Posts Tagged ‘Montario Hardesty’

SEC Power Poll: 2009 All-SEC Football Selections Ballot

Get more information on the SEC Power Poll at Team Speed Kills!

2009 All-SEC Football Selections

Well, I have been really lousy job lately at posting.  This has been due to a variety of things, none of which are of any importance to those of you out there in web-land who actually take the time to read the drivel that I produce.  Be that as it may, the brain-trust of the SEC Power Poll have joined together to, yet again, collectively select an All-SEC Football team for 2009.  Here is my ballot in all of its radiant glory:

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About all you have to say…”Job Well Done!”

25 Years

2 Montario Hardesty

Image by Tennessee Journalist via Flickr

On the back of Jonathan Crompton’s 220 passing yards and Montario Hardesty’s 179 yards on the ground, Lane Kiffin’s Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 30-24 in overtime and improved to 7-5 on the season and earned a 2nd place finish in the SEC East behind the Florida Gators.

More importantly in the minds of some, the Vols extended “the streak” to 25 years since yearly opponent Kentucky last beat the Vols.

To put that in perspective, the last time that Wildcats beat the Vols, I was 8 years old…

The Vols all-time record against the Wildcats in football?  An impressive 73-23-9 in 105 meetings.

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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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Vols 63, Western Kentucky 7: The Day After

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

It was Western Kentucky and lawvol did an excellent job with his version of this post (as in better than mine’s going to be), so I’ll keep this relatively brief.

Judging by the atmosphere on campus before the game and during the game in the student section, you would in no way have thought Tennessee’s opponent was possibly the worst Division I-A team in the country. I found this out on the long walk from my apartment down the Cumberland Avenue “Strip” and through the heart of campus on my way to the Vol Walk. I managed to get an up-close spot fort the spectacle, and I’ll have a video from it at the end of this.

The new JumboTron is awesome, especially when they take the ads off and make it full screen (click to enlarge)

As for the game, I’ll start with Jonathan Crompton. Sure, the tipped balls are worrisome and the first interception he threw – though not his fault, said Lane Kiffin – was the awful kind of pass he would have made last year. Other than that, he really didn’t have that many incompletions.

He looked confident. He looked poised. He managed the offense very well (I can only remember one substitution penalty and procedure penalty). He was 21-of-28 and threw five touchdowns for goodness sakes. Sure, it was mostly the short passing game.

But if your quarterback struggles with making multiple reads (as Crompton did in 2008), you don’t make him do that. You let him take the snap and throw it to a wideout against a corner playing off the line and let the playmaker get some yards in space. You throw the short hitch. You get Crompton rolling out with options short, medium and long. Heck, Crompton even slid when he had to scramble.

The receivers played well enough to make you forget the injuries. Luke Stocker caught two scores. Marsalis Teague led the way as a freshmen and is going to be a great player. Quintin Hancock deserves a shout-out.

But this day belonged to the offensive line. Crompton had time to throw and that only helps him. And the line opened enormous holes and got great push on just about every play, as was evidenced in the stats. Hopefully they stay healthy throughout the year, because watching them open lanes for Hardesty, Bryce, Oku and Poole (let’s not forget about Toney WIlliams, either) could be really fun to watch if they are able to keep it up.

The defense was swarming and Western Kentucky had no time to do anything – at all. I thought the linebackers played pretty well, but we’ll have to see how they go up against stronger, faster opponents in the future. Janzen Jackson was the first freshman to see the field defensively, and, like Teague, he’s going to be a great player. I thought Wes Brown also played very well: well as in fresh, considering everything we’d heard about him all preseason were the bad condition of both of his knees.

To conclude, anytime you dominate a team 63-7 and outgain them by the margin Tennessee did, you feel good about it. But if nothing else, it’s a game where you get some confidence, especially on offense where those guys are trying to make us all forget last year’s atrocities. It’s a chance for the freshmen and new players to get some game action, as every little bit of experience helps. Western Kentucky was the perfect opponent for Lane and Company to open up with.

My view from Section F (click to enlarge)

Looking ahead, I think this team could be pretty tough to beat in Neyland Stadium this year. If the crowd was like it was for Western Kentucky – and those of you who were there hopefully agree with me on this – how will it be when Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina come to visit?

Which leads me to my next bold statement: I see absolutely no way UCLA comes into Knoxville next week and beats Tennessee.

There, I said it. First off, anytime you travel across the country to play, you’re at a disadvantage. See LSU last night at Washington, Maryland getting rocked at Cal, our own Vols the past two seasons and Cal coming here in 2006. Kevin Prince is UCLA’s starting QB. He was 18-of-29 for 176 yards, and threw two picks against one touchdown. That was at home, against San Diego State.

Next week he’ll be dealing with the Tennessee defense. In Tennessee’s stadium. Against a group of players and coaches and fans that want to right the wrong of last year’s embarrassing loss. And do it emphatically in front of a national TV audience on ESPN.

Yes, yes, I know we all said the same exact thing last year. But if not for horribly inept coaching (throwing 41 passes Dave Clawson and letting Kevin Craft dink-and-dunk you down the field John Chavis), Tennessee wins that game. UCLA has certainly improved, but this time they get the dubious honor of making the long trip. We all already are aware (boom, alliteration!) of the importance of this game to the rest of the Vols’ season. Tennessee absolutely has to beat UCLA next Saturday.

As soon as the Vols had the first couple of touchdowns yesterday and settled into the complete domination they displayed, my thoughts were already on UCLA. Hence why I’ve spent the last half of this post talking about next Saturday.

Anyways, here’s the video I took of the Vol Walk from yesterday (please know it’s long and my camera steadiness was lacking…you try holding your arm up that high for that long):

YouTube Preview Image

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

From the Ashes Rises a Phoenix: Western Kentucky Postgame Thoughts

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

Western Kentucky vs. Tennessee












Well, there are so very many positive things to say about this game that it is hard to really know where to start, thus, I’ll just start at the top, here are the stats for the game:

Team Stats
Western Kentucky Tennessee
First downs
3rd Down Efficiency
1-for-11, 9%
7-for-9, 78%
4th down efficiency
0-for-1, 0%
0-for-1, 0%
Passing Yards
Return Yards
Sacks-Yards Lost
Fumbles Lost
Penalties – Yards

The stats speak loudly.  Tennessee racked up a whopping 710 total net yards.  Last season the Vols managed only 3,225 yards on the season, today they produced over 20% of last season’s total yards in a single game.  They scored more points than they have since the 2000 game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.  Even more surprising was the balance in the offensive yardage between the pass and the run.

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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

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