Posts Tagged ‘Fans’

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, 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.

Read the rest of this entry

Speaking of Hockey…

Since I’ve been so bad at posting lately—largely due to the lack of things to write about—I thought I’d pass along this little gem I found over at the FAIL Blog:

How ... thoughtful

Nice timing, mister hockey-fan-who-is-obviously-not-watching-the-game-but-wasting-time-on-juvenile-humor guy, you are a WINN-ARH!

In other news, the Carolina Hurricanes gave the New Jersey Devils the back of their hand, by scoring two (which in hockey is a veritable scoring orgy) goals in the last 1:21 of Game Seven of the First Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Say Goodnight, Gracie...

To all you fans of the Boston Bruins, the Hurricanes are coming.  Their symbol is a storm that wreaks havoc and destruction.  Their leader (Rod Brind’Amour) is a near-40 year-old gamer who has had his nose broken 143,601 times and eats hand grenades for breakfast.  Their mascot is a pig on ice skates.

All you have is a “Bruin” (whatever that is).  You have been warned.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a site dedicated primarily to the Tennessee Volunteers and the SEC, but I gotta support my local team … and their pig.  Besides, what else is there to watch, baseball?

But seriously, this “off-season” thing is a killer…

– So it goes …Email lawvol No McAlisters

Image(s) Courtesy of:   the FAIL Blog •  Reuters / Daylife •   Hockey Blog in Canada ||  Statement on Fair Use

Ugly, Yet Effective…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Vols Outlast Marquette

Vols 80, Marquette 68

At least it wasn’t another loss.

It was another start, but fortunately Tennessee was able to fight their way back to a halftime tie Tuesday night in Nashville. As I was sitting watching a halftime show featuring two contestants who hit a combined two three-pointers in 35 seconds (no joke, one guy did not move his feet the entire time, not even jumping), I was expecting a battle in the second half. Honestly, I was excited for the promising outlook of a quality basketball game.

A small band of Marquette students made the trip and perched themselves right behind Section 120. Notice the guy on the left who at first glance appears to be painted completely gold and wearing just a Speedo (I was told it was actually a leotard)...

Well, then the men in striped shirts came out of the tunnel…

Seriously, great win for Tennessee and all, but I drove three hours in a cloudy, misty fog to watch Tennessee and Marquette play basketball, not for the referees to take over the show and call 54 fouls. If this doesn’t count as a “free-throw shooting contest” – 71 combined freebies – then I don’t know what is. And it wasn’t one-sided really or anything like that. It was just atrocious.

OK, enough of that rant. Amidst all the fouling, the game was entertaining to watch. The large Tennessee crowd was into it, and Marquette probably definitely had more fans in the Sommet Center than did Vanderbilt. Marquette is located in Milwaukee; Vandy is five minutes down the road. Fortunately for me, I didn’t get to the arena until the last four minutes of the South Florida-Vanderbilt snooze-fest the preceded the Vols-Eagles game. Even in those four minutes, I might as well been watching a couple D-2 schools…

OK, enough fun at Vanderbilt’s expense (oh yeah, our worst football team ever beat their first bowl team in 25 years…). As Ghost over at 3SIB so eloquently put it, this Tennessee team is frustrating to watch at times. For example, the three or four turnovers on alley-oop attempts that are clearly not there. Missed open and contested threes, which we fans aren’t used to (late first half comes to mind, when Maze had a WIDE-OPEN look from the wing in transition…and missed it). Failure to switch on some pick-and-rolls, leaving open looks at three for the opponent. Heck, even when Scotty Hopson chased down a loose ball right under the basket – and proceeded to not properly secure it and score two easy points – you can’t help but not be a little flustered.

All that said, this team fought through it – the fouls, the poor outside shooting, the stifling Marquette defense on Tyler Smith, the night Wes Matthews had, the late runs Marquette made, the last of which was silenced by this unlikely source…

After feeble and failed attempts at catching something YouTubeable and postable, Josh Tabb makes my night and essentially seals the win over Marquette. So, from all of us here at Gate 21 me, thank you, Josh Tabb.

YouTube Preview Image

And also a huge, HUGE thanks to Wayne Chism. Smilin’ Wayne showed up to the tune of 27 points, 11 board, 8-of-11 from the field and the line, and a pair of huge second half threes. After Marquette had made a mini-run to take a 48-46 lead, Chism scored 15 of Tennessee’s next 19 points, to forge the Vols to a 65-58 lead.

Tyler knocking down a pair of free throws from the Dominic James technical

Actually, you could argue that the Dominic James technical foul more or less turned the tide, as Tennessee took a six-point lead thanks to the pairs of free throws converted by Tyler Smith and Chism. After Lazar Hayward hit the three that Tabb answered, Marquette did not score.

As for the judging of Tennessee’s play, the defense was better, if only statistically. Yes, Marquette got too many open looks, a few of which Tennessee was fortunate to have not go down, but the Eagles made 8 threes and only 10 twos, and shot under 40% for the game, and in each half. It may have been a little iffy at times, but there were improvements in that area.

Three-point shooting is going to be an issue all year. Honestly, Renaldo Woolridge might be the most consistent guy in that aspect. He’s certainly not afraid of shooting. We’ve seen Cam Tatum go off. Still awaiting Scotty Hopson to have a “breakout” game with his beautiful, rainbow, nearly-hitting-the-center-hung-scoreboard it’s-got-so-much-arc J. It was good to see Tabb, the defensive stopper (kudos to him on guarding James most of the night), hit a big three in a tough spot.

Offensively, the Vols had no answer to Marquette’s trapping 1-3-1 zone until they started to attack it with the dribble. I think having J.P. Prince, who’s value as an experienced wing player and defender should no longer be underestimated, likely would have helped in that regard. Bobby Maze still isn’t quite there yet, but his play Tuesday was better than Saturday.

Yes, the JumboTron was high-quality, but showed NO replays all night, though I am not totally sure why...

But finally, back to Wayne. He has the upside, he just now needs to put solid performances together. And I wish people would quit groaning everytime he lines up a three. Like it or not, it’s part of the offense, people. He hits one of his four or five attempts each game, which is about what the other guys are doing anyways. That said, I think he needs to utilize his post game more, and look to earn trips to line, because he’s obviously worked on his free-throw stroke.

The Vols now have two home games to close out 2008, against Belmont Saturday afternoon and Louisiana-Lafayette the 29th. Then of course is the 2009-opening trip out to Lawrence to play Kansas January 3rd. I would say that’s the next test, but let’s not sleep on those Bruins. Just in the last week, Cleveland State won at Syracuse, Texas struggled with two in-state schools and Memphis beat Arkansas-Little Rock by all of 8 points. Let’s hope the young Vols can build off this W…

Vols getting pumped up before the game

It Can Get Worse…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Still Six Games Left…

First, let me say that this post won’t be the most positive of posts. Not that I’m a Debbie Downer or anything like that, it’s just that it’s the nature of my thoughts of Tennessee football right now, and it’s a general feeling throughout the fanbase more than likely.

But to prove that I do have plenty of positive-ness in me, I’ll post Eric Berry‘s awesomeness from the Georgia game, that still make me a little happy despite the rough year. His pick and near 100+ yard TD return – how Matt Stafford tackles him I’ll never know – and the crushing hit on that punk Knowshon Moreno. Knowshon sure didn’t pop up after that run like he normally does…

YouTube Preview Image

About that UGA game, my positive and negative selves were at war during the waning moments of Saturday’s loss. On the positive side, Nick Stephens played pretty well and the Vols weren’t completely embarrassed as I had feared, losing by just 12 points (indication of how sad things have gotten). However – and this was intensified when I saw the box score – my negative self pointed out how fortunate Tennessee was to even be that close.

You’ve seen the stats by now. Giving up nearly 500 yards on offense. Letting Stafford set his career passing yardage record. Letting Moreno go over 100 yards. The two most glaring, however, to me are the ONE rushing yard and the two-to-one ratio in TOP. When you don’t have the ball, you can’t score. Obviously. The Vols are just plain horrible on third downs on both sides of the ball. I learned yesterday (via the Sports Animal) that Tennessee’s defense has stopped opponents exactly once out of 14 times on third-and-short (less than two).

This drive, capped by the TD catch by Massaquoi, killed any momentum Tennessee had going into halftime

I would argue how competitive the Vols were Saturday. I won’t question the effort because it was there and Tennessee was in the game late in the third quarter, but it looked much less worse than it really was – and that’s the sad truth. Sadder still, our two SEC East rivals have seemingly disposed of the once-mighty Vols in a seemingly ho-hum manner on their ways to bigger and better seasons. The UGA fans didn’t even seem overly thrilled to be avenging two years of getting blown away. If that’s not an indication that change is necessary, I don’t know what is…

Now, Tennessee is in total salvage mode. When you’re 2-4 and your offense is hard to watch it’s so pathetic, you think it can’t get much worse, right? Looking at the schedule a couple months ago, the assumption was that the hardest part is over and done with. Now, and as much as it kills me to admit this and I’ll probably get blasted for this, going winless in the SEC isn’t out of the realm of possibility here. Lawvol mentioned it yesterday, that 3-9 isn’t out of the equation.

The best news is that outside of Alabama, the remainder of Tennessee’s opponents are nearly as offensively-changed as the Vols are, which means, if nothing else, that those of us going down with this ship are going to witness some ugly football games.

The total offense ranks for each of the last six Tennessee opponents: Mississippi State is 103rd, Alabama is 52nd, South Carolina is 74th, turnover-friendly (try 27 of them) Wyoming is 116th, Vanderbilt is 117th, and Kentucky is 96th.

Am I saying our defense will dominate? Nope. I’m saying that if pain is still apart of you’re being a Tennessee fan – and no matter how much you’ve told yourself you’re “apathetic” and “don’t care,” there’s still ZERo fun in watching Tennessee lose – then the potential for more of it these next three months.

Is Tennessee next?

Mississippi State (HT to Curveball For Jesus for the pic), an assumed win for me even this time last week, is a toss-up. The Bulldogs have played LSU at LSU tough and beaten Vanderbilt their last two games. They have a stout defense that will frustrate our awful offense. The yearly wins over Vandy and UK are the same way – not givens. Both of those would be much worse than losing even to Mississippi State. As bad as we are, I would at least hope beating these three teams wouldn’t be too impossible, but it’s not what it used to be.

As much as I’ve hated on South Carolina here recently, the Chickens are playing well, despite an ever-changing QB situation. How does Tennessee score on Carolina in Columbia? I have no idea. All Vol fans hate losing to Steve Spurrier.

All of these pale in comparison with what may occur in Neyland Stadium next Saturday when Alabama visits. The Tide – with a win over Ole Miss at home this week and a Texas loss at home to Missouri – could come in with a #1 ranking. I’m probably going to have nightmares about the potential result next week. The Tide ran over Clemson absolutely pushed Georgia around in their meeting – and Georgia just ran another toss sweep for six yards on Tennessee…

With no running game and iffy pass protection, Nick Stephens has actually played pretty well

The point is, as bad as the first month-and-a-half have been for us Tennessee fans, it could still get much much worse. It always does before it gets better. This seems terribly obvious, doesn’t it? For me at least, I’m bracing for a even rougher final month-and-a-half.

Even any win outside of Alabama – ruining their dream season would be wonderful – and perhaps South Carolina wouldn’t even be that much to get fired up about. So now the question for us fans arises, what’s the point?

I’ll be at the home games and I might even make the trip to Columbia. I’ve said it plenty and I’ll say it again, if this ship is going down, I’m gonna be there with it. It’s part of being a true fan. Some will even pull secretly for Tennessee to lose so a change can be made. That’s just awful. It’s also foolish to expect a Clemson to happen, as if any change is gonna happen it won’t happen until after the season.

I just hope Tennessee makes it to a bowl. The players deserve as much for their work. For that to happen, there will absolutely have to be improvement, and I don’t even know if that’s possible – I don’t have much faith left (if any at all) in the coaching staff. I can only hope it is…

Even at 2-4 with nothing more to play for than pride and the avoiding of embarrassment…GO VOLS!

Images Courtesy of: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images (Daylife)Tami Chappell / Reuters Pictures (Daylife)
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