Posts Tagged ‘Arian Foster’

Clay Travis’ “On Rocky Top”: Beautiful Agony

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

On Rocky Top After living through the unmitigated disaster that was the 2008 football season for the Tennessee Volunteers, I was not so sure I was prepared to take a stroll with Clay Travis down memory lane via his new book “On Rocky Top.”  The 2008 season was the most gut-wrenching experience of my sports-watching life, one which Travis himself likened to having your arm amputated without laudanum.  It was truly painful and not merely because the Vols lost seven games.  Losing comes with competition, I can handle losing.  Watching an entire program, an entire fanbase, an entire state devolve into a constant state of turmoil, however, was the part that made it an experience that I was more than ready to forget.  Even  after nine months of good vibrations—buoyed up by the hopes and energy of new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin and his band of invincibles—assuming that I was prepared to join Travis’ on his retrospective journey through the 2008 season, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to make that trip into the past.

I suppose, I was just ready to move on.

When first I saw that Clay Travis had written a book on the Vols 2008 football campaign, my reaction was that he picked one hell of a bad year to write about Tennessee.  I knew Clay was a fine writer, having read his work for CBS Sports.com, Fanhouse, and his book Dixieland Delight.  Still, I remember thinking to myself “Man, that really stinks for Clay—all that work to write a book about a 5-7 season.” After all, who wants to read about a team that loses, and loses a lot?

You do.

Clay Travis’ new book “On Rocky Top” is one of the best sports books I have read in a long time.

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2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 6

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Rocky Top Talk

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Rocky Top Talk and serves up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the orange-clad denizens who follow the Tennessee Volunteers.

In the interest of full disclosure, HSH sent me his responses to this week’s questions earlier in the week.  In theory, I was then supposed assemble a post including my answers along with his.  In theory, this sounds simple … in theory.  Reality is quite a different matter.  I have been woefully unreliable in terms of my posting of late due to my “real life,” and more specifically, my “real job.”

Thus, as a result of me being completely backed-up in preparation for an upcoming trial (a/k/a “evidence manipulation conference”) I am yet again forced to punt—at least for the moment.  This is particularly annoying considering how great the questions are this week.  Thus, for now the only answers I have to offer are those from HSH—which is probably a good thing considering that he actually knows what he’s talking about.  I will try to add in my responses later, if possible.  Until then, however, here are HSH’s thoughts for the week:

Week 6

1) Which newcomer do you expect to play the most total snaps for the Vols this fall?

bullet HSH: Well, by the looks of things, we know for sure it won’t be Bryce Brown, though he may be the best talent of the freshmen.

Though I have trouble remembering him actually being a freshman, it almost has to be Montori Hughes at defensive tackle, simply because of the lack of depth at defensive tackle and the sore, wobbly knees of senior end-turned-tackle Wes Brown.  With Brown’s knees, its almost more a question of when as opposed to if they’re going to take him out of action.  I have to take this moment to say his never-quit attitude and what he’s been saying about his situation has him rapidly climbing up my favorite 2009 Vols.

Back to Hughes, I said he doesn’t seem like a freshman because of three things: first, he’s obviously from the 2008 class out of Siegel High School in middle Tennessee, but didn’t qualify.  Secondly, he enrolled in January, so he was in for the spring, so it’s like he’s been at UT for longer than the other freshman.  Finally, it’s because he’s a very large man.  Either way, it’s clear he’s moved up to the third tackle spot, behind Williams and Brown and ahead of Victor Thomas, Rae Sykes and Marlon Walls.

But given the situation at defensive tackle behind Big Dan Williams, Hughes has to be the freshman who will see the most action.

As for the “true” freshman with the most impact, I’ll say receiver Marsalis Teague.  I went to last Thursday’s practice and last Saturday’s scrimmage, and Teague had some impressive plays.  I think Gerald Jones and Brandon Warren will be the top 2 wideouts, but Teague is my third (and Quintin Hancock fourth), given the injury to Denarius Moore.  Also, Teague seems like more a pure receiver than Nu’Keese Richardson in my opinion.


bullet Lawvol: (Long thoughtful pause followed by a longer, yet less thoughtful, sucking sound…)

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Can We Just Forfeit?

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Please??

I know, I know, forfeiting – what you might call quitting – is a bad thing. But after watching the most pitiful display of football last Saturday from my nice comfortable seats in the second row of the upper deck, I really wish it just be November 30 already and the end of this horribly difficult 2008 season.

Before I say anything else, I need to congratulate the Wyoming Cowboys for their win. They played hard and didn’t make mistakes. That’s what every underdog everywhere in every sport pretty much has to do to pull off an upset.

Congrats to Wyoming, but there is no way they should beat any Tennessee team

Here are some relevant stats for Wyoming: coming into Saturday, they were 3-6, 1-5 in the Mountain West. Good enough for a tie for seventh in the league, with UNLV. The week before they crushed San Diego State for their lone MWC win (and I joked that they would actually beat Tennessee when I saw they won this game rather easily). Head coach Joe Glenn was likely (and still may be) going to be out of a job at season’s end.

The three-headed monster making the MWC look like an underrated conference – Utah, TCU and BYU – beat the Cowboys 138-14. This team was the worst offensive team in the country coming into Saturday’s game.

And this team came into Neyland Stadium and beat Tennessee.

OK, I admit I laughed after the first fluky near pick-six. That play was so typical of our season. I wasn’t laughing after the second one. I wasn’t laughing after the incomplete passes on fourth downs late in the game.

But I was walking out, I really wasn’t all that mad. I really wasn’t even all that embarrassed. I bailed on caring about this season long ago. Does it suck when we look back in the near future and see Tennessee actually did lose to Wyoming? Well of course. But honestly, most people – myself very much included – care more about the coaching search than the Vandy and Kentucky games.

And we should be. Why? Because if the players are going to claim to go out there and play “all-out” for their fired coach, and they show what they showed last Saturday, why should we care? Look, many fans may have stopped watching awhile ago. I said I was gonna watch as long as the effort was there. It was clearly missing Saturday.

So I made the immediate decision (sometime around the middle of the fourth quarter) that I sure as hell won’t be coming up for Kentucky – and I’m not the only one I’m sure. Call me fair-weathered, whatever you want. I showed my support for Philip Fulmer. I gave him a pat on the shoulder and a “thanks coach” at the Vol Walk last week. If they’re going to respond by not showing up and losing to WYOMING, why should I still show my support?

Now I’m not saying the team owes me, the fan, anything. Well, showing some signs of caring would be nice. Let me put it this way, and keep in mind I’m not one to bash players: where was Arian Foster? “Thigh bruise?” Funny, Dan Williams, Ellix Wilson, Wes Brown and others haven’t seemed to be effected with playing through injuries.

To close out, people always talk about Tennessee being completely irrelevant. Well, there are ways to stay relevant, even at 3-6 with a lame-duck coach. One is losing to Wyoming. Other possibilities? Being Vanderbilt’s bowl-clinching, history-making, streak-breaking sixth win. Having the nation’s longest streak of ownage broken on your home field on the day to honor a coaching legend. Hello, 3-9…

Fortunately, hoops season starts Saturday night. I’ll have more on that and more on my choice for Tennessee’s next coach in the near future.

It is going to be nice to finally win something...

Oh don’t worry, it’s coming…


Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / GVXAmy Smotherman-Burgess / GVX

Postgame Thoughts: Northern Illinois 9 — Tennessee 13

You know, improvement is a funny thing…

Sometimes you have to take a step or two backwards before you can begin moving forwards.  This weekend we saw a little of both—improvement and stepping backwards.  Either way, it was a win—a really, really, ugly win, but a win nonetheless.

Now that I am finally feeling a bit better physically—having shucked the plague I had for the better part of last week—here are a few random thoughts on the Vols’ play against Northern Illinois.

Nick Stephens:

Stephens looked capable in his first start.

Well, Nick Stephens isn’t going to win All-America or All-SEC honors this year, but what he showed as the starting quarterback this weekend was heartening.  First, he showed focus at all times.  While he did make a few first-start gaffs, on the whole his head was in the game the entire time.  Second, he showed heart and determination.  There was never a moment when he seemed to simply be going through the motions.  In short, this game really mattered to him.

Stephens will only improve as he starts getting all of snaps in practice with the first team.  So long as he does not become complacent, he can really help improve the offense.  Fundamentals are the key to success and it seemed Stephens was focusing on the basics in his play versus the Huskies—nothing flashy, nothing unusual, just clean snaps, clean handoffs, clean passes.  He also showed something that has not been seen since Erik Ainge played his last down in January—a long-ball threat with reliable accuracy.  That could really come in handy down the road.

In summary, Stephens did not wow me with his playmaking abilities—which is good.  He did his job, played his role, played within his abilities, and apparently impressed some of his teammates with his focus and determination.  He smartly decided to save the swagger until he has earned the right to strut.  More importantly, he showed that he deserves to be the one and only quarterback for the foreseeable future.  Nice game, Nick, keep up the good work.

Now why is it again he didn’t come in against Auburn?  Never mind, don’t answer that question…

The Defense:

Well, from a “style” perspective, it was hardly their best game of the season, but it was by no means a poor showing by the Tennessee defensive unit.  In fact, as has been the case in every game this season—the defense did enough to win the game.  While the Northern Illinois receivers did seem to find more room for catches than they should have, and the defensive line was not dominated by the Vols, in the end they did what they had to do.  They did not allow a touchdown—and have only allowed a single touchdown in two games.  They held Northern Illinois to 190 total yards (72 rushing / 118 passing) and they did their job.

Again, Nevin McKenzie, Rico McCoy, and Eric Berry seemed to be everywhere on the field on defense combining for 23 tackles (McKenzie-9, McCoy-8, Berry-6), and Berry made another gamebreaking play with a 48 yard interception return which put the Vols in position to score a field goal in the second quarter.

The defense has proven that it can be depended upon…

The Offense:

The offensive line continues to leave me scratching my head…

The offensive line continues to allow penetration far more often than they should.  I realize that Erik Ainge—who was more than willing to dump the ball into the seats if he felt pressure—is no longer calling the signals, but this offensive line should not be allowing defenders to harass the quarterback the way they do.  This line is too strong, too fast, too talented, and too experienced for this sort play.  I understand that this is not the same team as last year, but the level of play from this squad has been severely lacking this year.  Their poor play allowed the sack and fumble at just under 4:00 mark in the third quarter.

If Nick Stephens is going to have a chance to get the offense going, then the offensive line is going to have to do their jobs and protect the quarterback…

The running game—which looked so promising earlier in the season—apparently did not dress out for this weekend’s game.  Tennessee racked up a net of 69 yards on 32 rushing attempts (2.15 avg per carry).  While Arian Foster managed 76 total yards, neither he nor Montario Hardesty really managed to run the ball effectively.  It was disappointing that Lennon Creer did not get any carries.

The receiving corps did enough to win, but not much more.  Denarius Moore, however, had a nice showing with 3 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.  As with the running backs, this unit needs to work a little harder to give their new quarterback some bigger more effective targets throughout the game.

More importantly, when the ball gets thrown to them, it would be most helpful if they would catch it…

Coaching:

I’ll give the coaching staff—most notably the Great Punkin and Dave Clawson—a little credit for making the call to give Stephens the start.  I just wish they had reached this decision a little sooner.  To the extent that Mike Hamilton had anything to do with this, I’ll give him credit too.  Still, the offense continues to look ragged, even with the quarterback change.  This unit simply has to improve or the upcoming contests against the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide are going to be long, hateful, and humiliating experiences.

Furthermore, it is high time for every position to be up for grabs…

On the defensive side of the ball, while—like many—I do not always agree with some of the defensive play calling, it is hard to criticize a unit which seems to play together as well as the defensive squad does, especially in the face of such poor performances by the offense.

Final Thoughts:

This game was not pretty.  It was ugly.  It was much closer than it should have been.  It was a nail-biter that never should have been.  That said, it is a win.  It is a step forward toward improvement.  I personally think that the decision to give Stephens the start was what made that happen.  Hopefully, that is not the only change the we on-lookers will see going forward.  While this game is hardly one for the ages, it is a building block which can serve as a step toward salvaging the remainder of the season.

Oh yeah, and in case you didn’t notice, none of the remaining games look the slightest bit easy…

If this team and this coaching staff are going to try and make something of this season, then they are going to have to earn it.  With an undefeated Vanderbilt, a Kentucky team that lost to Alabama by three points, and a South Carolina team which won a tough game versus Ole Miss, there are no sure-thing wins left in this season.  Of course, I am ignoring Georgia and Alabama because … well … I think those sort of speak for themselves.  Unlike some, I am not ready to say this team is doomed, but I will say it will be an uphill battle.  I have no doubt that this team has the skills and the players to win, I simply do not know if they will manage to do it.  I hope so.

All I can say is that, after this weekend and the performance of the new starting quarterback, at least I believe it is possible—probably not likely, but possible—which is an improvement over last week.  It’s not much, but at least it’s something…


» Updated: 6 October 2008 –9:53am

There’s a great piece on the Vols continuing woes by Joel, which is worth looking at, along with a similar piece by Holly at Snarktastic.

Check them out…

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: Go Vols Xtra / Saul Young

That Makes Two

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Post-Auburn Thoughts: Coming Upon the Unknown

The view from Section 37, Row 62 of Jordan-Hare Stadium

I honestly think a blow out would have been a better way to lose.

Going into this game, I had very low expectations for the Vols. With all the negativity and Auburn coming off a home loss, I wasn’t liking to Vols’ chances Saturday afternoon. A number of really good friends of mine from high school go to Auburn, so I was more or less looking forward to that aspect of my trip down to The Plains, and not-so-much to the game. However…

To be blunt, this loss really really hurt(s).

More than UCLA. Probably even more than Florida to be honest. I can’t really explain why, either. A road win at a place like Auburn – no matter how ugly – could have potentially changed some things. And you can’t tell me Tennessee should NOT have won that game. Matter of fact, the Vols did everything BUT win the damn thing. Maybe that’s why.

A first down would have done it. Hell, eight yards on a couple drives would have gotten Tennessee into Daniel Lincoln‘s range. Does Auburn’s defense deserve credit? Sure, but it’s no secret as to why Tennessee lost Saturday.

I’m not the type that likes to single out players, but you almost have to pin Saturday’s loss on Jonathan Crompton. A botched handoff (he’s GOT to put the ball in Arian Foster’s chest). Throws 15 yards out-of-bounds when he’s got time to find somebody open. Missed receivers (hello, Josh Briscoe in the corner of the end zone on the two-point conversion). High throws to guys that are open. Miscommunications with receivers. Utter incompetence.

The offensive struggles for Tennessee are no fault of the dangerous Jones

OK, I’ve criticized Crompton. Now for the only positive I can see that he brings – the guy can take a hit or twenty and he always pops right back up. That run on third-and-long on the TD drive comes to mind. He gets hit a lot, but the guy ain’t afraid of getting the crap knocked out of him. That doesn’t help your team win ballgames though, apparently.

Once again, the offense has enough talent to win games – especially one in which the defense and special teams played out of their minds (more on them coming). Dave Clawson isn’t an idiot. This loss? I’m putting it all on Crompton. I don’t dislike the guy as much as Ghost over at 3SIB, but it’s getting closer.

The “receivers aren’t getting separation” argument is garbage. We know Gerald Jones is a stud. You can’t tell me Lucas Taylor isn’t an SEC receiver. Josh Briscoe is a very good slot-type receiver.

The coaches said afterwards they discussed putting Nick Stephens in – THEY SHOULD HAVE. Average QB play wins that game Saturday – likely by a couple scores as well, to be honest. Stephens now gets his chance, and honestly Coach Fulmer would be continuing to dig his own grave if Crompton starts/gets many snaps Saturday night against Northern Illinois.

The only other offensive change that needs to be made for me? Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer need to get more touches. I like Arian Foster and he’s had a great career, but I don’t hold my breath that he’s going to break a long one. With #2 and #3, I do, simply because they have that ability. We know about Hardesty’s power, and we saw his speed on the sweep he scored on. Creer doesn’t fear hitting the hole. He don’t dance. On one play in the fourth quarter, he dragged four Auburn players about four yards. GET THESE GUYS THE BALL!

Give Hardesty and Creer more touches PLEASE

One word describes the defensive effort Saturday: swarming. Granted Auburn’s offense is terribly bad and obviously predictable, but the defense dominated. Dan Williams was huge. The young DEs Chris Walker and Ben Martin played very, very well. Ellix Wilson may be the most important player to this defense, including Eric Berry. Wilson’s injury status is still up-in-the-air as far as I know, but the play didn’t look so good on TV when I watched the game replay. We even adjusted to Kodi Burns when Auburn foolishly threw him out there (everyone and their mother knew he wasn’t throwing).

Gerald Williams finally saw the field and made his presence known. I know he had a personal foul penalty, but the guy needs to be out there. You can in no way blame the defense at all for Saturday’s loss. Much like ’05, you give up 7 points, you should win that game. I know that one last stop on third down would have been ideal, but seriously, they did that all day and the offense blew it over and over again.

No, Adam Myers-White, there is nothing more you and the Tennessee defense could have done for a W...

Even our special teams won the day. Chad Cunningham must have been threatened with death at halftime, because he was ridiculously good in the second half, after a pitiful first half. As I’ve said before, Gerald Jones has big-play ability and almost took one back for six.

Honestly, I’m more optimistic now than I was this time last week, even after this hurtful loss. Tennessee could very, VERY easily be 3-1. For some reason, Nick Stephens gives me hope. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s because there isn’t any with Jonathan Crompton running this offense. He may not even start, but the unknown he brings and the possibility he even might has me hopeful. Do I think Tennessee beats Georgia and/or Alabama? Not really, but that potential unknown with Stephens/no more Crompton makes me wonder. I don’t expect Stephens to be the next Peyton Manning or anything remotely close, but can anybody really be worse than what Tennessee has had now?

The past two Auburn games I’ve attended have been wins for the Warring TigerEagles (Tennessee in ’03 and Florida in ’06), so I’ve seen that campus after a W. No I didn’t go to Toomer’s Corner to see them roll a tree, but you would not have thought the Tigers had won Saturday. The mood was somber (I heard almost no “War Eagle!”s). Whether it was because they knew Tennessee should have won or that they have a plethora of issues themselves (or maybe they had just woken up from getting put to sleep…), I don’t know.

But walking around the campus after the game, I was proud to be a Vol fan Saturday night. Amidst all the negativity around Tennessee football, the players came out and played emotional, inspired football. They left it all out there. They played well enough to win – it just didn’t happen. As they headed to the tunnel to the locker room below me, I applauded them. Why? They deserved it. Hopefully they will be able to put it all together and win a big game or two and finish out the season respectfully. We all may want Coach Fulmer gone, but we certainly don’t want to see Tennessee lose.

Do I still think Tennessee needs a coaching change? Of course. But it wasn’t the coaching staff’s fault Saturday. I know you can say they should have benched Crompton, but honestly, you expect even him to be able to get you a first down when that’s about all you need to win the game. You could have put me at QB and even might have been to go through my progressions and make a throw on target to my receiver to get a first down

I say let the Nick Stephens era BEGIN!!


Images Courtesy of: Butch Dill / AP (Daylife)

I’m Done

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Thanks Phil, But…

Saturday afternoon was it for me. I have avoided jumping over to the side of the fence that wants a change in the head coaching position at Tennessee for quite awhile now, but Saturday’s performance pushed me over said fence full-bore.

The bottom line is that Tennessee is going to be a middle-of-the-pack SEC program until a change at the head coaching position is made.

I flirted with jumping on the “Fire Fulmer” wagon after the 59-20 loss to Florida last year, but still didn’t. That day, the reason was the fact that our team quit and attitude reflects leadership. I even managed to avoid it after the horrible trip to Alabama when the entire staff forgot how to do their jobs. I dismissed UCLA as a fluke.

But Saturday’s performance was just an awful display of football in every phase of this great game. Tennessee may not have the talent of the 90s (as Ghost of Neyland over at 3SIB points out here) and Florida may be loaded, but the fact of the matter is that Tennessee is too talented a team to get blown out at home and play as poorly as they did.

My most adamant complaint is kicking to Brandon James – twice. He beat us – both times. What does it take? Essentially three (in the sense one was called back) times we have let him beat us. Three. I threatened all week that if we kicked to him and he returned it, I would leave Neyland Stadium. I about did.

Obviously we should have punted it to Section P, but apparently everybody BUT our coach (or our punter) already new that...

Offensively, the execution is pitiful. Most of that I think is because Jonathan Crompton is, for lack of a better word, incompetent. Is he progressing? Slightly, but he is so mistake-prone that it’s to a point where Dave Clawson is now limited as to what he can do. I’m still giving Clawson the benefit of the doubt, but Crompton just doesn’t have it between the ears. I miss Erik Ainge…

Arian Foster, our supposed senior leader on offense, gets a stupid personal foul penalty making a third-and-short into a third-and-long, yet he misses no time. Foster disappeared in a big game yet again, yet still is the starter and Tennessee’s primary ball carrier when BOTH Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer have shown more explosiveness. I have liked Arian, but I have been told that he isn’t the leader many of us expected he would be.

Defensively, I don’t know what to say. Yes, we held the powerfully explosive Gators to 200-something yards, but I credit that more to the fact Florida basically ran draw and read plays the entire second half up 27-0. You would have a tough time telling me that if that game was being played in Gainesville Saturday, that Florida doesn’t get 50.

That said, the defensive effort is certainly there. They showed some backbone and never stopped fighting, but what’s the point? What more can Eric Berry do? When is his play going to infect everyone else? We still can’t stop anybody on third downs…

Don’t even get me started on special teams. Lawvol went through that extensively in the new “Marching Orders from the General” feature (we have yet another one on tap for tomorrow as well). Maybe it’s just Chad Cunningham

Defenses we still play: Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and yes, even Kentucky...UH OH

Florida made it look real, real easy Saturday. They didn’t even really have to try much and just let Tennessee make mistakes. Yes the Gators made plays when they had to, but they made that win look terrifyingly easy. They got in, got out, and on their way to their tougher games against LSU and Georgia.

Point is that this is just not a good football team from the coaching on down. And it’s a shame, too. There’s a pretty good level of talent on this team and it’s being wasted. The players work too hard for this. Offensively this is mostly due to the poor QB play. Overall, defense included, this team just lacks aggressiveness.

I watch LSU pull out a gutsy win at Auburn Saturday night, and they run an onside kick and their defense (Auburn’s, Georgia’s, Florida’s, Alabama’s this season as well) is just flying around making plays. In scoring position with a chance at a game-winning FG, does Les Miles run it up the middle? No, he takes his freshman QB and throws a tough throw/route for the winning TD. Nick Saban is playing freshmen everywhere.

We are too tentative, too conservative, too afraid of making a mistake, and they are inevitable. And they happen. We can’t get a freaking handoff. My friends and I could execute a handoff. We have no swagger that I see from these other teams. There’s no question about the effort – which could be some reason for hope, maybe – but that’s about it.

That pretty much sums up this past Saturday...

That’s coaching, people. And for Tennessee to return to the level of being able to compete legitimately in today’s SEC, there’s going to have to be a change. Coach Fulmer has done more for this University than just about anybody else and deserves that credit. But it’s time for him to step down. I just hope when it does happen, that it goes without too much drama and the nonsense that’s happened at other schools (Rich Rodriguez comes to mind).

Unlike the ever-optimistic Lawvol, I have bailed on this season. I know I did foolishly last year, but I see no reason for a turnaround. None. At. All. Will I stop watching games? No, I’ll be at Auburn Saturday and in Neyland for Northern Illinois next weekend. I’m still a fan, but there’s something not right about not even overly caring that we got beat 30-6 on our own field a few hours after watching it happen.

It’s a sad, sad time for the Tennessee football program…

But let’s all remember to stick with the team through all this. It’s time like these that make the better days so much sweeter.

GO VOLS!!


Images Courtesy of: Doug Finger / Gainesville SunStreeter Lecka / Getty Images (Orlando Sentinel Picture #18)

It Was UAB…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Look, it was UAB – to me we could have beat them 77-3 and it wouldn’t have meant diddly squat. Well, we didn’t. It was more of what I expected: our defense would shut them down on the scoreboard and the offense would take about a half to get going. There’s no reason to lose sleep over beating a team 35-3. As they say, you’re only as good as your last game, and for us it’s now a win.

As an aside the BYU-UCLA massacre only proves that what happened two weeks ago in the Rose Bowl was a complete and total fluke. Did it still happen? Yes, and that score only makes us look worse. But it was a fluke, and we can all agree on that now, can’t we?

Back to the UAB game, I’m a glass half-full type, so I’ll point out some of the positive things from this game – or reasons logical stretches for hope that Florida won’t run us out of our own stadium. First and foremost, no one got hurt and some of the backups got some game experience, always a good thing for these type of games.

OK, Jonathan Crompton still wasn’t very good, but he was better. He went 19-for-31, and I thought the playcalling – though we still need to run the ball much much MUCH more (like 65-35) – was better in terms of making it easier for JC. Will screens to Lucas Taylor work against Florida? I have no idea.

Of his 12 incompletions, Luke Stocker dropped three and there were about three more. His first INT was simply a great play by the UAB defender (though Crompton probably shouldn’t have forced it). We saw slight improvement, but improvement nonetheless.

Our running backs are awesome. Foster, Hardesty, and Creer need to be fed the ball many, many times. Lawvol and I were talking after the game about how Clawson needs to find a way to get Foster and Hardesty on the field at the same time. The defense would have no clue what to do. If this offense has what you can call a “strength,” it’s pounding the rock. Let’s do that about 50 times against Florida, OK Dave?

Lucas Taylor and Gerald Jones had nice games. Luke Stocker is better than those passes he dropped – he’s just getting those out of the way before Florida. I still just think there are too many good athletes on this offense for it to be as bad as 2005. Hence, I’m hopeful

The only issues on defense I really saw were missed tackles. Once again, just getting them out of the way before Florida. It’s fixable. And if you miss tackles against Florida, what do you get? Well, last year…

The strength of this defense is easily the secondary. I’m all for playing five of those studs with Rico McCoy and Ellix Wilson at LB. One thing that was pointed out to me was the lack of pressure without blitzing. Wilson blitzed quite a bit, thus leaving the middle open. Hello, Percy Harvin on a quick slant. Still, I saw nothing that really discourages the notion of this defense not being pretty solid.


Anyways, stay tuned, because Lawvol will have his thoughts up here soon, and I’ll also be ripping into our sorry excuse for a student section (we’re talking major rant here). And for your enjoyment, here’s some pictures I took from before the game and my seat in Section D, Row 10…

Eric Berry (left) and Demetrice Morley were the last two Vols through the Vol Walk and they also happened to be the best-dressed. That’s just pure freshness right there from our stud safeties…

Lawvol goes to Gate 21, I went into Student Gate 4 Saturday

It has been 10 years since 1998, and Tee Martin was honored pregame, as each home game will honor players from that glorious run. Tee was also on the actual game ticket as well

The UAB mascot was just plain awesome - though I would NOT have wanted to be in that suit in that heat

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