Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

2009 SEC Preview: Kentucky

2009 SEC Previews | Gate 21

Three years, three bowl games, three bowl wins.

The last time Kentucky football had seen a similar stretch of success, they had Tim Couch throwing the ball all over Commonwealth Stadium in the Fun’N’Gun-on-steroids offense of Hal Mumme.

After Jared Lorenzen became the school’s all-time career passing leader and a combined 5 wins in Rich Brooks’ first two years, Andre Woodson came in and by his senior season had not only made the Wildcats a competitive team that couldn’t be taken lightly by the SEC heavyweights, but had Kentucky ranked in the top 10 in the country after knocking off top-ranked LSU.

However, the bottom fell out on the rest of that 2007 season, and after Woodson graduated, along with a trio of targets currently on NFL rosters (Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson and Jacob Tamme), many – including myself felt Kentucky was going to fall back a little bit into their normal role of fighting with Vanderbilt to stay out of the SEC East cellar.

But, despite averaging only 18 points a game in the conference, Kentucky managed six wins (the Wildcats went just 2-6 in the SEC) and capped it off by beating Conference USA champion East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. However, with the departure of the majority of the defense Kentucky relied and the struggles of the offense, can Kentucky reach a fourth straight bowl, something they’ve never done in 120 years of playing football?

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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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Headlines, Links, & Lies: “I haven’t crashed into anything yet!” Edition

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Well, I am almost done with the migration of the Gate from its current location on the web to its new home with my new hosting provider: Media Temple.  So far, I have been nothing but impressed with what they have to offer and I hope that there are many great things to come in the future here as a result.   I anticipate the “flipping the switch” for the change over in the next day or so, thus, my prior warning about the possibility that the Gate might “go missing” stands for a little while longer.  Such is life.

At any rate, due to being tied up with all my hosting-reconfiguration activities, I haven’t really had a chance to finish up the post I had planned for today. Thus, at a minimum I wanted to pass on a few links and what-not that seemed worth giving a look.

  • The Big Orange Roundtable Returneth: For those of you that remember the Vol-blogosphere’s little foray into collaboration from 2008, the roundtable is back.  Thus, the Big Orange Brethren (myself included) kickoff the 2009 Big Orange Roundtable this week with the first installment hosted by MoonDog.  For those of you who were not around for last year’s roundtable, it is a weekly roundtable discussion where a host poses a series of questions to the collective brain-trust of the Vol-blogosphere who, respond with their BS insightful and thought provoking answers.  At the end of the week, the host provides a round-up of the responses and the comments posted by each of the member Roundtable sites, along with a few parting thoughts.  It is a great series that was a lot of fun last season. Go ahead and check out this week’s questions.   I plan on posting my responses in the next day or so.
  • Ray Nettles and the Long Road to Redemption: Ray Nettles was a linebacker for the Big Orange from 1969-1971, winning All-America and All-SEC honors in 1971.  Over the past 38 years since leaving Tennessee he has struggled with his demons and his own brand of inner-conflict.  Now, however, he talks of redemption and finding his way back home from battles with addiction, marital strife, and now cancer.  Throughout his journey he has been supported by his former teammates in ways that even he has a difficult time understanding.

    Video: Ray Nettles Seeks Redemption

    This is a really powerful story of success, collapse, failure, and recovery which I highly recommend. HTVia: Florida Times-Union • HT: The Vol Historian

  • The 2008 Football Season in Seconds: Joel, “the Flashmaster General” offers up a re-cap of the entire 2008 football season in only seconds.   How, you ask? Through the miracles of the Adobe flash player, that’s how.  Check it out, just in case you forgot… HTVia: Rocky Top Talk

  • At least I drive better than this: I am really not sure why this lady was having such a difficult time driving a golf cart. They are fairly simple inventions.  Two pedals.  One steering wheel.  Four tires.  Needless to say, I won’t be riding with her anytime soon.

    Video: How Not to Drive a Golf Cart

    Now I know where personal-injury lawyers get their clients… HTVia: Fandome

At any rate, I hope to have the Gate migrated to its new home and to finally be set for the upcoming football season soon.

Until then, this will have to do…

– So it goes …Email lawvol No McAlisters

Coming soon to Newsstands: “Rocky Top Tennessee 2009″

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

Tennessee Football In case you haven’t heard, there’s a pretty great new Tennessee Football preview annual coming out in only a few short days.  It’s from Maple Street Press and is entitled: “Rocky Top Tennessee 2009.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself “those previews are all the same, a bunch of the same basic statistics and information re-styled to make them appear shiny and new.”  In most circumstances you would be correct, but this preview is a little different than most.  You see, Maple Street Press does not approach these sorts of publications the way that some of the other publishers do.  They turn independent writers and bloggers who are passionate about their team and ask them to write on subjects that are near and dear to their hearts.

The result is a 128 pages of thoughtful insight, analysis, and perspective that the mainstream press simply does not offer.  Furthermore, if your a regular reader here at Gate 21 and other sites across the web, you’ll recognize some of the writers and be pleasantly surprised at the ways Rocky Top Tennessee 2009 differs from the run-of-the-mill preview magazine.

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Flashback: The Great Games — Kentucky 1997

The Great Games |

Last year, during the off-season, I began a series on the Great Games played by the Tennessee Volunteers football team over the many years as seen through my eyes.  As I am wont to do, I seem to have lost my focus and have not exactly done a capital job of keep that series going.  Imagine that.

Since the off-season is once again upon us—paired with the fact that I have been coming up pretty spare in terms of ideas lately—I’ve decided it is time to once again take a walk down memory lane and re-live some of the greatest games in Tennessee history.  For those of you who missed the 2008 installments of this series, here are the ones I’ve covered thus far:

In addition to my list, Will, one of the sages over at RTT has been counting down the top-50 games of the Phillip Fulmer era in grand style.  Predictably, some of his favorites are on my list as well.  Trust me, his list is worth a look (and is far better researched, far more thoughtful, far better written, and … well … just far better than my little foray into the ghosts of games past).  Since I don’t want to be accused of stealing his thunder, I will be citing to his accounts of his favorite games liberally.

In fairness, it might be best to just skip this article altogether and just go read his work.  Lord knows I would but for the fact that I have to write it…

22 November 1997

Tennessee Football vs. Kentucky Football

(5) Tennessee 59 •    Kentucky 31

Commonwealth Stadium  •  Lexington, Kentucky

Some folks might think I am crazy for including the 22 November 1997 contest between Tennessee and the Kentucky Wildcats on my list of great games.  I can understand why they might question my thoughts on this (or my sanity).  This game was anything but a flawless game for the Vols and was hardly the Tennessee defense’s finest hour.  In fact, the game as a whole was pretty darn sloppy, as was the weather.  Still, for reasons which I will attempt to explain (a feat I will likely fail utterly to accomplish), this game still ranks as one of the great games in Tennessee football history.  The short answer as to why can be summed up in two words:

Peyton Manning

I make no bones about it.  I am a huge fan of the guy  who wore No. 16 for the Vols from 1994 to 1998.  As many have pointed out, both Andy Kelly (1989-91) and Heath Shuler (1991-93) could—in their own right—claim to be the greatest Vol quarterback in the history of the program during the time they wore an orange shirt.  Then, starting only a few snaps into the 1994 game against the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl, everyone in Orange Nation began the process of forgetting everything they ever knew about quarterbacks at Tennessee, as true freshman Peyton Manning took the reins from senior Jerry Colquitt, who quite tragically (and downright depressingly) suffered a career-ending injury in the first series of his first start at quarterback.

The rest, as they say, is history…

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What the Puck?! Carolina beats the Bruins!

After last night, I’m just glad that the Canes are still alive…

My, oh my!  The Carolina Hurricanes are going to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals!  Led by the RBC Center’s master of the scoreboard ceremonies —the Nature Boy, Ric Flair—everyone is “WOOO-ing” in my hometown, the City of Oaks.

Video: Carolina Hurricanes Goal! WOOOOO!

The Hurricanes scoreboard celebration after scoring a goal

Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes pulled off the amazing, besting the Boston Bruins 3-2 last night in Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Once again, the decisive game of the series came down to the wire, with Carolina securing the victory off of a Scott Walker chip-shot goal with only 1:14 left in sudden death overtime.  The goal scored at 18:46 on the clock in overtime by Walker (who used to play for the Bruins), sealed the game, advanced the Cardiac Canes to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals, and gave the Bruins a chance to get start on all those “honey-do” lists around the house.  For some real insights on the game, check out Canes Country (which is written by people who actually understand hockey).

Up next, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Once again, I find myself loving this “hockey thing” and having something to cheer about in the off-season as I prepare for the Tennessee Volunteers’ upcoming football season.  Of course, as I mentioned a few weeks ago when the Canes beat the New Jersey Devils, hockey can be a hard sell in the South, where few people ever played the game.  Still, it seems to me that hockey is a natural fit in the South due to all of the things it has to offer.  In reply to my last hockey post, I posted a few comments on the issue:

I think the primary reason that so few Southerners really “get” hockey is due to the fact they had no exposure to playing it. I played (at some level) all of the major sports, except hockey growing up. The first time I went to a hockey game I was a little sketchy on the rules and really wasn’t completely sure what was going on except for trying to get the puck in the goal.

The penalties left me a bit perplexed too. I remember thinking “A penalty of ‘icing’ — what the hell is that about? The playing surface — in case you hadn’t noticed Mr. Referee—is a big freakin’ sheet of ICE! They’re all knocking big chunks of the frozen stuff all over the place, why do you have to pick on that guy?

Over time, however, I have picked up on most of the rules and so forth, but the other thing I realized the night I first went to watch a hockey game was that I didn’t need to understand the rules. In some ways, hockey is a synthesis of all the great games: the team model of basketball; a flow like soccer; the speed of … well … racing; the use of sticks to hit things like baseball (okay that one is a bit of a stretch); and the strategy and bone-crushing physicality of football. Oh, yeah, and there is the whole fistfight thing from boxing.  The thing that makes it so exciting is the speed and the anticipation of the goal.

Most of all, it is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I really wish more Southerners would give it a look, it is a blast to watch in person.

So, all of you, go out and watch a hockey game next time you get the chance, whether it be the Hurricanes, the Predators, the Knoxville Ice Bears or whatever team is in your area. It’s a good time.

Just remember to bring a sweater…

via: Comments on “Speaking of Hockey…” | Gate 21

Seriously, hockey is a pretty darn cool game.  On top of that, most of the teams in the South know that they are a new thing to a lot of folks, and as a result have done everything they can to reach out to the community and show them what a great game hockey is.  Here’s Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos explaining—GEICO style—what the Hurricanes did to get the community involved (well, sort of):

Video: Carolina Hurricanes: Real Hockey

I love the outtakes reel at the end of that one

The game is just exciting, and I for one agree with what Mike Greenberg said on today’s edition of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning this morning: while I may be a much bigger fan of other sports, the NHL playoffs are some of the most exciting sporting events you will ever see.

Yes, just like before, I do realize that all this hockey talk is a bit off-topic for a site focusing on the Vols and the SEC.  Still, I figure there’s a little wiggle room in that whole “Life, the Universe…” part of the Gate’s byline (that’s those words at the top of the page, if you were wondering).

Besides, what else is there to write about at present…

– So it goes Email lawvol No McAlisters

Videos(s) Courtesy of:   Raleigh News & Observer •  N& ||  Statement on Fair Use

Back from wherever it is that I have been, including Home Depot

No, I didn’t quit writing, join the circus, get attacked by Somali Pirates, or decide to take up ad hoc piloting of random airplanes falling pilotless from the sky.  I just decided that it was time for a few days off.  This was due to a number of things.  First there was the fact that—after the conclusion of the Final Four—there wasn’t much to talk about last week.  Secondly, I have been working on trying to get a few things done which, hopefully, will improve a few things here at the Gate in anticipation of football season (and I do really hope that this is the case).  Furthermore, my non-blogging life has required that I do things other than fixate upon football season which, according to the tell-tale little widget over on the right sidebar (that’s this way right arrow for those of you who are directionally challenged), is still more than 140 days off.  Finally, there were three big points which put me in bit of a funk, one which I decided to wallow in for a day or so, those points are as follows:

Pretty much sums up my luck...

  1. Florida Gators, National Champions;
  2. North Carolina Tarheels, National Champions; and
  3. Connecticut Huskies, National Champions.

I guess 2008-09 just wasn’t meant to be my year.  So it goes…

Anyway, all of that said, here I am back again with a number of stream of consciousness observations that I wanted to chase down, and now seems as good a time as any…

Who knew that Home Depot was a hotbed of College Football Conflict…

I live in Eastern North Carolina, I am within 20 miles of the University of North Carolina (a/k/a “Tarhead U”), Duke University, and NC State University.  I am anywhere but in the heart of SEC country and quite a distance from anything resembling real football.  The closest team of consequence would probably be the Carolina Panthers, which is not exactly the same thing.  For this reason, I was a bit surprised this weekend at a brief exchange I had in the parking lot of my local purveyor of all things home improvement related:  Home Depot.

Home DepotMy goal was simple: collect 18 bags of mulch for the yard.  My mind was focused on trying to figure out if there was a way to get out of spending the rest of the weekend playing with wood chips and was less than attuned to matters related to football.  I had already dumped 12 bags of the stuff, and thus was less than cognizant of my “yard hat” which has “Tennessee” emblazoned upon it in letters which could be read from across the room … a large room.

Thus, I was a bit taken aback when I stepped out of my truck to a firm and slightly louder than it should have been greeting from a man in a jeep with a huge-ish Gator head on the spare tire cover:

BOOOOOOO!!  Kiffin!

Again, not fully in command of my football fightin’ instincts at the moment, the best response I could muster was a thumbs up in my heckler’s direction, paired with a wink, and a half-perplexed “How ‘bout ‘cha?!

The point of this seemingly inane tale of my trip to the hardware store (ahem, “Home Improvement Warehouse”) is not meant to warn of the pitfalls attending minor maintenance tasks, to assail Home Depot’s loyalties (I know they are based out of Atlanta, but their colors are orange and white, after all), or to provide a convenient excuse for getting out of those “Honey-Do” lists.  It’s far more subtle than that…

Lane Kiffin is in the Gators’ heads.

At least in my semi-unbalanced mind, my harmless little weekend run-in—paired with the profusion of “Tennessee” signs seen in the video posted by HSH—it seems that Kiffin’s little barbs have hit their mark far beyond the confines East Tennessee.  Some of the Gator faithful agree.  Of course, as the Hoopmaster General discovered, the sparring does come at a bit of price in the form of craziness from the less than sane and those with an axe to grind (or a deadline to meet). Still, as John Pennington pointed out the Blackjack General’s messages are not simply confined to sound bites and quips, but are rapidly approaching the point of real tangible substance.

With no disrespect to Coach Fulmer, I’m betting that in April 2008 my assailant says nothing at all.

I like it!

Moving Right Along … to the Orange & White Game

It’s Spring Football Time in Tennessee!

Yes, you can get a small football fix this weekend by attending the Orange & White Game, scheduled to start at 3:00 at Neyland Stadium.  All sorts of information on the game is available over at UT  Tickets are $5.00 and all proceeds will go to benefit UT’s Hodges Library.  Besides, when else can you get to see the Vols play for $5.00?

For those of you planning on attending the game, I would encourage you to consider meeting up with the guys from Rocky Top Talk who will be meeting in front of the hallowed ground of the Real Gate 21 on Saturday, for more information check out the faux-schedule for the meet-up.  Sorry to disappoint everyone, but Joel, Hooper, and Will will not be signing autographs, but many of the 2009 Vols will be, so don’t get too upset.

On a more substantive note, the Spring Outlook / Team Breakdown is now available for download as well PDF Document.  It is full of stats and perspectives on the squad coming into the Orange & White game.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend, but hope to find somewhere to catch the game on the web.  The Orange & White Game is sponsored by Dish Network, however, apparently it will not be televised anywhere, including Dish Network.

Either way, this is the best chance for Orange Nation to get a glimpse of the new look Vols…

Finally, an amazing story from the non-sports world worth giving a look…

“Are you using the autopilot, or are you flying the airplane?”

• Southwest Florida Int’l Air Traffic Control

Me and the Good Lord’s Hands are flying this one…

• Airplane Passenger, Doug White

Those are not words you like to hear from a pilot trying to guide a plane in for landing, but that is what airplane passenger Doug White had to say during his brush with fate earlier this week.  If you haven’t heard about this story, you really should check out the article posted at  White, along with his family were flying home to Louisiana on a twin engine plane when the pilot unexpectedly died shortly after taking off from Fort Meyers, Florida.  There was no co-pilot on board.  As a result, White—who had flying experience, but only in single engine planes—was forced to land the plane on his own.

Fortunately, with the assistance of Air Traffic controllers, White managed to land the plane safely.

For me, the audio recording of White’s conversation with the tower are particularly compelling.  The FAA released the audio recording earlier today.  It is a little on the long side and has several periods of extended silence (5-10 seconds), but giving it a listen will remind you just how great it is to be alive.  From the tension and relief in White’s voice near the end of the recording, I am pretty sure that he is glad.  Seriously, if you have a few minutes give the full recording a listen.

AUDIO:  N559DW — Emergency Landing at Southwest Florida Int’l Airport (Ft. Myers, FL)  |

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

That one makes my birthday seem like a blessing…

– So it goes…About Lawvol

Image(s) Courtesy ofUTAD / UT •  Home Depot / The Auto Blog ||  Audio Courtesy ofFederal Aviation Administration ||   Statement on Fair Use
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