Posts Tagged ‘Lennon Creer’

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Big Orange Roundtable: Star Wars Edition

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

It’s Bama Week

No Alabama-Tennessee week would be complete without a Big Orange Roundtable, and the Vols over at Third Saturday in Blogtober have been gracious enough to include us in a joint roundtable with their Bammer counterparts in a Orange/White/Crimson Roundtable.

Two side notes: first, if you haven’t been reading the loads of great stuff over at 3SIB, please do so NOW. Never has there been such a great place to see so much good-natured trash talk as there has been over there this week. Second, if you’re looking for the On Remote post, don’t worry: it’s coming tomorrow.

Anyways, to this week’s great questions, which oddly enough have a dominant Stars Wars theme. I’m proud (and comfortable enough with myself) to say that I absolutely loved Star Wars in my elementary school days when the three original movies were “remade.” I had everything – books, action figures of all sizes, models, playsets, etc. – you name it, I probably had it. Seriously, Star Wars was just plain awesome to me (keep word there being was) back in those days.

So of course I quite a laugh out of these week’s questions, and the answers so far have been pretty good. I’ll try to do what I can to keep them up. Anyways…

Death Star

1. Both teams at some point or another have been described as an Evil Empire. If your team is the Death Star, what is it’s planet-destroying weapon?

This is a no-brainer: Eric Freaking Berry. He is a human missile, whether it’s closing in on any throw by the opposing QB or the helpless ballcarrier breaking into the second level. Seriously, you see this aspect of Berry’s game pretty well when you sit at field level a couple times like I have the past two home games.

Berry already destroyed a few things this year, like Knowshon Moreno and Mississippi State specifically. I can’t wait to see who is next (Julio Jones? Glen Coffee?  J.P. Wilson? Rolando McClain?). If Tennessee had 22 Eric Berrys, the Vols would beat the Titans (are the Tennessee Titans really the NFL’s best team?? seriously??) by 30 points – and that’s on an off day.

Get owned Knowshon

Berry is a special special player. A once-in-a-lifetime type player. And he’s just a sophomore. He still has half his career left – assuming he stays four years. And as of this week I’m one of his over 3,300 friends on Facebook…

More like fifty-meter wide for Tennessee

2. What is its two meter wide exhaust port?

Easily the toughest question this week…where do I start? At first it was the QB play. That’s changed. Then it was special teams (I bet we punt to Javier Arenas Saturday night too). Britton’s back now. Then it was the running back rotation. Lennon Creer was the leading rusher against Mississippi State. At times it’s the schemes in the secondary. The Vols had two pick-sixes and gave up 3 points last week.

I guess that leaves me with the offensive line. It doesn’t matter who you put at running back if the line can’t open up any holes. With Anthony Parker potentially out Saturday night, the line becomes really thin. For all the hype these guys got in the preseason, they have to be the biggest disappointment, right?

Here’s to hoping it stops Saturday night. Terrence Cody is now out, so that helps tremendously. This line needs to just get pissed off and blow Bama up in the trenches. It’s going to be a real challenge, but I think these guys are capable. I mean, have you seen Vlad Richard? Jacques McClendon benches over 600 pounds. It’s not like Ramon Foster and Chris Scott are little guys, either…

My weak attempt at my first fark: Darth do we need Lawvol back or what??

3. Everyone is looking forward to Eric Berry vs. Julio Jones. What is the next matchup you’ll be keying on in this game?

In the trenches. Bammer has been really studly along the lines in both of their best games this year, the win over Clemson and the first half battering of Georgia in Athens last month. Tennessee in the trenches? Ehh…

Surprisingly, the defensive front hasn’t played that bad. They had Tyson Lee running for his life last weekend (perhaps giving them a confidence boost), knocked NIU’s QB out and were everywhere against Auburn as well. Unfortunately, Alabama is none of those. Georgia pushed the Vols around, but that had as much to do with the fact the Tennessee defense played 80 snaps than anything else, really.

Alabama has the best offensive line that Tennessee has faced to this point. If they can slow down the Tide rushing attack and get some hurries on Wilson, it greatly enhances Tennessee’s chances for the win. Obviously that’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible by any means.

I’ve already discussed the other side of the trenches coin in Question #3, so I won’t go much into that. But Tennessee will have to run the ball to have a prayer of winning Saturday night. Can they do it?

4. The Tide and Vols will scrap it out under the lights at Neyland. Do you like this arrangement and does the later kickoff time provide an advantage to either team?

I would imagine if any advantage comes from the time of the game itself, it’s Tennessee, simply because naturally night SEC games are supposedly louder than earlier games. Or so says the theory – I might just be reaching, looking for anything to increase my very slim hopes that the Vols don’t get run out of the stadium…

Seriously, though, the crowd – those that have been there (only my fellow idiot students have been lacking, leaving over 1,000 for the Bammers), at least – has been pretty into the past two night games for a MAC team and a bottom-level SEC team. If they aren’t amped up for freakin’ Alabama, then…well I don’t even think that’s possible. How long before the Tide crush any hope is the real key…

As for if I like this arrangement, that’s just silly. Of course!! Tailgating and gamedays are one of favorite aspects of being here in Knoxville and being in college. And now I get to enjoy it for probably something like 8 hours Saturday.

Advantage – me!

5. Since the Tide had a bye week and the Vols didn’t bother to play that weekend either (zing!) we’re going to say this is the Third Saturday in October just to justify the name of one of the greatest rivalries in college football. In three thousand words or less, turn over the kettles of white-hot liquid hate upon thine enemy.

I believe that (a) I already addressed this yesterday and (b) I certainly went over the 3,000 word limit. So I’ll just take the easy, slacker way out and link it. CLICK HERE!!!

Update: by Lawvol…

Hopefully, HSH won’t take it personally that I am adding to his post, but he did call me out on the fark of Saban.

Thus, here are my humble additions to the Star Wars Edition:

Can the Jedi Prevail?


Or will Darkness Take Control?

Will Darkness Take Control?

The Rest of the Roundtable is linked here. Please go read their answers, their’s are probably better than mine – though I did like my answer to #4 (and it brought some great comments). Hopefully Lawvol can get a chance to post his own as comments – this is his site after all…

- 3SIB
- Curveballs For Jesus
- Fulmer’s Belly

Images Courtesy of: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images (Daylife)

Postgame Thoughts: Northern Illinois 9 — Tennessee 13

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:

Stephens looked capable in his first start.

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…

The Defense:

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 Offense:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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 –9:53am

There’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…

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

Images Courtesy of: Go Vols Xtra / Saul Young

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)

It Was UAB…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

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…

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…

Lawvol goes to Gate 21, I went into Student Gate 4 Saturday

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

The UAB mascot was just plain awesome - though I would NOT have wanted to be in that suit in that heat

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