone, and carried over to Volnation by yours truly. But before I get into the conversation about the Ainge "fumble," I want to make it clear that Cal deserved to beat us, and this play, in the end, was not the reason our Vols lost. However, I think it's interesting to discuss the rule of this play, and the complete ignorance of the rule by Kirk Herbstreit and the officials.

Here is the play in question:



And here is the NCAA rule regarding a play like this. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE VERY END OF THE RULE!

"If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R.
2-19-2-I)."


So, now, *if* Ainge's forward motion has begun, the landing point of the ball, whether backward or forward, is irrelevant. Is Ainge's arm going forward? It's hard to tell, but I believe it is. Why? Because of the trajectory of the ball after the hit. If Ainge just has the ball in grasp without forward motion, does the ball fly UP like that? I don't think so. The call on the field was a fumble, which is baffling to me. The officials should know this rule, and should call that incomplete.

In the end, this play wasn't why Tennessee lost, but could it have changed the game? Sure! That early momentum can change everything after that moment. Like a butterfly effect, if you will. Still, Cal won this game because they were more prepared and wanted it more. I do wonder how it would have gone if this were called correctly.

Your thoughts?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How Does UT Stop the Cal Passing Attack?

One of the most talked about matchups of this Saturday's game is the Cal passing game against a young, talented secondary of Tennessee. A lot of fans have asked how UT plans on covering Jackson. I'll tell you this right now - Tennessee will do just fine covering DeSean Jackson, but I'm worried about Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan, who will have far more favorable matchups than Jackson.

So how does Tennessee attempt to slow it down? Here's a diagram I created, with a good bit of explanation after.




This is Cal's base passing personnel against Tennessee's base 4-3. I actually believe we'll see Tennessee play more Nickel than normal, but still, our bread and butter is the 4-3, with athletic linebackers who can blitz or drop into coverage.

First, let me break down the personnel for each team.

On the field for Cal is DeSean Jackson at the X, Lavelle Hawkins (705 yards) at the Y, and Robert Jordan (571 yards) at the Z, or slot. Nate Longshore (QB) in the shotgun with RB, Justin Forsett. Craig Stevens, who, regardless of his KO last season on the opening kickoff, is a good receiving tight end, on the same side as Jackson.

For Tennessee, I have Berry in, not Gaines, but I believe Berry takes the main snaps. Marsalous Johnson will be the RCB, who draws the X in Jackson. You know the rest of the guys out there.

In this diagram, the main thing to notice is the defense is in a Cover 2, but not a true Cover 2. I fully expect Johnson to take a short zone, with safety Jarrod Parrish take a high zone, which creates what's called a bracket coverage on DeSean Jackson. This attempts to keep Jackson, and the play, in front of them. These 2 will be responsible for everything DeSean Jackson does.

On the other side of the field, you have a more true Cover 2 aspect. Berry or Gaines will be the LCB, drawing, usually, both the Y and Z receivers. Over the top, Hefney is playing a zone coverage, deep. SLB Ryan Karl should drop into coverage, as well as MLB Jerod Mayo. They'll be responsible for Robert Jordan and/or Craig Stevens and/or Justin Forsett. WLB Rico McCoy could also drop into coverage, but I believe John Chavis will elect to send at least 1 LB, if not more. In this example, McCoy blitzes off the egde, which brings a 5 man rush.

This is where Craig Stevens must take advantage. However, against a team like Tennessee, where the linebackers are very fast for their position, Stevens may not have an advantage. So, Tennessee might blitz Mayo instead, and zoning Stevens' area with McCoy.

What are the weaknesses for this type of coverage? The main thing is dedicating two players to cover one. This creates mismatches at other places. I imagine Cal might notice the bracket coverage on Jackson, and send Stevens on a route to the outside. If Marsalous Johnson jumps it, then you have Jackson versus Parrish or Nevin McKenzie.

Another problem arises, too. Cal's three wide receivers know the job for each position, and can be moved around freely. Jackson could line up in the slot, where he becomes a receiver running a route in Ryan Karl's area or Jon Hefney's area. One thing is for sure - John Chavis has had great success in the past in shutting down a star receiver. Minus Marcus Monk, there haven't been many star receivers who have killed Tennessee. Peter Warrick in 1998 is a perfect example.

Lastly, the most important key to this coverage is that Johnson, Berry, and Gaines need to jam the receivers at the line to immediately corrupt the timing of Nate Longshore and his triumvirate of receivers. Is this something the Tennessee corners can do? Absolutely. Look at the size of the Cal receivers and the UT CBs.

WR DeSean Jackson - 6'0", 166
WR Robert Jordan - 5'11", 165
WR Lavelle Hawkins - 6'2", 181

CB Marsalous Johnson - 5'9", 180
CB Antonio Gaines - 5'9", 180
CB Eric Berry - 6'0", 200
CB DeAngelo Willingham - 6'0", 195

So, while Johnson and Gaines give up a couple of inches, they have 15 pounds on Jackson and Jordan. All 4 of UT's listed CBs above run a 4.4 or better. While Cal has the advantage on paper, I think the combination of athleticism at the position and a Chavis gameplan can slow down the Cal passing game.

We'll find out in ohhhhhhh 44 hours.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Phil Fulmer Hot Seat Danger Level - Preseason

This will be a weekly Wednesday update. We know Fulmer isn't close to being fired or resigning, but he can't rest on his laurels, either. So, I give you, with my out of this world photo editing skills, the first edition of the Phil Fulmer Hot Seat Danger Level.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ainge Has Jammed Pinky

GoVolsXtra and Volquest are reporting that Ainge jammed his pinky yesterday on a snap. Didn't sound too worrisome until Fulmer said he "hoped Ainge would play Saturday, but Crompton would be ready." More to come. I'll try to get on the horn with a physical therapist today.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cal Has GOT to be Kidding Me!

So, an excellent find was linked at Volquest. This video ... I sat in disbelief. This video that was linked was like the tape in The Ring, but I haven't been called by the voice of doom yet. I knew as soon as I watched it that I would never forget it. First, before I get to THE video I'm talking about, show you two Tennessee football game intros. Let me just ... just watch these first.






Okay, now that you've watched how we do it in the 865, watch the Cal intro from 2006. Try to hold your chuckles.



Okay okay okay okay. I've watched that over 20 times and I'm still giggling. Really? Is that it? I'm sure they get a bit more amped up for USC, but come on! It's the home opener! I love the MC. I really feel for the guy. He reminds me of the MC for the high school talent show that everybody is sleeping through. He's trying to get everyone up, out of their seats, and clapping. But 10 people respond. Literally. This is pathetic, Cal fans! I don't mean to pound the whole "Southern football owns Western football" angle, but my LORD get EXCITED! You can actually hear conversations from those around the camera.

What about the fan-created entry line? My high school had around 2,000 students, and we did the same thing. You can clearly hear one guy semi-emphatically cheer "Wooo" around the 31s mark. Is that smoke? From a smoke machine? Or did Joe Camel sit in that section? It's like the fans woke up Saturday morning, and asked each other "What do you want to do today? Maybe we could go to the mall ... or that football game thing."

I'll be able to see this in person on Saturday!

Updated Starters


Here is the updated game week starting lineup as it stands right now. When you take a closer look, I also acted a fool and bracketed Berry at both CB spots. If the coaches can be ridiculous, so can I. I bet this starting lineup drastically changes by our bye week.

Countdown TMinus 5

Friday, August 24, 2007

An Apology

Sorry to those that have visited the site this week to see no updates. I had oral surgery last Friday, and have not felt well enough to update this blog. I apologize for that. Next week is game week, so on Monday, I'll be back in full force. Thanks for coming back!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Game Theory: UT and the No Huddle

There has been much to do about some comments the coaching staff made back in the spring about going to a no-huddle offense for the 2007 season. Originally, the coaches said they'd experiment with it, but through fall practice, it's clear the boys want to run it almost exclusively. Trooper Taylor even went as far to say that they'll use it from the first snap to the last snap. I've always been on the side of fans that needs to "see it to believe it," because a Phil Fulmer staff has never been one to do something like this. What will the no-huddle bring for the offense?

First, what you have to remember is that Tennessee is not converting to a Hurry Up No Huddle offense. It's just the No Huddle, though it could be hurried up, or slowed down, or right in the middle of those two paces. That's part of the theory of why it works. The offense controls the pace 100% of the time. It doesn't mean the defense will see the field more, because Ainge can and will come to the line, assess the defense, most likely look to the sideline for a few signals, and work the play clock down to the last seconds. It's what the Colts do with our golden boy, Peyton Manning. I'm sure if we approach the line, we can have a quick cadence and snap it early, as to keep the defense from finding a snap count rhythm.

Some of this stuff might be obvious, but there could be some Tennessee fans out there who might not know much about the pros and cons of the No Huddle offense. There could also be opposing fans who want to know more about why Tennessee is trying this junk. Anyway, with my super mad skills with the AS Football Play Editor and GIMP, I made a couple examples for you all.

PLAY 1: 3rd and 2


As you can see, I was a bit liberal with the personnel on the field. O'Neal and Vinson probably won't see the field together very much, unless Vinson comes on over the next 3 weeks. However, this would be something Cutcliffe could call on 3rd and 2. This is your typical pulling guard run play. Obviously LaMarcus Coker won't be the running back, unless he gets his crap together. Coker's absence has a huge impact on the No Huddle, but that's for another time. Anyway, McClendon or Foster or Scott, whoever is the right guard, for this play, will pull to the left side and act as a lead blocker for the running back. With the right performance, Tennessee gets the 2 yards to continue the drive. The defense, after 3 downs (if this is the first 1st down of the drive) will be a bit tired. We don't huddle, and run something like this.

PLAY 2: 1st and 10

Tennessee is able to, with the same personnel, go from a power run game to a speed passing game without huddling. The defense, which I now realize I should have added into the diagrams, will still have personnel for their 4-3, 3-4, 5-2, whatever run defense set they use, and will be a bit tired. You slide Coker to the slot (again, not anymore, so Foster or Hardesty), you move Cottam from TE to the slot. Now you have a huge advantage. I have Cottom running a seam route to get matched up against a smaller safety. Cottom is 6'8" 240ish and runs a 4.6 40. Our possession type TE, Chris Brown runs a simple 7 yard cross. Coker, now in the slot, runs a 8-9 yard hook, matched up against either a safety or an OLB. Makes me excited for 7 points. O'Neal and Vinson, speed demons, can run almost any routes because they are weirdly secondary here. Vinson could run a quick in, O'Neal a go route. Doesn't matter. Cottom and Coker have the mismatches.

I know these may seem very elementary to some, but for others, this helps, I hope. You could use these 2 plays in reverse, as well. On 3rd and middle-to-long yardage, run the pass play, then after you get the 1st down, run it to the pass-rush-specialist side. It sounds too easy, but there is a lot of timing and knowledge needed at every position to make it work. With an experienced QB, experienced RBs, TEs, and OL, Tennessee has most of the puzzle. Now, we just need some reliable receivers.

If this entry did nothing for you, let me know.

Countdown TMinus 19

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Countdown TMinus 24

LaMarcus Coker Suspended

While I haven't posted much about fall practice (mostly due to there being 4 days of work without pads or contact), but there was a lot of positive feedback from the work through Monday. It wasn't just coachspeak, either. I've been following the Volunteers since I can remember, and I can't recall this kind of talk from players before. This team sounds just like that - a team. In the past, it's been the parts, not the whole. This fall it sounds different. And then, today, a kick to the nuts, a shot to the gut, and many other painful attacks to sensitive areas of the body. LaMarcus Coker, speed extraordinaire, was suspended indefinitely today after his 3rd positive drug test, which was marijuana from what sources have said.


Coker led the Volunteer football team with over 600 yards last season, and was considered the most dynamic playmaker on the UT offense going into 2007. He averaged over 6 yards per carry last season, and Coach Cutcliffe was working with him in different spots to get him the ball more, specifically, work as a slot receiver.



Just four days ago, Volquest had an exceptional story on LaMarcus chocked full of quotes from Coker about his maturity. Things like:

"I've got to be more consistent in everything, not just football."

"Coming into college, you've got a lot of freedom, and there's a lot of distractions. It took a little time for me to adjust and mature. As far as the football thing, of course you're going to mature on the field quicker. Off the field, I had to take into consideration that I am here to go to school and start zeroing in on doing those things."

"It's time to focus on the new season. People make mistakes and things happen, but my main focus is always going to be to do things right. I'm never going to focus on doing things wrong."

Even his roommate Ricardo Kemp bought into it. "I'm telling you. He's so much more focused this year," Kemp said.

These quotes are from that very good Volquest article mentioned above. Coaches have praised Coker this summer and first 4 days of practice for working hard everyday.


And now this. Damnit, LaMarcus! Screw that head on straight, man!

So, how long is he out? It depends. Fulmer, at first, was quite vague, saying he just needed to fulfill his obligations to the program. How long does that take? Who knows. Fulmer's latest quote makes it a little more clear, in my mind.

"He's got to go through the process," Fulmer said. "I can't tell you whether it's going to be a week, two weeks or a month. I'm really not going to talk about it more until I know more about the whole scenario."

He says he doesn't know, but it definitely sounds like he has his own expectation for a timetable, IF LaMarcus takes it upon himself to do the work. Could he be back for Cal? Possibly, but I doubt it. If I was a betting man, and I am, I'd say we hear about Coker's reinstatement before Florida, but he doesn't play much, if at all.

The "work" Coker has to do is to attend counseling programs, then get the okay from Mike Hamilton, then face any additional consequences from Coach Fulmer. Could be into October before we see Coker on the field.

How does this effect the football team? Somewhere between a little and a lot. It's not devastating, due to the fact that Arian Foster has been a man on a mission since his costly fumble versus Penn State, and Montario Hardesty is 100% healed from his torn ACL and following surgery. Lennon Creer is the kind of freshman who can make an immediate impact.

Still, Coker made Vol fans drool in 2006 with his electrifying, untouched 80+ yard runs. All he needed was to focus, stay healthy, and he'd be an all-purpose, shoulder-the-load type running back. Now he's on the sideline, again. One thing is for sure: this is the first time I can remember where I know the team will respond well to the adversity.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Countdown TMinus 29




Fall practice starts today at 3:40 EST! I believe this weekend's work is sans pads, so don't expect much from the coaches besides, "He looks the part," and, "Football is played with pads."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Loathed Enemy Coaches: Bottom to Top Part 2

We continue with our incredibly dumb idea of ranking Tennessee's 12 opponents' head coaches in order of least hatred to OMFGIWANT2KILLYOUNOW hatred. Like I said before, any reason I can think will be included in my rationale for this list. I ended last week with Louisiana's head coach Rickey Bustle at #7. I made myself snort while doing it, but I doubt anyone else did. Onward, to the top half.

6. Houston Nutt - Arkansas
I think I would actually rank Nutt higher if not for the circus that's come to Fayetteville. I feel sorry for him, honestly. Sure, he's insane, but he has that "mentally-handcapped-but-not-so-handicapped" look about him. Still, he lands in the upper half of this list because he had the audacity to sign a Dick and a Johnson, all the while being named Nutt. Why is that a bad thing? It wasn't ... at first. Not until every single John Q. Fute-bawl fan figured it out. It's like the Chuck Norris jokes, but not clever anymore. I also find that a person who names all of their children with names beginning with the same letter as the parent, have a complex. Houston Nutt's 4 kids: Haven, Hannah, Hailey, and the effing cherry on top, Houston the 3rd. What the hell is that about? What if your name was Xavier Nutt? What would yo do then, genius?

5. Jeff Tedford - California
You know, he seems like a nice enough guy, I guess, but like I've said over and over, I have a lot of reasons, which might not be the fault of the coach, that make me despise the coach. Tedford is generally heralded as God in Berkeley (which, in itself, is a freaking "does not compute" moment for me). Cal-Berkeley fans (1 dollar to Les Miles) continually assert that Tedford is one of the 10 best coaches in college football. One.of.the.10.best. Yeah, it pisses me off, too. He's done a good job with a dead program. Great, a lot of coaches have done that. However, it doesn't automatically put you in the upper echelon. There are two hills to climb in college football: the first, get good; the second, get great. Tedford and the Bears are beginning the climb for the 2nd one, but are still years away. I actually predict in 2 years, I'll be writing an entry called, "Can Tedford Really Take Cal to the Top?" Bookmark it, I guess. Anyway, his team came into Neyland Stadium, simultaneously crapped themselves, and went home. And for that, Coach Tedford, I don't like you.

4. Mark Richt - Georgia
With the introduction of Urban Meyer, and the re-introductions of the OBC and the Liar, Richt drops down the line. Without those 3, he'd be Enemy #1, but only because he wins in Neyland Stadium more than Rick Clausen did. Richt doesn't have that grating personality or the jokes to get a rise out of you. He just is flat out better than our head coach, and for that, I dislike him. Munson's call in the 2001 game adds to my dislike of Richt, as does Mark's timeless combover. The absolute best thing about combovers, and I see it's happening to Mark's already, is that it makes it all the more obvious when your hair begins to thin and your hairline begins to recede. I hope Richt one day embraces the bald combover style.

Regardless of his wavy hair, he brought Georgia back to the college football world, and is 3-0 in Knoxville. He's 4-2 overall against our guy, with a couple of blowouts in there. I think he'll fall down the list if we beat the Dawgs in Knoxville this season.

3. Urban Meyer - Florida
It seems a bit strange to have him here, as most Tennessee fans hate the piss out of Urban. Plus, he's the head coach at Florida, after a national title. The top 3 on this list are so close in hatred, that Meyer at 3 is more like Meyer at 1c. He's begun to put to action the Phil Fulmer Theories on Discipline, but he takes it beyond what we've seen. He suspends players for Western Carolina and Southern Miss, but they somehow play against Tennessee and LSU. He cries, moans, and bitches when anything goes against him, even if it greatly benefits say, 2,000 high school seniors. I hate the way he talks, by the way. It's kind of womanly, quivery, at times. How tall is this guy? I feel like Big Bird is coaching the Gators. He's 2-0 against Tennessee (not a surprise there - thanks CPF). His daughter is insane hot, though, so that helps his case. Overall, he's a poor disciplinarian, he's selfish, and he isn't quite a man.

2. Steve Spurrier - South Carolina
The most hated man in Tennessee from 1990 through 2001, Spurrier won many many many games over our best decade of Vols ever. Peyton Manning was 0-3 as a starter against Spurrier's squads. The OBC cracked jokes at our expense, which, to be fair, were hilarious and spot on. I think most UT fans would still rank him as the #1 on this list, but he's more fun at South Carolina, where he actually loses some games. He's less intimidating there, and he's held back his remarks about UT, well, because neither team has been very good the last 2 seasons. If South Carolina wins the division, expect the Spurrier insults to return, and for the OBC to jump back to #1.

1. Nick Saban - Alabama
Combine our biggest rival school with a lying, successful coach, and you have the #1 most hated coach in Tennessee. Alabama has not been Alabama for around 10 years now, so the hatred of the program has decreased. But this move is like the Devil merging with the SuperDevil.

Saban has already ruffled the NCAA's feathers with alleged secondary recruiting violations, whilst also calling out other SEC coaches, urging them not to turn each other in. On a completely unrelated note that has nothing to do with the prior sentence, Nick Saban was reported to be the most "turned in" coach in the SEC. In the end, Coach Saban comes off as a slimeball, and coaches at an institution full of slimeballs. Plus, he never has time for this shit.

I'm a Copy Cat

I noticed no Vol bloggers jumped on the bandwagon of posting daily pictures with countdowns to opening Saturday. So, I've decided to be the copy cat for our Tennessee contingency. Here is the first installment. We're close!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Q&A with Roll Bama Roll

I will be cross-posting this entry with my other blog, College Football Authority. I had a recent Q&A with Rico (Qs 1-6) and Todd (Q 7) from Roll Bama Roll, a great Alabama blog from guys who I would never ever consider Bammers. So, that being said, here are their opinions on the questions I asked them:

1. The preseason prognostication for Alabama is all over the board, with Phil Steele being the most optimistic: 2nd in the SEC West. I agree with him in saying the LSU-Alabama winner will win the division. What are the expectations from the Alabama fan base? Do those expectations differ from the consensus of Alabama bloggers?

It's hard to get a read on the consensus of the Alabama fanbase. Many believe Alabama's fans to be incredibly unreasonable and have expectations that are too high too soon. However, there is also a sizeable portion of the fanbase that knows Nick Saban does not walk on water and that he can't merely appear on the sidelines and have everything fixed and perfected in his first season in Tuscaloosa. My personal take (and I've seen this echoed by many others) is that an 8-4 regular season is about what people are expecting this year. Anything less would be a bit of a disappointment, though it is certainly possible. I see Alabama as having two games they should unquestionably win (Western Carolina and Louisiana-Monroe), four that they should win (Houston, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt) and then there are six that could easily go either way (Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn.) While Alabama will unquestionably be the underdog in most (if not all) of those six, they are certainly winnable. If we pick up two of those six, I think that's a realistic expectation for his first season. His unquestionably a better coach and game manager than Mike Shula so I think 8-4 is quite a realistic outlook.


2. What lesser known players are poised to have breakout seasons in 2007? Why?

These kinds of questions are always difficult because it is hard to know how players with little or no game experience will turn out. I think a few young players could step up and shine including Roy Upchurch, Terry Grant and Javier Arenas. They've all show potential in the limited time they've gotten or in scrimmages and they could certainly give us more options on an offense that didn't have a lot of options. There are others, but I don't pretend to be Phil Steele, who I think actually can see into the future.


3. I believe John Parker Wilson has the tools and the weapons around him to challenge for 1st Team All-SEC. What are your thoughts on Wilson and your expectations?

He produced fairly good numbers last year for a sophomore QB that had to run for his life nearly every time the ball was snapped. Assuming he gets better line protection this year I imagine we could really see him turn into a fine QB. One thing he does need to do better is protect the ball. There were times last year where he threw it up for grabs when he should've taken a sack and other times he should've taken a sack and protected the ball but coughed up fumbles trying to produce a miracle. Making smarter decisions in those circumstances comes with experience and he has a full season under his belt so hopefully we'll see improvement in that area. Like I said though, with better line protection and better ball protection I think he can be a real threat given that he has two great targets in DJ Hall and Keith Brown.


4. What kind of environments do you expect for home games against LSU and Tennessee?

I imagine both of those games are going to be completely insane. Tennessee has always been a game that has fired up the crowds at Bryant-Denny, but I imagine given the hope that's in the air with Nick Saban on the sidelines that the passion should be increased many times over. LSU is also a team that people have never had trouble getting fired up for, but given the way Les Miles has been shooting his mouth off I imagine things will be crazy unless they take us out of the game early. I'm just happy I have tickets for both.


5. Are you personally worried about Nick Saban's trend of leaving jobs are 4 years, or less?

Yes and no. Yes due to the fact that it is a trend that can't be ignored and for the fact that he could quit tomorrow and we'd still have to pay him for the full contract. The Alabama Athletic Department definitely got the short end of the stick in the deal. I say no though because Saban's very existence (combined with his handsome salary) has seemed to rub the entire college football world the wrong way. He certainly isn't going back to the NFL and not many other schools could pay him more, much less actually would pay him more. Even if he doesn't win a national championship here and splits in four years, if he wins an SEC Championship or two and leaves us stacked with recruits like he did LSU, I'd be okay with that I think.


6. If Alabama could only win 1 game, and 1 game only, in 2007, who would you like it to be against? Why?

Auburn without a doubt. Losing five in a row to them has been miserable and putting an end to their streak would be both a joy and a relief. I obviously don't fancy losing to LSU or Tennessee, but I could handle those better this year than I could losing to Auburn again. In 2005, I would have answered this question with Tennessee, but now it is all Auburn.


7. What kind of changes will the Tide see on defense in the transition to Kevin Steele in terms of both alignment and theory?

I'm not sure calling this season "a transition to Kevin Steele" is completely accurate. Alabama will be running Saban's system, and Steele was brought in because of his exemplary work with the Florida State linebackers and because Saban's system relies heavily on them. That being said, Steele's hire is a huge boost for both Saban's system and the guys already on the team. The FSU linebackers over the last few years were the heart and soul of that terrific defense, and they played like they would rather tackle than breathe. It's this kind of coaching ability that makes him ideal for a system so dependent on the linebackers. With only three down linemen, it's the role of the "jack" linebacker to both act as a rush end and play in space like a traditional LB. Guys like Keith Saunders and Zeke Knight are perfect for this, since both are physical enough to rush the passer but neither really has the size to play on the line, and both are also fast/athletic enough to play both the run and the pass out in space. I suppose the easiest way to answer your question is to say that Alabama will shift to a 3-4 alignment instead of the typical 4-3, and will be more complex than the simplistic "do one thing and do it better than anyone else" philosophy we saw from Joe Kines the past few seasons. That's not to take away from Kines, of course, considering he produced two of the best defenses in the country and even had a green unit with no depth up front ranked in the top 25 last year in total defense, but his strategies were so dependent on sound, fundamental football that it took players the caliber of DeMeco Ryans, Roman Harper, et al to be dominant in it. Given one more season, he would have certainly had these guys whipped into shape and schooled in the proper techniques to be dominant again but, alas, it was not to be. Enter Saban and Steele, two defensive masterminds who love a good blitz just as much, and probably more, than any other defensive coach in the country. Saban inherits an Alabama team that is very thin in the front seven (we have a converted center starting at NT), but deep, talented, and fast in the secondary. He's said several times that a lot of what we'll see this year will be done out of a nickel package to take advantage of the talent among the DBs. This isn't too far removed from the 3-4 alignment he likes, but using a nickelback as a fourth linebacker will probably pose some problems against the run. I'm not overly familiar with his time at Miami, but what I know from watching the Saban defenses at LSU is that they are both fast and disciplined, and I expect the Alabama defense to be no different. I also expect to see some more complex blitzes from the new schemes. Kines rarely disguised his blitzes but he had coached his players so well that opposing offenses couldn't stop them. With Saban, I imagine we'll see a lot more zone blitzing, and probably far more man coverage than we were used to last season.


So, there you have it. Very eloquent, thought out answers to 7 burning questions about Alabama. I wish I would have included a question about the vibe around the team this summer in the weight room, but I didn't. I'll try to set up a dialogue between myself and RBR as we roll into the 3rd week in October.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Loathed Enemy Coaches: Bottom to Top

Not much to dissect right now on the Tennessee football front, so it's time for ol' faithful - a list! With this list, I'm going to rank the head coaches of Tennessee's 12 opponents this upcoming season. I can and will include any reasoning I can think of. Whether it's our current coach's inability to consistently beat a certain coach, or the hairstyle of the coach - it's all fair game. This should be fun.

12. Steve Roberts - Arkansas State
Poor guy. He coaches at Arkansas State, which is not only in the Sun Belt conference, they are on the lower rung of it. Roberts has a name that comforts me ... Steve Roberts. Nothing to loathe there. A Google search of Steve Roberts links to an artist, a musician, and a journalist. You won't see Steve Roberts the football coach on the first page of links. For that, Steve Roberts, we salute you and your ambiguity as the head coach at Arkansas State.



11. Jeff Bower - Southern Miss
I must say, Jeff Bower could have easily been at #12. He's been an amazing coach at Southern Miss, with 13 straight winning seasons. He played and graduated from Southern Miss, and has been their head coach since 1990. The reason he isn't the least loathed of our enemies is because his team has a slight chance of beating mine, and Mr. Roberts has as much of a chance at beating UT as I have of being invited to the Hamptons. Bower, still, has a place in my heart, in the straight, manly sort of way (not that there's anything wrong with that). I like when coaches stay at their alma mater - it shows a true love for your school and the game. He's also known for consistently creating a disciplined team that fights until the last whistle blows. If your team was a little worse, you'd be #12.


10. Sylvester Croom - Mississippi State
I've heard Sylvester Croom compared to a "big ol' teddy bear" more than I ever wished I would have. He's a cuddly guy with a cuddly mustache and a cuddly name. Sylvester ... like the cat, but a human. It's precious. He's in a no-win situation but carries himself with dignity. I respect that. I also respect that he wore a jersey with the Swiss watch logo on it. Or was it the Red Cross? I don't know, but it was precious, as well. Croom might only have 2 seasons left in Cowbell Station, so he gets our pity love as well. Because he's an SEC coach, we have to loathe him a little more than some of the out of conference guys. Plus, Sylvester is, you know, precious.


9. Rich Brooks - Kentucky
When I started to write this entry, I thought my dislike for Rich Brooks would come easy, but it hasn't. He looks like a nice enough guy. He ruffled some feathers in Lexington when he somewhat insulted Jared Lorenzen, Derek Abney, and pre-Brooks Kentucky football. So, for that, Rich Brooks, I like you. Anybody, regardless of allegiance, who pisses off our mentally challenged foes up north, is good in my book. The reason, though, I don't like you, Richard, is because in 2003, you tried to move Jared Lorenzen to wide receiver. The 6'4", 285 pound quarterback ... at wide receiver. Lorenzen was unsackable! Defensive ends would bounce off of him like the recipient of a trampoline super jump. Plus, now that the Wildcats have won a bowl game, the entire fanbase has lost it's collective mind. Thus, I lay blame on you, Head Coach of Kentucky, Rich Brooks. I hope you enjoy missing a bowl.


8. Bobby Johnson - Vanderbilt
I guess this is where I begin to fully loathe the coaches I reference. It's a little unfair for Bobby because I get sick and tired of the false assertions that Bobby Johnson is somehow better than his predecessors at Vanderbilt. Of course, Bobby isn't the one saying that junk, but I loathe him for it. He's actually worse than Woody Widenhofer, but that's another story in itself. Plus, his team luckboxed a victory over the worst UT team in 20 years in 2005. Their fans still talk about it, even after the 4 touchdown loss this past November. And what's with this picture? All I see is a face! No hair, no shirt, but I'm sure they're there. I just see a face!


7. Rickey Bustle - Louisiana at Lafayette
Yeah, I said it. I don't like you Rickey Bustle, and nobody else should either. Sure, you have a wife and kid, and you've done great things for your Ragin Cajuns. Ken Lay did good things for Enron at one point, too. First of all, you were Mike Vick's college quarterback coach. That alone should make you an accessory to the two felony charges Mr. Mexico is facing. Second, you coached Jim Druckenmiller. Jim freaking Druckenmiller. Druckenmiller was a back-up ... IN THE ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE. I didn't even know they had back-ups in that league. Third, your cabeza is too big for your body. Petty? Sure I am. But it's like a watermelon atop a tennis ball - it shouldn't be able to happen. Next, that gap. David Letterman feels sorry for you. Lastly, you remind me of Greg Popovich, and I don't like him either. Burnt!

I would just like to say that I am only poking fun.



Expect the 2nd half of this ridiculous idea on Monday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Layout

I'm an absolute HTML newbie, so I didn't quite change everything I wanted to ... yet. I would love feedback on the layout, even negative feedback as long as it's the truth. Tons of postings scheduled for the upcoming work week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Are Things Heating Up?

This work week has been filled with stories from Volquest, GoVolsXtra, etc. It's the first week this offseason where I finally "feel it." Maybe it's because I'm taking a more analytical approach to the stories I read, but it seems like our Vols are in the right mindset to win the division.

Chris Low at Volquest talked with Steve Caldwell, who in turn, talked about his defensive ends. I can't find the link from spring, but I remember Fulmer and Co. talking about how Xavier Mitchell had the best spring from a DE ever. Now, this, about Antonio Reynolds: "'When he came back from spring break, he was a different player,' Caldwell said. 'I don't know what it was. Not that I coached him any different or did anything different, but when he came back after spring break, he looked the best he's looked since he's been here.'" Caldwell said similar things about Robert Ayers, and said Wes Brown played well in the spring.

Our defense produced only 17 sacks last season, the lowest of the Fulmer era. Demonte Bolden and J.T. Mapu will not only need to play strong as run-stopping studs in the middle, but they need to have the one-gap skills to open up the outside for our ends. All of this, in turn, will make it easier on a secondary that will most likely see meaningful snaps from 3 newcomers.

Speaking of Mapu, Dave Hooker over at GoVolsXtra has a nice piece on the Samoan. Mapu said about himself this spring and summer: "Got a little lighter and a whole lot stronger. Got a little quickness back." We all remember that Mapu started 12 games in 2003 before he left Knoxville on his mission trip. He arrived last season over 300 pounds and out of shape. Now, he's stronger, faster, and a senior.

In the same article from Hooker, Jon Hefney had some things to say about two newcomers - Eric Berry and C.J. Fleming. Hefney about Berry: "I think he’s going to be good but we’ve got to put on the pads. He told me he was a safety. Well, we know he can hit then." Hefney about Fleming: "I think he’ll be the sleeper. I think he’ll be like Inky." Coming from a senior, I like what I hear. Hooker also has an article about Jarod Parrish, who has apparently taken the apple of Phil's eye. Hooker is a machine, as he also covers Brad Cottam and expectations from Cutcliffe and Matt Luke.

Drew Edwards has a good article about the 3 running backs over at GVX, again.He also penned an article on Erik Ainge and his increased strength. "He’s at 225 pounds now, and UT strength coach Johnny Long raved about his work ethic this summer."

Finally, Austin Price at Volquest has an excellent read on Johnny Long, UT's strength and conditioning coach. This article, plus a lot of other reports around the pay sites, continue to talk about the incredible work ethic throughout the program this summer. We haven't heard this kind of stuff in a long time. Maybe I'm naive, but it makes me have even higher hopes for 2007.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vol Blogs Tuesday and Starters Note

First, I have updated the current starting lineup graphic here. Fall practice will bring about plenty of changes, so check it weekly if you like it.

Second, Rocky Top Talk posted the #3 signee from our recruiting class, Brent Vinson. This is, in my opinion, the best RTT prospect report yet. Vinson has been wowing people in campus this summer, from all reports. He already has the physical tools, and is apparently picking up the mental aspect of the game.

Third, Fulmer's Belly continues to fake us out by posting every 5 days or so. He's going to the Cal game, I'm going to the Cal game. Hopefully Joel from RTT is going. Beers for both if they go.

Fourth, I just realized there are only 3 UT year-round blogs.

Fifth,
(ugh, longer than I had hoped - wishing I hadn't said "First" up top) I've got a special e-mail interview/Q&A with Chris from Smart Football about the pros and cons of the no huddle, as well as other facets about the approach. His blog is incredible if you like the deep Xs and Os of college (and pro) football. Look for that soon.

Sixth, and finally, I have set up a Q&A with Nico at Roll Bama Roll (one of the good Alabama fans out there) about their expectations for 2007. I'll probably cross-post that at College Football Authority. Keep an eye for that, as well.

Alright, keep visiting, as I have some super secretive plans that could take this blog to a better level.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We're Getting Closer

Now that I have my Cal tickets, it's time to ramp up the insults (playfully, of course) directed towards the Bears. I downloaded the picture editing software The Gimp a few weeks ago and I'm obsessed. So, today's Cal Bears Mockery Entry is dedicated another ROFLCat type picture.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Reminder for Cal Tickets

Vol fans: As of right now, the Cal ticket office is selling general admission and other reserved seating tickets on their website. Tomorrow you can order by phone. I bought mine today. Here is the link.

We sold out our 7,500 allotment to the donors, which is great! If we have get 5,000-7,500 MORE people into Memorial Stadium, we'll take up almost 25% of the venue! $44 for a general admission seat, and I advise that all of us arrive early and get to the Blue Zone, to make sure we sit near Section PP, the visitors' section. Check it out on this seating chart.



Our presence matters! Remember Miami, 2003? We brought soomething like 25,000 UT fans and ended Miami's home winning streak. BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE NOW, HURRY!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Current Starting Lineup




NOTE: You can click on the image to enlarge it. I can barely read it without enlarging it, and I have eyes like a hawk.

July 11th: I thought this might be a cool little diddy for the blog. I'll add a link to it on the side with updates every time we change our starting 22. Right now, you won't see the new freshmen or JUCOs in the lineup, because they haven't been named starters. Ryan Karl could be replaced on this, but I decided not to. Maybe the graphic is awful - if it is, tell me.

July 17th:
Inserted Anthony Parker at starting guard, due to Brent Hubbs saying he locked a spot down. The other guard spot is between Foster, McClendon, and Richard - so I put Foster. Moved Young back to LT and Scott to RT. Scott had a good spring by all accounts, but it seems Young is still the LT for now. OLB Ryan Karl has a back injury, but there hasn't been word on how serious it really is, yet. Once we know, we'll change the graphic. We'll see a ton of changes to this once the players start fall practice on August 3rd. The two corners, two receivers, running back, strong safety, and guard spots could all have different starters before September 1st in Berkeley.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Toughest Games: Top to Bottom

This entry is influenced by a forum thread over at my most common hitching post, Vol Nation. What will be Tennessee's toughest games, in order, from the toughest to the easiest? This shouldn't just consider talent, but also experience, location of the game, timing of the game, etc. It'd be neat if some prominent bloggers would step up and do this for their teams (I'm looking at you, Burnt Orange Nation, Swamp Ball, The Band is Out..., Dawg Sports, etc). I will allow (haha, right, me ... allow?) each blogger to eliminate up to 3 super easy, cupcake games from their list, if they'd like. Here is how I see Tennessee's schedule, with thoughts.

1. at Alabama (Oct. 20th)
When I predict games, I base it on a mix of statistical analysis, action analysis, and a little bit of gut feeling. This game has my gut feeling nauseous. Alabama, while finishing 6-7, underperformed quite a bit in 2006. Even if Mike Shula had returned for another season, they would have won 7 or 8 games. Add in Nick Saban plus his Super Friends coaching staff, and you add 2 games to that win total, at the least. Saban will not only bring better coaching tactics, but more discipline, respect, control, etc. Keep in mind that Alabama goes into the season with the best QB-WR grouping in the conference, on paper. This game is going to be tough, tough, tough. In all honesty, this could be a 6-0 Tennessee travelling to a 6-1 Alabama. Talk about reviving the bad blood on the 3rd Saturday.
2. at Florida (Sep. 15th)

I almost put the Gators at the 1 spot, but I think a few things play into Tennessee's hands. First, everyone knows about the new starters Florida will breaking in this season. Tennessee will be the first real offense they face. Also, nobody can deny this, we don't know how well Urban Meyer's spread option will work, week in and week out, in the SEC. This will be UF's first test with the offense in the SEC, and Tennessee has the double-edged sword gift of being the first team to try to stop it.

3. Georgia (Oct. 6th)
Plenty of Vol fans will point to the 18 point victory we had in Athens last season, and that this game is now in Knoxville. Who cares? While the jury is out on Matt Stafford, he doesn't need to shoulder the load to beat Tennessee. He has a solid stable of running backs and Joe Tereshinski won't be around. And if you've forgotten already, Mark Richt is 3-0 in Neyland Stadium. If Stafford is even moderately improved, Richt could move to 4-0 in the house the General built.
4. at California (Sep. 1st)
The Cal game is probably the toughest to accurately rank, mostly because Cal is a very tough team to predict for this season. I'm with Phil Steele on the Bears: 4th or 5th in the Pac 10, with a lot of disappointment for their fans. However, Cal will be very motivated for this game. Then again, so will our Volunteers, so I think that's a wash. Tennessee has travelled to at least 10 venues over the last 6 years that have been more hostile than Memorial Stadium will be in September. I'm more worried about the cross country flight and a new secondary than I am the crowd noise. Cal's defense won't give us fits, but their vertical passing attack will.
5. Arkansas (Nov. 10th)
This is another tough team to rank on our schedule. They completely blasted us last season, and they still have the two backs who did it to us. On the other hand, they lost 3 of their 5 bulldozers on the line (which is not all of their linemen [inside joke]), and they've been mired in an offseason chocked full of controversy and distraction. If our defensive front improves, we should be able to win this game without too much drama.
6. South Carolina (Oct. 27th)
Again, another tough one. Basically, 4-6 could be in any order. South Carolina returns an entire nation of starters, but I think our home field advantage cancels that out. In the Season of Which We Do Not Speak (reference: Rocky Top Talk), we lost to Spurrier and the Cocks at home. Our worst team in how long? 20 years? Steve Spurrier will always give Phillip Fulmer fits, especially with a senior quarterback who sweats like a hoebag in church. Be worried, but don't mess your pants - South Carolina is the SEC East wildcard.
7. Southern Miss (Sep. 8th)
I can hear you now, "WHAAAAAAT?!" It's true. Southern Miss at 7. I actually wanted to put the Eagles higher, but couldn't. If you looked up "trap game" in the Cliched College Football Dictionary (available at bookstores everywhere), you'd see Southern Miss @ Tennessee. This game comes a week after Tennessee travels to California, and a week before the biggest game of the season, at Florida. Wait, if Tennessee loses to Cal, the SMU game isn't a trap game, anymore, I don't think. But we'll win at Cal. Southern Miss is predicted to be the best team in Conference USA, and Jeff Bower always field discliplined, tough teams. Watch out guys, this one could bite us in the hindquarters.
8. at Kentucky (Nov. 24th)
I know, I know, I know - half of you reading this think Kentucky will be good again. They might be, but I doubt it. Their defense won't improve, and you cannot be successful two years in a row with a defense as putrid as theirs. Kentucky benefited from some close win variance last year, so expect a return to the mean. Will Kentucky be as bad as they once were? No. But don't expect another 7 win regular season.
9. at Mississippi State (Oct. 13th)
Another trap game - a road game, sandwiched between our 3rd biggest rival and our most bitter rival. Yuck. With Phil Fulmer's seat a little warmer than toasted bread, but not as scalding as an inferno, I could see a situation where he's Croomed. You know, a coach loses to Croom, then gets canned at season's end? It's not likely, but if it happens, things could get sticky-icky.
10. Vanderbilt (Nov. 17th)
Our last real opponent on the list. Apparently, some people think Bobby Johnson is a good coach, but I disagreed a few months ago. If Tennessee is 10-0, 9-1, or 5-5 going into this game, I'd be a little nervous, but the Commodores were comatose last season in our match up, and I don't think Chris Nickson is anything special. After Arkansas, before Kentucky, ehhhhhhhh.
11. Arkansas State (Sep. 22nd)
Gnat.
12. Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 3rd)
Gnat.



So, there you have it: a quick guide to our toughest games of 2007. Do you agree? Disagree? Want to belittle me? Sleep in every Saturday before the season starts? Then leave a comment and tell me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Proof that Bammers are Scum

Let me preface this entry by saying that not all Alabama fans are Bammers. Bammers are the Tide's version of asshole fans - fans that don't understand that while college football is life, it really isn't. Some things are bigger than athletics, to say the least.

Onto why Bammers are scum.

ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski posted a story yesterday about the Jason Foundation, a foundation that helps children and teenagers battling with depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies/etc. Basically, the article went in depth about how the Flatt family lost a son to suicide, started the foundation, and went to Coach Fulmer to help. Fulmer got 100% behind the foundation, helping raise donations at events, putting money in from his own pocket, and generally being the face of the foundation. You should really read the entire article.

Obviously, being a Tennessee alumnus, I am extremely proud to see a fellow Volunteer do such charitable things, especially someone with such power and wealth. You would imagine that people would respect the foundation and what Fulmer has done. NOPE!

If you head on over to www.tidefans.com, you'll see a thread started on the forums about the article from Woj. The replies start out respectful enough, I guess. However, it spiraled pretty quickly. I'll quote some of the highlights.

"As for Fullmer, I don't care if he saved 100 puppies from drowning until he does something for Alabama or admits he did wrong I hope he rots in hell." (from an ADMINISTRATOR of the site)

"Phil is a scumbag of the worst order."

Followed by ringing endorsements of this sick mindset. Things like, "This just about sums up my feelings for the fat one north of us," and, "You are correct, one at a boy does not make up for all the lying, cheating, scumbag, underhanded secret witness crap."

To be fair, some ALABAMA fans had nice things to say about Fulmer's involvement with the foundation. On the other hand, I can't imagine another rival team's message board being as harsh as this one. Bammers are classless, delusional individuals. You must realize that the charity work Fulmer, Saban, Richt, etc. do is far, far bigger than the game we love. I can't begin to fathom having football rivalries taking priority over human improvement. This foundation has and will save hundreds of kids' lives, but yet, you Bammers couldn't give a shit about that? You care more about baseless stories about "lies" Fulmer has told the NCAA. Yes, Fulmer was a secret witness in a case that was proof of your administration's actions, of which you cannot question the validity. You continue to spout on about how "Fulmer lied about Shaun Alexander, lied about this, lied about that." SHOW US, THEN! Show us something from that investigation that outlines all of "Fulmer's lies." You might find one lie, no more.

In the end, I'm disappointed that people can act like that. This is football, and while I'll sacrifice a lot of things to enjoy the game I love, I know where the game should be on my list of priorities.