Posts Tagged ‘Arian Foster’
Viagra For Sale, 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, is Viagra safe, having read his work for CBS Sports.com, Viagra maximum dosage, Fanhouse, and his book Dixieland Delight. Still, I remember thinking to myself “Man, purchase Viagra, that really stinks for Clay—all that work to write a book about a 5-7 season.” After all, Viagra no prescription, who wants to read about a team that loses, and loses a lot?
Clay Travis’ new book “On Rocky Top” is one of the best sports books I have read in a long time.
Obviously, Viagra price, “On Rocky Top” focuses on my beloved Vols, Cheap Viagra, which makes me naturally predisposed to read it, I suppose. It does not, however, Viagra without prescription, make me predisposed to actually like the book. In fact, Viagra canada, mexico, india, to date, I do not believe I have ever managed to finish a book written exclusively about the Vols—which is a bit ironic coming from a person who publishes a sports blog dedicated to the team—yet, it is the truth. In my experience most single team memoirs are either so objective that they read more like a surgical note from a neurologist, australia, uk, us, usa, are so “rah-rah” as a result of the writer being blinded by his or her passion for their team to the point that they refuse to acknowledge reality, Viagra pictures, lack any semblance of an understanding of the English language, or are so mind-numbingly focused on minutiae that reading them is like eating sawdust without butter. Sometimes they are all of the above.
Then there is “On Rocky Top”…
Clay Travis does not try to draft the authoritative history of one of the worst football seasons ever for my alma mater, he does not attempt to give the clichéd insider's look at what goes on behind closed doors at Tennessee, online Viagra without a prescription, he does not simply re-visit and re-hash the events of the 2008 football season for Tennessee. No, Order Viagra from mexican pharmacy, in “On Rocky Top” Clay Travis describes every season for every fan of every college football program, and he does it beautifully.
Tennessee is but the lens through which Travis explores not only the comings and goings of life in a big-time college football program, but more importantly takes an honest look at sports and fandom from a perspective that is, buy Viagra no prescription, at times, Viagra wiki, as poignant as it is personal. He explores a side of the world of sports so often relegated to the back of our minds and that small voice of reason drowned by the noise of a screaming crowd in a raucous stadium.
I want my team to win more than I want anything on earth right now—even though I know how irrational my desire is, how insignificant this game is in the grand scheme of life. All of us, we fans, taking Viagra, always say that we realize there are things more important than sports. Yet, Viagra without a prescription, even still, why do we feel the need to make this claim if we don’t, at some times, Viagra results, doubt whether this is actually true?
Deep down in all of our hearts, Where to buy Viagra, we’re all a bit ashamed, frightened even, by how much we care.
Most examinations of fandom tend to focus on the outward evidence of the passion that fills the heart of the fan. There are a bevy of books that show the all encompassing mania that some fans exhibit: children named after players their parents never met, Viagra street price, cars and houses bedecked in gaudy school colors, Viagra online cod, logos shaved onto heads and mascots tattooed on bodies, and so forth. Travis avoids these trite expressions of what it means to be a fan—short for “fanatic”—and looks more at the bonds that hold disparate and far-flung groups of individuals with little or nothing in common together as a “family” of fans. He takes a journey into his own experiences as a fan and as a writer granted access to the inner sanctum of college football.
In the process, Travis does, buy generic Viagra, in fact, Viagra over the counter, chronicle the exploits of the 2008 Vols, and chronicle them well. Yet he does so through the eyes of a fan, rather than from the dispassionate roost of the pressbox. In so doing, buy cheap Viagra no rx, he explores the reality that fans judge players and coaches—people they’ve never met—by a set of rules that is irrational, Is Viagra addictive, erratic, and wholly unfair. Travis takes you inside not only the Vols locker room but inside the lives of the players and coaches—humanizing them is ways that are uncommon in the world of “superstar” athletics and modern sports media.
In particular, he looks at the effects of fan anger and outrage on Tennessee center Josh McNeil, buying Viagra online over the counter, former Vol running back Arian Foster, Effects of Viagra, quarterback Jonathan Crompton, and former coach Phillip Fulmer, among others. Travis shows how morally unfair the actions of anonymous fans can be when launching faceless attacks. Talking with Josh McNeil, cheap Viagra no rx, Travis writes:
In the wake of games, After Viagra, fan anger now mixes with player frustration. Junior center Josh McNeil confesses, “I listen to the radio shows on my way home too. I listen to the fans. Sometimes I want to call in and talk with them. I want to say, purchase Viagra for sale, ‘Oh, Viagra dosage, yeah, well, you think I suck, ordering Viagra online. Well, Viagra class, why don’t you come tell me that to my face? Here’s my address, come meet me here and we’ll talk about it. Just you and me.’ I wouldn’t ever do it, but I want to. Sometimes I want to real bad."
Travis’ concludes that oftentimes fans bask in the comfortable anonymity of the stands—noting that no one ever says anything negative to the team on the Vol Walk when they are face-to-face, Viagra duration, saving those barbs for the internet and call-in shows.
Finally, Viagra pics, Travis takes a long look at the end of the Phillip Fulmer era in a way that, again, lifts the objective veil and shows that the players and coaches involved are real people—human beings—and not merely pawns on a chessboard. He chronicles the measured implosion of Fulmer’s final season, buy Viagra from mexico, the back-room conversations leading to his ouster, Viagra description, and Fulmer’s own post-hoc perspectives on his firing. Travis’ also details Mike Hamilton’s James Bond-esque “operation” to find the Vols new Head Coach Lane Kiffin. An excerpt of this is available on FanHouse.
Travis book is a joy to read and beautifully covers the gamut of the sports-fan emotional spectrum. His insights into college football and fans are sometimes laughably hilarious:
I don’t care how Tennessee wins. … If Jonathan Crompton gets under center, steps back from the line of scrimmage, Viagra no rx, removes his mouthpiece, Where can i find Viagra online, and subsequently shoots Auburn defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks with a poison blow dart, I’m all for it. Anything to win.
Arian Foster, seated on the bench, buy Viagra online cod, is approached by a UT fan. Viagra from mexico, … The fan, who is wearing orange from head to foot and appears to be in his thirties, dog-cusses Foster to his back. … Foster does not bat an eyelash, pretending not to notice the fan, and eventually a member of the Georgia security staff leads him away from the fence behind the bench. It’s come to this—Georgia security guards protecting Tennessee players from their own fans.
and sometimes moving:
My dad came to my house and sat next to me on the couch where I was feeding my 5-month-old son a bottle. … Finally, he turned to me and said, “You know, I read an article in the newspaper the other day about a dad’s funeral. The son said, ‘We never really talked unless it was about sports.’ That’s really sad, isn’t it?”
My dad put his hand on my shoulder. I continued to feed Fox. “Yes,” I said, “that really is.”
We were both silent for a long time. While Fox drank his bottle my dad smiled at him and occasionally made faces. Finally my dad spoke again.
“I’m not as optimistic about this year’s team as you are,” he said.
He reached out and grabbed Fox’s bare foot. “One day we’re going to get this little guy to a game too,” he said.
It occurred to me then that fathers and sons talk about a lot more than sports when we’re talking about sports. And maybe in the end that’s why most of us are sports fans.
Clay Travis paints a vivid picture of the game and team that I love and follow as a fan. In a broader sense—without pretension—he provides a wonderful image of what I like to describe as the "beautiful agony" that is college football.
In the end, Clay Travis’ “On Rocky Top” is a truly enjoyable book, one which fans of SEC and college football—and definitely all Tennessee fans—should read.
Trust me, you will enjoy the ride.
Image(s) Courtesy of: Clay Nation
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This Week's Roundtable is hosted by:
Buy Imitrex Without Prescription, 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:
1) Which newcomer do you expect to play the most total snaps for the Vols this fall?
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.
Lawvol: (Long thoughtful pause followed by a longer, yet less thoughtful, sucking sound…)
2) Assuming we all believe Gerald Jones is going to lead the team in receptions again this season, who will finish second?
HSH: I somewhat addressed Tennessee's receivers in the previous question, and I'll go with who I said was the second receiver there: Brandon Warren. As I said, from last Thursday and last Saturday, my reaction to see #1 running routes and catching passes was one of amazement. In other words, I was surprised how he was a "tight end" last year and how he caught maybe 10 passes last year. He easily passes the eye test as a wide receiver.
One final thought: Jones led UT with 30 catches last year and Lucas Taylor led the Vols in yards. Taylor caught 26 passes. Who was third? Arian Foster with 19. Josh Briscoe and Austin Rogers were the next wide receivers, with both catching 14. All that is to say again how ineffective the quarterbacks were last year. Hopefully the second and third leading receivers this year have more catches—which you think has to happen, right?
Lawvol: Objection! Leading, calls for speculation, and assumes facts not in evidence… (sorry, it's just a habit)
3) If Tim Tebow and Eric Berry are the two best players in the SEC, who's third?
HSH: Give me Brandon Spikes, Florida's middle linebacker, who turned down a boatload of money from an NFL team to stay and try to win another national championship (vomit).
I've seen Terrance Cody and Rolando McClain, but I'll take Spikes, the leader and best player on the league's top defense. Oh, and also this amusing celebration of a pick-six against LSU last year, and his best Eric Berry impression.
Honorable mention: Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead, Cody and McClain on the Alabama defense, Georgia LB Rennie Curran (SEC's leading returner tackler), running back Charles Scott from LSU, the other 11 players on Florida's defense and a trio of wide receivers: Julio Jones (Alabama), A.J. Green (UGA) and Brandon LaFell (LSU).
Lawvol: (Note the theme song to "the Smurfs" playing in the background…)
4) Generally speaking, which opposing SEC fanbase is your favorite to interact with, Imitrex trusted pharmacy reviews. No prescription Imitrex online, And which is your least favorite?
HSH: I'll start with the least favorite, and that's Georgia. I went to Athens for the 51-33 beatdown as a college freshman in 2006 and I got treated worse there than I did in trips to more vaunted venues in Gainesville (2007) and Tuscaloosa (2005 and 2007).
I got incessantly and constantly barked at, generic Imitrex, Imitrex use, which is fine but extremely annoying. But even more so, my friends and I got cursed at because we had orange on. They had no respect for me. I had sorority girls looking great in red and black dresses dropping the F-bomb at me completely unprovoked. The typical, Imitrex coupon, Buy no prescription Imitrex online, expected stuff—"Tennessee sucks," "Fulmer sucks, Imitrex natural, Imitrex for sale, " "nothing sucks like a Big Orange," the Gator Chomp, where can i buy Imitrex online, Imitrex pharmacy, Roll Tide, War Eagle, online buying Imitrex, Imitrex from canadian pharmacy, Pig Sooie, etc., herbal Imitrex, Buy Imitrex without prescription, etc.—doesn't bother me a bit. But profanity?
I'm not saying I can't handle it, but c'mon. If I'm doing some chatting too, buy Imitrex without a prescription, Real brand Imitrex online, that's one thing. I don't get belligerent at visitors in Knoxville unless they provoke me—and even then, I'm not yelling at them to “eff” their school or “eff” themselves. Some common courtesy would be nice.
Though I have a higher disdain for Florida and Alabama because they're our biggest rivals, Imitrex duration, Buy Imitrex online cod, Georgia will always be #3 on that list because of that trip to Athens.
As for the favorite, I would have to say Auburn, Imitrex maximum dosage, Imitrex class, because as I've said repeatedly I have friends there and I can't find any reason to really dislike them. I haven't been to Baton Rouge (or Columbia or Fayetteville - been everywhere else), but I haven't had any issues with LSU fans when they've come to Knoxville and Atlanta.
But overall, online Imitrex without a prescription, Purchase Imitrex online, I don't know if I have a "favorite"—it's more of a feeling of indifference than a preference one way or another.
Lawvol: This one I can actually answer, well, where to buy Imitrex, Purchase Imitrex for sale, sort of. I have pretty much addressed this in the past on more than one occasion. I was probably clearest in my article “The State of Hate: Football Rivalries at Tennessee,” which continues to be true for me today.
The Rest of the Roundtable:
Having wasted your time on our largely meaningless and insignificant thoughts for this week, order Imitrex from mexican pharmacy, Imitrex overnight, go check out what the other roundtablers (who actually know what they are talking about) have to say (in no particular order):
- Rocky Top Talk
- 3rd Saturday in Blogtober
- MoonDog Sports
- Vol Junkies
- Pigskin Pathos
- Bleeding Orange
- Loser With Socks
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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.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Congrats to Wyoming, but there is no way they should beat any Tennessee team"][/caption]
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.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="It is going to be nice to finally win something..."][/caption]
Oh don't worry, it's coming...
Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / GVX • Amy Smotherman-Burgess / GVX
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:[caption id="" align="alignright" width="176" caption="Stephens looked capable in his first start."][/caption]
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…
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 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…
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.
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 --9:53amThere'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...
Images Courtesy of: Go Vols Xtra / Saul Young
Post-Auburn Thoughts: Coming Upon the Unknown[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="The view from Section 37, Row 62 of Jordan-Hare Stadium"][/caption]
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.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="325" caption="The offensive struggles for Tennessee are no fault of the dangerous Jones"][/caption]
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! [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Give Hardesty and Creer more touches PLEASE"][/caption]
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.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="No, Adam Myers-White, there is nothing more you and the Tennessee defense could have done for a W..."][/caption]
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)
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.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Obviously we should have punted it to Section P, but apparently everybody BUT our coach (or our punter) already new that..."][/caption]
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...[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Defenses we still play: Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and yes, even Kentucky...UH OH"][/caption]
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.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="325" caption="That pretty much sums up this past Saturday..."][/caption]
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.
Images Courtesy of: Doug Finger / Gainesville Sun • Streeter Lecka / Getty Images (Orlando Sentinel Picture #18)
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...[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Does Eric Berry play football better...or does he dress better? Fresh..."][/caption] [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="221" caption="Berry and Demetrice Morley were the last two Vols through - saving the best-dressed for last, obviously"][/caption]
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...[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lawvol goes to Gate 21, I went into Student Gate 4 Saturday"][/caption] [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="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"][/caption] [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The UAB mascot was just plain awesome - though I would NOT have wanted to be in that suit in that heat"][/caption]