Posts Tagged ‘Josh McNeil’

Clay Travis’ “On Rocky Top”: Beautiful Agony

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

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

I suppose, I was just ready to move on.

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

You do.

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

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Big Orange Roundtable: Week 2

This Week’s Host: The Power T

Week Zwei

(That’s German for “2″)

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by none other than The Power T, who has served up a heapin’ helpin’ of questions for we “Volggers” to consider. Being that I am all about riding the coat-tails of others (and the fact they haven’t kicked me out of the Roundtable … yet) here are Gate 21’s thoughts on all that is this week in the world of Tennessee Football.

(Questions in Sort-o-Teal-like color)

1) A position of strength for the Vols this fall should be wide receivers. Which 2 guys will emerge from the pack to start the opener against UCLA alongside Lucas Taylor? Why?

First of all, I think that Lucas Taylor is going to be a starter — probably from start to finish. He is the most tested and reliable of the receiving corps this year. As for the other spots, well, it gets more difficult there.

The conventional wisdom would be to go with Austin Rogers and Josh Briscoe (not to be confused with Briscoe Darling) — both have had significant playing time and key catches. They were solid down the stretch (especially in the overtime win against Kentucky, where Rogers saved the day with a huge 2-point conversion catch), however, they both had a few key weaknesses which hampered their overall production. Both had some big drops at key moments, and both appeared to have some shortcomings at times when it came to field awareness. That said, both of these upperclassmen now have an additional year of experience under their belt, and will no longer have to live in the shadow of the amazing and talented Robert Meachem.

The “Other” Briscoe

That said, I really like what I saw from Gerald Jones in his limited playing time last season, and something in my gut tells me that this talented sophomore will secure — at a minimum — 50% of one of the remaining starting spots. Based upon what I understand Dave Clawson’s offensive model to be, it seems that Jones would make a perfect fit — especially when it is time to go deep.

I am a huge fan of using the Tight End as an additional passing threat (something that I have a feeling we may see under Dave Clawson’s tricked-out-offense), and I hope that we end up using Jeff Cottam more in that role to complement and build upon the strengths of this year’s receivers — thereby making the Vols less one-dimensional and tougher to defend against. Either way, it seems to me that — despite losing a gamebreaker like Meachem — the receivers will be much stronger as a unit this season on the whole, largely due to experience and having more than just one go-to receiver. I feel this is especially true considering that, with Jonathan Crompton under center, it is fair to assume that opposing defenses will now have to honor the possibility that No. 8 may come running at them “Straight Outta Crompton” as well as throw to one of the wide-outs.

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