Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Lincoln’

Quick Postgame Thoughts: Ohio 23 • Tennessee 34

26 September 2009 1 2 3 4 T
Ohio Bobcats 14 3 3 3 23
Tennessee Volunteers 14 10 7 3 34
» Final «
Neyland Stadium   •  Knoxville | Stats | Quotes
| Notes | Recap

It wasn’t necessarily pretty, and it wasn’t necessarily easy, but the Tennessee Volunteers managed to defeat the Ohio Bobcats 34 to 23.  There were good things, less good things, and downright lousy things.  On the whole, however, this game marked the continuation of Tennessee’s long road of slow and steady progress back toward the top.

It was a win, and to each of the Vols and the coaching staff, I can only say one thing: mission accomplished (for this week, at least)…

The bad news is that Nick Reveiz is likely out for the rest of the season which will leave the Vols without a much needed leader and even thinner at linebacker.  That one may hurt for quite a while.

The defense did not exactly have its best night tonight, but that happens every now and then.  Quarterback Jonathan Crompton, however, seemed to feel a little more confident this week and — on the whole — looked pretty decent.  That said, the wide receivers did not give Crompton much help as they were unable to break the Ohio coverage schemes to get open.  Still, a decent night passing.

My gut tells me that — though no one on the team will admit it — there was probably a bit of an emotional and physical let down after the game against the Florida Gators last week which left the men in orange feeling a little deflated coming into today’s game.  It is really tough to maintain that level of intensity perpetually.  So long as it does not become oa habit, I’m pretty much okay with that happening occasionally.

The other area of concern that stuck out like a sore thumb tonight was the break down of special teams coverage.  While Daniel Lincoln notched a personal best nailing a 49-yard field goal, the kick coverage unit allowed a touchdown runback which simply never should have happened.

Still, it is a win.

Beats the hell out of a loss…

– So it goes …Email lawvol No McAlisters

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 1 – the “Welcome Back” Edition

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by: MoonDog Sports.com

Once more unto the breach, dear friend…

This week marks the return of the Big Orange Roundtable and is hosted by MoonDog over at MoonDog Sports.com.

Given the fact that I have been tied up with re-modeling and am just generally incompetent, HSH and I have decided to both jump in on the Roundtable and offer our points as a team.  In the event we disagree, I’m wrong…

Here are our thoughts for the week:

Week 1

1)  In my mind, this season’s success—or failure—centers around one man, Jonathan Crompton.  What is your opinion of Crompton’s ability to run Lane Kiffin‘s pro style offense?  Can Crompton overcome his miserable 2008 season and lead the Vols to a winning record?

HSH: Crompton absolutely cannot be much worse, right?  A common theme in the answers you’re likely going to see here will say something along the lines of Crompton’s main responsibility of managing the game—and doing quite a bit of handing the rock off.  You would think that in Lane Kiffin’s offense he won’t be throwing the ball too much, assuming the Vols are able to run the ball well.  Obviously the running game can help make Crompton’s job easier, although the WR injuries this week aren’t helping his Heisman hopes.

The optimist in me says that most of Crompton’s issues last season were due to the overall overwhelming ineptitude of Dave Clawson‘s offense.  However, the Auburn debacle, which I placed almost direct blame on Crompton, has me hesitant.  Tennessee wasn’t too far away from being at worst 8-4 last year , so even marginal improvement by #8 should get the Vols above 6 wins.  I’m willing to give him another chance, but hopefully for everyone’s sake he doesn’t throw a pick or botch a handoff in the first series at Western Kentucky come September 5…

Lawvol: It’s a funny thing.  Last year—based solely upon his performance while filling in for the injured Eric Ainge in 2006—I was expecting great things from Crompton.  In fact, I was actually convinced that the Crompton would wow the Vol faithful with a new look as a mobile quarterback who is not afraid to make contact with defenders.  At one point last year I actually predicted that, after an 8 or 9 win season in 2008, the Vols would potentially contend for a national championship in 2009 behind Crompton and the much vaunted Clawfense.

This proves two things.  First, it shows that rising to the occasion in a moment of need—which I think Crompton did admirably while standing in for Ainge—is not the same thing as being a starter.  The second thing it proves is that I am a moron.

All that said, I too agree that Crompton’s biggest goal is to just play cleanly.  In 2008, there were times when it seemed likely that he might trip over the yardlines or deliver a handoff to a blitzing linebacker.  Personally, I think that much of this owed to a fundamental lack of understanding of the Clawfense by the offense as a whole—which pretty much just peed down its leg for the entirety of the 2008 season.  This is not to say that Dave Clawson was not a good coach or that the Clawfense could not work, it simply did not work in 2008 for the Vols.

Not to be overly critical, but Crompton does not (or at least has never shown) that he has the mental game of Eric Ainge or any of the other quarterbacks that preceded him in Orange.  Crompton likes to play loose and makes plays based purely upon athletic ability and less upon great decision-making ability.  As he made clear when filling in for Ainge (famously dropping his head and planting a “T” in the chest of an LSU defender), Crompton is an instinct guy.  I don’t think he cares much for his mind getting in the way of him playing football.  Perhaps that is why he often seemed to have the deer in the headlights look when trying to work through the permutations of the offense last year on the field.  As a result he made bad decisions, held the ball for what seemed like ten minutes in the pocket, and generally failed to meet expectations.  I just do not believe that he “got it.”  Thus, I suppose the 2008 season was the proverbial “Perfect Storm” that was destined for disaster from an offensive perspective.  On one hand there was an offense inspired by the theories of Niels Bohr and Stephen Hawking and on the other a quarterback who is not exactly known for his mental toughness.

If Kiffin and Jim Cheney can keep it simple, allowing Crompton to simply play, I continue to believe that he has the ability to be a decent quarterback.  I actually think he has the ability to be a competent passer (that is if there are any receivers left for him to throw to), so long as the system is simple.  For Crompton, I think it is all about just letting him play.  Hopefully that is what they will let him do.

Read the rest of this entry

Well, now we have some sort of idea of what to expect…

The 2009 Orange and White game has come and gone and now we have a little bit of an idea of what we should expect from the Tennessee Volunteers this fall.  It was less than exciting—as most scrimmages are—but showed a brief glimpse of the 2009 Vols and what is on the horizon for Tennessee fans and haters alike.

On the whole, it looked pretty good…

I was unable to attend the game in person, but got a chance to catch some of the replay on SportSouth last night.  If you missed it, GVX now has a play-by-lay recap posted (HT: RTT).  On the whole there were some nice things shown, as well as some areas that need a little improvement.

Here are my thoughts in semi-stream of consciousness mode:

First, the running game looks strong.  Montario Hardesty, Toney Williams, and Taurean Poole all looked solid running behind the offensive line.  The run game was quick and crisp and seemed to have far more of a “north-south” orientation than it has in years past.  The addition of incoming freshmen Bryce Brown and David Oku this fall should only improve this squad.  Runningbacks coach Eddie Gran will have a very deep pool of talent with which to work, which is nice for a change.  At this point, it seems likely that Tennessee’s primary offensive attack will come on the ground.  After the 2008 campaign, I’m just glad that there is a primary offensive attack.

Second, the secondary—led by All-world Eric Berry at safety—appeared ready to be Tennessee’s lead squad of playmakers.  While I realize that this was little more than a spring scrimmage, it seems possible that the Vols secondary this fall could be one of the best ever to wear the orange.  That said, it seemed that the backs were playing a little soft either due to the scrimmage environment or due to their being in the process of learning the Full Monte’s new system.

Third, the offensive line looked good at run blocking, but less so when it came time for the pass.  It would be nice to see improvement on pass blocking since our quarterback play is “average” at best at the moment.  The offensive line must find ways to give the quarterbacks a little time to throw, lest the Vols become a one-directional run-only offense.  Still, on the whole, it appears that there is the making of a strong unit.

Fourth, the defensive line—especially when paired with the strength of the secondary—looks tough.  This line has clearly bought-in to a more aggressive style of play.  This is refreshing, and could be extremely impressive if the linemen continue to work on making smart decisions when it comes to attacking.  Still, at this point the d-line—especially Chris Walker and Montori Hughes—looks solid.

Fifth, the receiving corps, seemed more than capable to get open, make the catch, and add yards after the fact.  Gerald Jones and Quintin Hancock looked particularly solid.  The addition of Denarius Moore and Brandon Warren as third and fourth options further bolster this group.  At this early point, Jones appears to be the top receiver, but fortunately there is more than one target.

Sixth, the quarterbacks continue to look fairly erratic.  This does not really surprise me (or anyone else for that matter, I imagine) after the disastrous quarterback play seen in 2008.  It appears that Jonathan Crompton is the likely starter, but that might change considering that Nick Stephens was plagued by wrist problems throughout the spring.  The addition of 23 year-old quarterback Mike Rozier, who has been playing pitcher in the Boston Red Sox for the past several years, might change that dynamic a bit, but considering he will be coming in green (with four years of eligibility), it seems unlikely that he will immediately rocket to the top.  Stranger things, however, have happened.  One way or the other, it seems apparent that the pass game will be as simple and as error-free as possible.  “Keep it simple, keep it clean” seems to be the mantra.  If the quarterbacks can accomplish this, then they might just do okay.

Finally, the special teams, are a bit of a question in my mind.  Punter Chad Cunningham was more than capable, but kicker Daniel Lincoln continued his slide by missing a makeable field goal.  This team is likely to need field goals a fair amount this fall, thus this is quite concerning.  Hopefully, Lincoln will find his range from 2007 again and return to form.  If not, his inconsistency could spell trouble for the Vols in tight games.

In the end, this team is a work in progress.  They are unlikely to be world-beaters this fall, but do appear to be in position to lay a solid foundation on which to build for the future.  Furthermore, as they become more and more familiar with Lane Kiffin’s new system things should become more automatic and more graceful.  More importantly, both the players and the coaches looked as if they were actually enjoying themselves.  As an outsider, it seemed that the team as a whole likes the course that the “Kiffin Chimera” has set.

On the whole, I am encouraged by what I saw and how the Vols performed.  Will this team win the SEC East in 2009?  Not likely, but possible.  Will they finish at the bottom?  Doubtful.  The real question is how they will do in tight games.  If they fold, then the Vols can expect at least three or four losses.  If they rise to the occasion … well … they might just surprise a few people.

Either way, I am already looking forward to the 5 September kickoff…

– So it goes …Email lawvol No McAlisters


Tennessee vs. UCLA — Quick Postgame Thoughts

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Well, that is why they play them…

A heavily favored Tennessee squad walked into the Rose Bowl, and will be limping home trying to figure out what went wrong — and make no mistake, something went terribly wrong.

On the whole, it was a tale of two halves — the Vols owned the first-half, the Bruins the second.  Well, at least the Vols should have owned the first-half.  After grabbing 4 first-half interceptions, the Vols had a paltry 14 points at the end of the first half.

In the end, however, UCLA rallied the troops and fought down the stretch and managed to take the lead with only seconds left in the game.  The anemic Tennessee offense seemed down for the count, but Jonathan Crompton managed the team as well as he had all night, leading the Orange down the field for a Daniel Lincoln field goal to tie the game at 24 with 5 seconds on the clock.

Many in Big Orange Country felt they had just dodged a bullet — given Tennessee’s record in overtime games.  They were even more buoyed up with hope after the Tennessee defense — which had flailed about unsuccessfully in the fourth-quarter — allowed no yards in overtime.

But that is why they play them…

After gaining a net of 8 yards, Daniel Lincoln came on to attempt a 34-yard field goal attempt to send the game into a second overtime.  The kick sailed wide left, and with it went the Vols hopes of coming out strong to start the season.

Final Score:  UCLA 27  Tennessee 24

Obviously, once I’ve had a little time to think about the game, I am sure I’ll have more thoughts for everyone out there to ignore.  That said, here are my initial thoughts.

Defense

Until the fourth-quarter, I would have given the defense excellent marks.  They played with more aggressive tenacity than I have seen any Tennessee team play with in the first game of the season in at least a decade.  They looked well prepared and well coached — until late in the game I’d have given them an “A” for the game.

Four interceptions is always a nice statistic, but so was the 2 first downs that UCLA managed in the first-half.  The Vols were hard-hitting and focused.

Once UCLA managed to find its legs in the fourth-quarter, however, they started running roughshod over the Tennessee defense, with a workmanlike drive using short screen passes and a quick tempo.  At many times, the Vol defense seemed poorly schemed late in the game, rushing 4 and 5 on each play rather than trying to stop the screens.  That said, the biggest problem it appeared they were dealing with was fatigue due to the fact they had been on the field far longer than they should have been in the fourth.

Thus, I am not going to mark the squad down too much (since it was the first game and due to the offensive woes) — the fact is that they gave a great effort.  The defense showed that they have what it takes to be a really excellent squad this year — potentially one of the best in the SEC — once they get a chance to gel and play together a little more.

In the end, I’m giving them a C+ / B-.

Offense

I’m not even going to try to breakdown all of the problems that the Vols had on offense…

I realize that Tennessee has a new quarterback and a new offensive scheme.  I expected there to be some growing pains.  I did not expect the Vols to rely upon their defense to win games — by scoring all the points.

It was bad, it was very bad…

I am not ready to decide where I think the problem lies, but the Vols showed a real lack of ability to move the ball consistently.  Crompton had a horrible time throwing the ball when under pressure — to the point of being completely ineffective.  Both Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty showed flashes of brilliance at times in the running game, but at other times were unable to make real gains.

At this early point after the game, all I can say is that there is much work to be done on offense.

At this point, I’m giving the offense a D.

Special Teams

Daniel Lincoln missed three field goal attempts, but only one of which he really should have hit — unfortunately, that one was the one which really mattered.  The punt unit also gave up a block, which led to an immediate touchdown.  The kick return unit, however, showed some real fire and the potential for some big plays down the stretch.

This unit needs to work on some things, but they appear to, at least, be on the right track.

For now, I’m giving them a C-.

Final Thoughts

There is so much more to discuss and think about after this game — which is always the case with a loss.  I am not going to try to do it tonight.

I will however, say one thing:

This is only the first game of the season — don’t give up on the Vols yet.  Despite the problems they had tonight, they never gave up.  They have earned the chance to redeem themselves…

I, along with Home Sweet Home, will have more on this game in the coming days, but in the meantime — though I am disappointed — all I can say is Go Vols!

More tomorrow…

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


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