Posts Tagged ‘Gerald Jones’

Giving Your All, the Rough and Tumble Way

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

It’s been a bumpy couple of weeks for the Tennessee Volunteers and their fans, on that there is little room for debate.

First, the Vols lost to Florida in a “moral victory” which amounts to losing gallantly.  The Vols then went on to beat a scrappy Ohio Bobcats team in less than runaway style, but as I said at the time: “a win is a win.”  Then, this past weekend, the men in orange were bested by the Auburn Tigers and Gus Malzahn’s semi-deranged (but highly effective) form of offense.  Finally, Lane Kiffin gave Brandon Warren his walking papers as a result of what Kiffin described as “conduct detrimental to our team.”

For my part, I have had little to offer on these issues due to my ridiculously overloaded schedule.  Trust me when I say that it was not for lack of desire or lack of observations that I have been so quiet.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) I now have a little time to pontificate, so here we go…

Auburn and “Johnnie Cochran” Offense

Gus Malzahn is either a genius or a madman depending on whether you are a fan of the Tigers or are their opponent.  His offensive sets are as entropy-filled and outlandish as they are effective.  One of the keys to its function is to make an opposing defense deal with the constant distraction of the seemingly endless arsenal of quasi-trick plays that it includes.  This bevy of distractions vying for the attention of opposing defenses, reminds me of pretty much every argument ever made to a jury by Johnnie Cochranfocusing on the distraction rather than the fact.

Still, there is a lot of fact to Malzahn’s ability to mask his plays and to run unconventional sets regularly and successfully.  I personally cannot remember seeing a game which featured as many reverses and double-reverses as the Tennessee — Auburn contest.  I know that I have never seen a true pooch punt (seemingly taken right out of General Neyland’s own playbook from the 1930s) in person.  To Malzahn’s credit, he has taken a lackluster unit that barely produced anything other than narcolepsy in 2008 and transformed them into a machine which scores tons of points and gives defenses fits.

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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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Back from Vacation, Vols Start Preseason Camp

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

In exactly one month and one day Tennessee will open up the 2009 season here in Knoxville against Western Kentucky. And if you weren’t ready for the season already, you’d better start getting ready, as the Vols open up the preseason camp today.

After spending the last part of last week down in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I’m ready for September 5th to get here. It’s going to be my last season of UT football as a UT student, and I’m ready to get last season out of my mind completely (and to figure out how the new student ticket system is/is not going to work). The last time I walked out of Neyland Stadium? The Wyoming game. You see my point…

But while I was down on vacation, three things stoked my anticipation not only from September through November (and hopefully as close to January as possible), but for this coming four weeks of practices. Those three things and my preseason practice thoughts after the jump.

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2009 Vols Football Roster

The 2009 Vols Football Squad

All data and information courtesy of UT Sports.com
Navigation: Coaching StaffAssistant Coaches2009 Alphabetical RosterThe TennesseeumReturn to Top

football bullet Coaching Staff

Name Title
Lane Kiffin Head Coach
Ed Orgeron Assistant. Head Coach • Recruiting Coordinator • Defensive Line Coach
Monte Kiffin Defensive Coordinator
Jim Chaney Offensive Coordinator • Tight Ends

football bullet Assistant Coaches

Name Title Name Title
James Cregg Offensive Line Willie Mack Garza Defensive Backs
Eddie Gran Running Backs • Special Teams David Reaves Quarterbacks
Lance Thompson Linebackers Frank Wilson Wide Receivers

football bullet 2009 Alphabetical Roster

No.
Name
Pos.
Ht.
Wt.
Yr.
Exp.
Hometown (Prev School)
36
Anthony Anderson
DB
6-1
179
So.
Sq.
Knoxville (Austin-East)
60
Carson Anderson
C
6-2
267
Fr.
RS
Florence, Ala. (Florence)
47
Jerod Askew
LB
6-1
230
Fr.
HS
Chesapeake, Va. (Oscar Smith HS)
39
Ben Bartholomew
TE
6-2
250
So.
1L
Nashville (Montgomery Bell Academy)
14
Eric Berry
DB
5-11
203
Jr.
2L
Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside)
86
Willie Bohannon
DE
6-2
230
Fr.
RS
Mobile, Ala. (Blount)
63
Minor Bowens
OL
6-3
293
Jr.
Tr.
Memphis (Tennessee State Univ.)
54
William Brimfield
OT
6-5
346
So.
Sq.
Norway, S.C. (Hunter-Kinard-Tyler)
11
Bryce Brown
RB
6-0
215
Fr.
HS
Wichita, Kan. (Wichita East HS)
94
Wes Brown
DT
6-4
257
Sr.
3L
Athens, Ala. (Athens)
11
Todd Campbell
WR
6-0
186
So.
Sq.
Nashville (Franklin)
9
Bram Cannon
QB/H
6-2
195
Sr.
1L
Memphis (Briarcrest)
45
Kevin Cooper
FB
6-0
247
Jr.
1L
Chattanooga (Baylor)
80
Jeff Cottam
TE
6-8
260
Sr.
3L
Germantown (Germantown)
Geoff Courtney
WR/H
6-1
180
Jr.
Sq.
Knoxville (Farragut)
53
Morgan Cox
DS
6-4
226
Sr.
2L
Collierville (Evangelical Christian
8
Jonathan Crompton
QB
6-4
228
Sr.
3L
Waynesville, N.C. (Tuscola)
96
Chad Cunningham
P/PK
6-3
198
Jr.
2L
Dawsonville, Ga. (Dawson County)
Albert Davies
DB
5-10
200
Jr.
Tr.
Charlotte, N.C., (Middle Tennessee State)
19
Chris Donald
LB
6-1
224
So.
Sq.
Huntingdon (Huntingdon)
78
Aaron Douglas
OT
6-6
282
Fr.
RS
Maryville (Maryville)
23
Sam Edgmon
FB
6-1
220
So.
Sq.
Pulaski (Giles County)
20
Mike Edwards
DB
5-10
170
Fr.
HS
Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville Academic Campus)
15
Cory Eichholtz
DB
5-8
180
Fr.
Sq.
Knoxville (Bearden)
25
Art Evans
DB
6-1
173
So.
1L
Lakeland, Fla. (Evangel Christian)
38
C.J. Fleming
DB
5-10
173
So.
Sq.
Richmond, Va. (Highland Springs)
90
Steven Fowlkes
DE
6-4
229
Fr.
RS
College Park, Ga. (Banneker)
43
Savion Frazier
LB
6-2
221
Jr.
2L
Woodbridge, Va. (Gar-Field)
6
Derrick Furlow
DB
6-1
190
Sr.
Sq.
Atlanta, Ga. (Crossett [Ark.])
24
Eric Gordon
DB
5-10
187
Fr.
HS
Nashville (Hillsboro HS)
81
James Green
WR
6-3
195
Fr.
HS
Tallahassee, Fla. (Leon HS)
59
Nick Guess
DS
6-3
208
So.
Sq.
Knoxville (Farragut)
87
Quintin Hancock
WR
6-3
207
Sr.
2L
St. Augustine, Fla. (St. Augustine)
2
Montario Hardesty
RB
6-0
215
Sr.
3L
New Bern, N.C. (New Bern)
64
Jonny Harrison
OL
6-2
235
Sr.
Sq.
Vienna, Va. (Catholic Univ.)
44
Josh Hawkins
LB
6-1
223
So.
Sq.
Loudon (Loudon)
25
Steven Hensley
WR
5-10
185
Sr.
Sq.
Coalfield (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
89
Daniel Hood
OL
6-5
255
Fr.
HS
Knoxville (Catholic HS)
93
Montori Hughes
DT
6-4
312
Fr.
HS
Murfreesboro (Siegel HS)
10
Ethan Ingham
PK
6-0
195
Fr.
Sq.
Portland (Gallatin)
15
Janzen Jackson
DB
6-0
180
Fr.
HS
Lake Charles, La. (Barbe HS)
95
Arthur Jeffery
DL
6-4
285
Fr.
HS
Sarasota, Fla. (Booker HS)
Grant Jessen
LB
6-0
210
Fr.
Sq.
Cordova (St. George’s)
Jeremy Jester
TE
6-3
235
Fr.
Sq.
Sevierville (Hargrave Military Acad.)
40
Austin Johnson
FB
6-2
234
So.
1L
Hickory, N.C. (Hickory)
31
Marsalous Johnson
DB
5-9
184
Sr.
3L
Smyrna (Smyrna)
4
Gerald Jones
WR
6-0
199
Jr.
2L
Oklahoma City, Okla. (Millwood)
83
Charles Karlosky
DL
6-3
220
Jr.
Tr.
Cookeville (Tennessee Tech)
47
Greg King
LB
6-3
205
Fr.
HS
Memphis (Melrose HS)
Nick Lamaison
QB
6-1
210
Jr.
JC
Walnut, Calif. (Mt. San Antonio [CA] College)
34
Herman Lathers
LB
6-1
213
Fr.
RS
Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville)
Ben Lehning
TE
6-0
230
So.
Sq.
Nashville (David Lipscomb)
26
Daniel Lincoln
PK
6-0
203
Jr.
2L
Ocala, Fla. (Forest)
99
Ben Martin
DE
6-3
239
Jr.
2L
Cincinnati, Ohio (La Salle)
46
Andre Mathis
DT
6-2
280
Sr.
2L
Erie, Pa. (Cathedral Prep)
3
Darren Myles, Jr.
S
6-2
190
Fr.
HS
Atlanta, Ga. (Carver HS)
65
Jacques McClendon
OG
6-3
324
Sr.
3L
Cleveland (The Baylor School)
5
Rico McCoy
LB
6-1
220
Sr.
3L
Washington, D.C. (St. John’s College HS)
50
Josh McNeil
C
6-4
280
Sr.
3L
Collins, Miss. (Collins)
37
Nigel Mitchell-Thornton
LB
6-0
229
Fr.
HS
Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson HS)
6
Denarius Moore
WR
6-1
190
Jr.
2L
Tatum, Texas (Tatum)
Jon Morrison
DE
6-2
255
So.
Sq.
Knoxville (Farragut)
97
Chase Nelson
DT
6-4
292
Jr.
Sq.
Tulsa, Okla. (Union)
97
Robert Nelson
LB
6-0
205
Fr.
HS
Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stone Mountain HS)
Michael Odell
WR
6-0
211
So.
Sq.
Kodiak, Alaska (Kodiak)
27
David Oku
RB
5-10
186
Fr.
HS
Midwest City, Okla. (Carl Albert HS)
30
Nyshier Oliver
ATH
5-10
180
Fr.
HS
Jersey City, NJ (Saint Peter’s Prep)
28
Tauren Poole
RB
5-10
203
So.
1L
Toccoa, Ga. (Stephens County)
77
Cody Pope
OG
6-6
288
So.
Sq.
Julian, Calif. (Cathedral Catholic)
29
Stephaun Raines
DB
5-10
179
So.
Sq.
Dalton, Ga. (Coffeyville [Kan.] CC)
56
Nick Reveiz
LB
5-10
220
Jr.
2L
Farragut (Farragut)
45
Shane Reveiz
LB
5-11
210
So.
Sq.
Farragut (Farragut)
83
Kevin Revis
OL
6-4
265
Fr.
HS
Evansville (Rhea County HS)
47
Chip Rhome
P
6-3
200
So.
Tr.
Christiana (Austin Peay State Univ.)
51
Vladimir Richard
OL
6-4
300
Sr.
2L
Sunrise, Fla. (Piper)
7
Nu’Keese Richardson
WR
5-10
165
Fr.
HS
Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee HS)
41
Dennis Rogan
DB
5-10
178
Jr.
2L
Knoxville (Fulton)
21
Austin Rogers
WR
6-2
190
Sr.
3L
Nashville (David Lipscomb)
83
Zach Rogers
WR
6-2
170
Fr.
HS
Nashville (David Lipscomb HS)
79
Chris Scott
OT
6-5
346
Sr.
3L
Riverdale, Ga. (Lovejoy)
74
Jarrod Shaw
OG
6-4
332
Jr.
1L
Lafayette, La. (Northside)
75
JerQuari Schofield
OL
6-6
315
Fr.
HS
Aiken, S.C. (South Aiken HS)
17
Nick Stephens
QB
6-4
227
Jr.
1L
Flower Mound, Texas (Flower Mound)
88
Luke Stocker
TE
6-6
240
Jr.
2L
Berea, Ky. (Madison Southern)
40
Jake Storey
LB
5-11
218
So.
Sq.
Titusville, Fla. (Astronaut)
66
Cody Sullins
C
6-1
260
Sr.
2L
Cottontown (White House)
69
Cory Sullins
OL
6-1
270
Sr.
1L
Cottontown (White House)
98
Rae Sykes
DE
6-2
255
So.
JC
Alcoa (Alcoa HS/Coffeyville CC)
10
Marsalis Teague
ATH
5-10
180
Fr.
HS
Paris (Henry County HS)
71
Dallas Thomas
OT
6-5
268
Fr.
RS
Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville)
52
Victor Thomas
DT
6-4
286
Jr.
1L
Olive Branch, Miss. (Olive Branch)
42
LaMarcus Thompson
LB
6-1
221
Jr.
2L
Lithonia, Ga. (Redan HS)
9
Daryl Vereen
LB
6-0
213
So.
1L
Charlotte, N.C. (North Mecklenburg)
13
Brent Vinson
DB
6-0
201
Jr.
2L
Hampton, Va. (Hargrave Military)
23
Prentiss Waggner
DB
6-2
177
Fr.
RS
Clinton, La. (Clinton)
84
Chris Walker
DE
6-3
232
Jr.
2L
Memphis (Christian Brothers)
58
Marlon Walls
DL
6-2
225
Fr.
HS
Olive Branch, Miss. (/Hargrave Military Academy)
1
Brandon Warren
WR
6-2
216
Jr.
1L
Alcoa (Florida State Univ.)
Matt Wegzyn
TE
6-3
230
Fr.
Sq.
Northville, Mich. (Northville)
22
Rod Wilks
DB
6-0
220
Fr.
RS
Smyrna (Smyrna)
55
Dan Williams
DT
6-3
327
Sr.
2L
Memphis (Memphis East)
57
Gerald Williams
DE
6-4
248
Jr.
1L
Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. (City Col. of San Fran.)
33
Toney Williams
TB
6-0
218
Fr.
HS
Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton HS)
Tyler Wolf
DB
6-0
200
Jr.
Sq.
Cookeville (Cookeville)

Navigation: Coaching StaffAssistant Coaches2009 Alphabetical RosterThe TennesseeumReturn to Top

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 2

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by: 3rd Saturday in Blogtober

This week marks the second edition of the 2009 version of the Big Orange Roundtable and is hosted by the guys over at 3SIB..

Week 2

1)  We will start with an easy one.  Last week, our beloved Rock was relocated across the street to make room for a new building on campus.  What are your thoughts on the Rock’s relocation?

bullet HSH: Being a student, I actually have the slight advantage of seeing the change.  I drove by as the crane was lifting the behemoth out of the ground, and I’ve only seen it once since it’s been moved.  I have to say it’s going be to a little odd driving through the stoplight next to Stokely Athletic Center and the Thornton Athletic Student Center (where all the UT athletes get their school on), looking to my left and not seeing the Rock.  It might take a little bit of time to get used the change come the fall.

For me, it’s just another aspect of a common theme of my years here as a student.  Here’s what’s changed or been built since I came to Knoxville in the fall of 2006: all the recent renovations to Neyland Stadium, the makeover of Thompson-Boling Arena, Pratt Pavilion, a new soccer stadium, a new softball stadium, the brand new aquatic center.

And that’s just the changes on the athletics side of campus.  There’s also been the total change in the old Glocker Building, which has now become Haslam Business Building where all the business majors do their thing.  The Baker Policy Center was risen up on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and 17th Street, replacing the parking lot where my family parked for every game I came to up until I graduated from high school.  Those are two major projects, that I’ve seen started and completed in my days as a student.

Back to the Rock, my only contact with actually came before I was officially enrolled.  I had two of the more enthusiastic Orientation leaders, and late one night during the two-day event we got together and painted the thing.  I would have visual evidence to prove it, but my computer erased my hard drive awhile, thus I have nothing…


The Rock in its new Home

The Rock in its new Home

bullet Lawvol: First of all, I am glad that the Rock did not unceremoniously disappear from campus as a result of the new Student Health Center that is being constructed.  The worst thing imaginable would have been for the university to simply blow the thing up or what have you and cart it off.  I realize the process of relocating the Rock was both onerous and expensive, but I have to give a little credit to university administration (a/k/a “The Big Orange Screw”) for making the right call and preserving this tradition for future generations.

All that said, the last time I painted the Rock was 1997.  I say “painted”—my involvement actually centered more on leaning up against the Rock in a near catatonic state as drool fell from my gaping mouth and I uttered various slurred obscenities at my cohorts.  You see, I was completely pissed drunk overcome by a multitude of circumstances at the time and my recollection of that particular evening of frivolity is fuzzy to say the least.  Still, the Rock does have a special place in my mind due to its tradition of announcing great events, lurid innuendo, and Gameday proclamations.  Considering it is directly across the street from where it used to be located, I doubt there will really be all that much difference.

Of course, I do wonder whether some students may be confused by the relocation—in particular, those suffering from the same … mental confusion … that afflicted me the last time I painted the Rock.  If so, the university may be faced with a long road of maintenance as the drunken masses repeatedly paint the front of the new Student Health Center.

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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


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)
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