Posts Tagged ‘Monte Kiffin’

HLL: Sports Animal Interview with Monte Kiffin and other Links

Headlines, Links & Lies... | Gate 21

Here are a few more running links that I will try and update as the day goes on.

After he fired Kiffin in ’07, [Al] Davis famously noted, “It hurts because I picked the guy. I picked the wrong guy.”
The University of Tennessee now knows just how Davis felt.

And if history tells us anything, so — eventually — will USC.

On another note, sorry to anyone reading for being so disjointed in my posts today, but I’m trying to simply post things as they come to the fore.  I hope to try and post a few thoughts of a substantive nature later today.

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 8 — The Kickoff Edition

Gate 21 is proud to host this week’s Roundtable!

It’s Time…

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by … ummm … oh, yeah, it’s our week.  We here at the Gate are proud to host the 2009 kickoff edition of the Big Orange Roundtable as we all get ready to tee it up and kick it down for the 112th season of Tennessee Volunteers Football.

With that lovely prospect in mind, let’s get down to business:

Week 8

1) (From HSH)  We’ve talked through the past month or so about just about everything we could talk about regarding this Tennessee team: the quarterbacks, offensive line, freshman, Eric Berry, finding healthy wide receivers, freshman again, etc. So the simple question is this: what do you expect or what specifically are you looking for from the Vols against Western Kentucky this Saturday?

bullet HSH: First things first, Western Kentucky is not going to be anything close to resembling a quality football team.  They were recently a power in 1-AA, but this is their first full year in 1-A, and have the potential to be one of the worst teams to come to Neyland Stadium in a while (yes, I’m including Wyoming).  They went just 2-10 last year (the wins were Eastern Kentucky and Murray State) and return just 12 starters from that team.

So if Tennessee hangs 60 points on the Hilltoppers, oh, well it was just Western Kentucky, right?  Not exactly.  I want to see Tennessee score lots of points Saturday afternoon.  I expect Lane Kiffin will want to pound the rock with the running backs.  I want to see a confident Jonathan Crompton that doesn’t make any mistakes and crisply runs the offense.

Defensively, I want to see which freshmen make an early impact in their first games, and how they handle playing for real.  On both sides, I want to see swagger—OK, it’s WKU, but we could be playing my high school’s team and I would still want to see our players have a wealth of confidence in themselves and their coaches that creates said swagger.

bullet Lawvol: I expect and hope to see a few things.  First, I am not exactly expecting grandeur for this first game of the 2009 season, but what I am expecting to see is poise and purpose.  I am hoping that this team brings their attitude—one which was sorely missing last season—and refuses to play down to the level of their opponent which they should beat under almost any circumstance.

Let’s be honest, Western Kentucky went 2-10 last season which made even the Vols’ 5-7 campaign seem decent.  Prior to 2008, however, Western Kentucky had a streak of 12 straight winning seasons, and look to be on the upswing.  That said, The Vols have got to play with a little spark and bring their best game to their opponent—regardless of the quality of that opponent.  The Vols have to play their game and not let it be dictated to them by their opponent.

Most of all, I am looking to see a team that is glad to be on the field playing once more.  I hope that we begin to see the development of the new Kiffin system and hopefully get a huge relief when the quarterback play is surprisingly crisp and effective.  This is a confidence game which is only a good thing if you perform in a manner that inspires confidence

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Headlines, Links & Lies: “Bobblehead” Edition

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

I want one…

Lane and Monte Kiffin Bobbleheads

HT via: Facebook | Tennessee Volunteers Athletics’s Photos – Wall Photos

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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