Posts Tagged ‘Nick Stephens’

Giving Respect Where Respect is Due

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

It pretty much goes without saying that Jonathan Crompton’s journey as the Tennessee Volunteers’ quarterback  been a long and arduous one.  This Saturday, that journey moves one step closer to ending.

This weekend’s contest against Vanderbilt will be Crompton’s final home game for the orange and white and will be his one last chance to show the denizens of Neyland Stadium just how committed he has been to the fortunes of Tennessee football, how dedicated he has been to success as both a player and a leader, how much he has worked to become someone the Vols and their fans could be proud of.

It also represents the last time—perhaps the only time—for Tennessee fans of every stripe to show him just how much they appreciate him for what he has done.

Jonathan Crompton

Image via Wikipedia

Thus, I hope that all of you who make the trek to the game on Saturday will consider doing a little something special to show Crompton that we as the Vol Nation do appreciate his hard work, his effort, and his loyalty to the University of Tennessee.

I think it is the least that we as a fanbase can do.

In recognition of this, a special group has been formed on Facebook to celebrate Crompton’s contribution to Tennessee Football and to hopefully do a little something special for him on the Vol Walk this weekend.

For those of you out there who don’t recall, Crompton received death threats last season due to the Vols’ implosion.  Then, early this season, there were many who, again, questioned his abilities (including yours truly, I’m sad to say) and openly called for Lane Kiffin to bench the Vol senior in favor of reserve quarterback Nick Stephens.  This ignores the furor on the various chat boards.  This young man had to endure all of this while still trying to work toward winning games.  To Lane Kiffin’s credit, he stuck to his guns and was proven to have made a smart decision when Crompton had his coming out party against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Jonathan Crompton has played under four different offensive systems, and has had to re-learn everything throughout his entire time at Tennessee.  Yet, rather than complain or just give up, Crompton stuck it out despite his doubters.  He kept working, kept trying, kept pushing to be better.  Even though it probably took him a bit longer than he wished it had, he finally found that success that had so eluded him.  What’s more, in the process of attaining his goal, he gave the new era of Tennessee Football a fighting chance for respectability in its first year.

Despite his successes this season, it is doubtful that Jonathan Crompton will ever be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks to wear the orange.  With names like Peyton Manning, Andy Kelly, and Heath Shuler in the lineage, that is understandable.  Still, in many ways, Crompton has shown more determination, more perseverance, and more heart than any Tennessee quarterback in the modern era.

I think that means something.

Thus, I encourage all of you to not only join the Facebook group honoring Crompton’s contribution to Tennessee Football, but to also maybe do a little something on your own this Saturday as he makes his final Vol Walk toward Neyland Stadium—maybe a sign, maybe a salute, maybe a kind word.

In light of the events of the past week and the misdeeds of some of the Volunteers, I think Crompton’s type of dedication and sacrifice stands out all the more.

All I can do is to say that I am proud that Crompton wore the orange…

– So it goes…About Lawvol

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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From the Ashes Rises a Phoenix: Western Kentucky Postgame Thoughts

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

Western Kentucky vs. Tennessee
Postgame


7

Toppers
1
2
3
4
Tot

WKU

0
0
7
0

7

Tennessee

0
28
7
28

63

Final

63

Vols

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
6
40
Rushing
3
23
Passing
2
16
Penalty
1
1
3rd Down Efficiency
1-for-11, 9%
7-for-9, 78%
4th down efficiency
0-for-1, 0%
0-for-1, 0%
Rushes-Yards
29-27
44-383
Passing Yards
66
274
Return Yards
178
97
Completions-Attempts-Int
10-17-1
25-32-2
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-25
0-0
Punts
9
0
Fumbles Lost
2-2
2-1
Penalties – Yards
9-82
6-45
TOTAL NET YARDS
189
710

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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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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2009 Vols Football Roster

The 2009 Vols Football Squad

All data and information courtesy of UT Sports.com
Navigation: Coaching StaffAssistant Coaches2009 Alphabetical RosterThe TennesseeumReturn to Top

football bullet Coaching Staff

Name Title
Lane Kiffin Head Coach
Ed Orgeron Assistant. Head Coach • Recruiting Coordinator • Defensive Line Coach
Monte Kiffin Defensive Coordinator
Jim Chaney Offensive Coordinator • Tight Ends

football bullet Assistant Coaches

Name Title Name Title
James Cregg Offensive Line Willie Mack Garza Defensive Backs
Eddie Gran Running Backs • Special Teams David Reaves Quarterbacks
Lance Thompson Linebackers Frank Wilson Wide Receivers

football bullet 2009 Alphabetical Roster

No.
Name
Pos.
Ht.
Wt.
Yr.
Exp.
Hometown (Prev School)
36
Anthony Anderson
DB
6-1
179
So.
Sq.
Knoxville (Austin-East)
60
Carson Anderson
C
6-2
267
Fr.
RS
Florence, Ala. (Florence)
47
Jerod Askew
LB
6-1
230
Fr.
HS
Chesapeake, Va. (Oscar Smith HS)
39
Ben Bartholomew
TE
6-2
250
So.
1L
Nashville (Montgomery Bell Academy)
14
Eric Berry
DB
5-11
203
Jr.
2L
Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside)
86
Willie Bohannon
DE
6-2
230
Fr.
RS
Mobile, Ala. (Blount)
63
Minor Bowens
OL
6-3
293
Jr.
Tr.
Memphis (Tennessee State Univ.)
54
William Brimfield
OT
6-5
346
So.
Sq.
Norway, S.C. (Hunter-Kinard-Tyler)
11
Bryce Brown
RB
6-0
215
Fr.
HS
Wichita, Kan. (Wichita East HS)
94
Wes Brown
DT
6-4
257
Sr.
3L
Athens, Ala. (Athens)
11
Todd Campbell
WR
6-0
186
So.
Sq.
Nashville (Franklin)
9
Bram Cannon
QB/H
6-2
195
Sr.
1L
Memphis (Briarcrest)
45
Kevin Cooper
FB
6-0
247
Jr.
1L
Chattanooga (Baylor)
80
Jeff Cottam
TE
6-8
260
Sr.
3L
Germantown (Germantown)
Geoff Courtney
WR/H
6-1
180
Jr.
Sq.
Knoxville (Farragut)
53
Morgan Cox
DS
6-4
226
Sr.
2L
Collierville (Evangelical Christian
8
Jonathan Crompton
QB
6-4
228
Sr.
3L
Waynesville, N.C. (Tuscola)
96
Chad Cunningham
P/PK
6-3
198
Jr.
2L
Dawsonville, Ga. (Dawson County)
Albert Davies
DB
5-10
200
Jr.
Tr.
Charlotte, N.C., (Middle Tennessee State)
19
Chris Donald
LB
6-1
224
So.
Sq.
Huntingdon (Huntingdon)
78
Aaron Douglas
OT
6-6
282
Fr.
RS
Maryville (Maryville)
23
Sam Edgmon
FB
6-1
220
So.
Sq.
Pulaski (Giles County)
20
Mike Edwards
DB
5-10
170
Fr.
HS
Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville Academic Campus)
15
Cory Eichholtz
DB
5-8
180
Fr.
Sq.
Knoxville (Bearden)
25
Art Evans
DB
6-1
173
So.
1L
Lakeland, Fla. (Evangel Christian)
38
C.J. Fleming
DB
5-10
173
So.
Sq.
Richmond, Va. (Highland Springs)
90
Steven Fowlkes
DE
6-4
229
Fr.
RS
College Park, Ga. (Banneker)
43
Savion Frazier
LB
6-2
221
Jr.
2L
Woodbridge, Va. (Gar-Field)
6
Derrick Furlow
DB
6-1
190
Sr.
Sq.
Atlanta, Ga. (Crossett [Ark.])
24
Eric Gordon
DB
5-10
187
Fr.
HS
Nashville (Hillsboro HS)
81
James Green
WR
6-3
195
Fr.
HS
Tallahassee, Fla. (Leon HS)
59
Nick Guess
DS
6-3
208
So.
Sq.
Knoxville (Farragut)
87
Quintin Hancock
WR
6-3
207
Sr.
2L
St. Augustine, Fla. (St. Augustine)
2
Montario Hardesty
RB
6-0
215
Sr.
3L
New Bern, N.C. (New Bern)
64
Jonny Harrison
OL
6-2
235
Sr.
Sq.
Vienna, Va. (Catholic Univ.)
44
Josh Hawkins
LB
6-1
223
So.
Sq.
Loudon (Loudon)
25
Steven Hensley
WR
5-10
185
Sr.
Sq.
Coalfield (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
89
Daniel Hood
OL
6-5
255
Fr.
HS
Knoxville (Catholic HS)
93
Montori Hughes
DT
6-4
312
Fr.
HS
Murfreesboro (Siegel HS)
10
Ethan Ingham
PK
6-0
195
Fr.
Sq.
Portland (Gallatin)
15
Janzen Jackson
DB
6-0
180
Fr.
HS
Lake Charles, La. (Barbe HS)
95
Arthur Jeffery
DL
6-4
285
Fr.
HS
Sarasota, Fla. (Booker HS)
Grant Jessen
LB
6-0
210
Fr.
Sq.
Cordova (St. George’s)
Jeremy Jester
TE
6-3
235
Fr.
Sq.
Sevierville (Hargrave Military Acad.)
40
Austin Johnson
FB
6-2
234
So.
1L
Hickory, N.C. (Hickory)
31
Marsalous Johnson
DB
5-9
184
Sr.
3L
Smyrna (Smyrna)
4
Gerald Jones
WR
6-0
199
Jr.
2L
Oklahoma City, Okla. (Millwood)
83
Charles Karlosky
DL
6-3
220
Jr.
Tr.
Cookeville (Tennessee Tech)
47
Greg King
LB
6-3
205
Fr.
HS
Memphis (Melrose HS)
Nick Lamaison
QB
6-1
210
Jr.
JC
Walnut, Calif. (Mt. San Antonio [CA] College)
34
Herman Lathers
LB
6-1
213
Fr.
RS
Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville)
Ben Lehning
TE
6-0
230
So.
Sq.
Nashville (David Lipscomb)
26
Daniel Lincoln
PK
6-0
203
Jr.
2L
Ocala, Fla. (Forest)
99
Ben Martin
DE
6-3
239
Jr.
2L
Cincinnati, Ohio (La Salle)
46
Andre Mathis
DT
6-2
280
Sr.
2L
Erie, Pa. (Cathedral Prep)
3
Darren Myles, Jr.
S
6-2
190
Fr.
HS
Atlanta, Ga. (Carver HS)
65
Jacques McClendon
OG
6-3
324
Sr.
3L
Cleveland (The Baylor School)
5
Rico McCoy
LB
6-1
220
Sr.
3L
Washington, D.C. (St. John’s College HS)
50
Josh McNeil
C
6-4
280
Sr.
3L
Collins, Miss. (Collins)
37
Nigel Mitchell-Thornton
LB
6-0
229
Fr.
HS
Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson HS)
6
Denarius Moore
WR
6-1
190
Jr.
2L
Tatum, Texas (Tatum)
Jon Morrison
DE
6-2
255
So.
Sq.
Knoxville (Farragut)
97
Chase Nelson
DT
6-4
292
Jr.
Sq.
Tulsa, Okla. (Union)
97
Robert Nelson
LB
6-0
205
Fr.
HS
Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stone Mountain HS)
Michael Odell
WR
6-0
211
So.
Sq.
Kodiak, Alaska (Kodiak)
27
David Oku
RB
5-10
186
Fr.
HS
Midwest City, Okla. (Carl Albert HS)
30
Nyshier Oliver
ATH
5-10
180
Fr.
HS
Jersey City, NJ (Saint Peter’s Prep)
28
Tauren Poole
RB
5-10
203
So.
1L
Toccoa, Ga. (Stephens County)
77
Cody Pope
OG
6-6
288
So.
Sq.
Julian, Calif. (Cathedral Catholic)
29
Stephaun Raines
DB
5-10
179
So.
Sq.
Dalton, Ga. (Coffeyville [Kan.] CC)
56
Nick Reveiz
LB
5-10
220
Jr.
2L
Farragut (Farragut)
45
Shane Reveiz
LB
5-11
210
So.
Sq.
Farragut (Farragut)
83
Kevin Revis
OL
6-4
265
Fr.
HS
Evansville (Rhea County HS)
47
Chip Rhome
P
6-3
200
So.
Tr.
Christiana (Austin Peay State Univ.)
51
Vladimir Richard
OL
6-4
300
Sr.
2L
Sunrise, Fla. (Piper)
7
Nu’Keese Richardson
WR
5-10
165
Fr.
HS
Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee HS)
41
Dennis Rogan
DB
5-10
178
Jr.
2L
Knoxville (Fulton)
21
Austin Rogers
WR
6-2
190
Sr.
3L
Nashville (David Lipscomb)
83
Zach Rogers
WR
6-2
170
Fr.
HS
Nashville (David Lipscomb HS)
79
Chris Scott
OT
6-5
346
Sr.
3L
Riverdale, Ga. (Lovejoy)
74
Jarrod Shaw
OG
6-4
332
Jr.
1L
Lafayette, La. (Northside)
75
JerQuari Schofield
OL
6-6
315
Fr.
HS
Aiken, S.C. (South Aiken HS)
17
Nick Stephens
QB
6-4
227
Jr.
1L
Flower Mound, Texas (Flower Mound)
88
Luke Stocker
TE
6-6
240
Jr.
2L
Berea, Ky. (Madison Southern)
40
Jake Storey
LB
5-11
218
So.
Sq.
Titusville, Fla. (Astronaut)
66
Cody Sullins
C
6-1
260
Sr.
2L
Cottontown (White House)
69
Cory Sullins
OL
6-1
270
Sr.
1L
Cottontown (White House)
98
Rae Sykes
DE
6-2
255
So.
JC
Alcoa (Alcoa HS/Coffeyville CC)
10
Marsalis Teague
ATH
5-10
180
Fr.
HS
Paris (Henry County HS)
71
Dallas Thomas
OT
6-5
268
Fr.
RS
Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville)
52
Victor Thomas
DT
6-4
286
Jr.
1L
Olive Branch, Miss. (Olive Branch)
42
LaMarcus Thompson
LB
6-1
221
Jr.
2L
Lithonia, Ga. (Redan HS)
9
Daryl Vereen
LB
6-0
213
So.
1L
Charlotte, N.C. (North Mecklenburg)
13
Brent Vinson
DB
6-0
201
Jr.
2L
Hampton, Va. (Hargrave Military)
23
Prentiss Waggner
DB
6-2
177
Fr.
RS
Clinton, La. (Clinton)
84
Chris Walker
DE
6-3
232
Jr.
2L
Memphis (Christian Brothers)
58
Marlon Walls
DL
6-2
225
Fr.
HS
Olive Branch, Miss. (/Hargrave Military Academy)
1
Brandon Warren
WR
6-2
216
Jr.
1L
Alcoa (Florida State Univ.)
Matt Wegzyn
TE
6-3
230
Fr.
Sq.
Northville, Mich. (Northville)
22
Rod Wilks
DB
6-0
220
Fr.
RS
Smyrna (Smyrna)
55
Dan Williams
DT
6-3
327
Sr.
2L
Memphis (Memphis East)
57
Gerald Williams
DE
6-4
248
Jr.
1L
Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. (City Col. of San Fran.)
33
Toney Williams
TB
6-0
218
Fr.
HS
Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton HS)
Tyler Wolf
DB
6-0
200
Jr.
Sq.
Cookeville (Cookeville)

Navigation: Coaching StaffAssistant Coaches2009 Alphabetical RosterThe TennesseeumReturn to Top

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


Well That Was Fun…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Nice Win, Now on to Bammer

This low expectations thing is working.

When you have low expectations and you lose, it’s not really a big deal. When you have low expectations and you beat an SEC team 34-3 at home at night, it’s actually kinda fun.

I know Tennessee is 3-4. I know Tennessee didn’t win an SEC game til Saturday night. I know our two rivals have brushed the Vols off with relative ease, and our third is coming in ranked #2 in the country. So I definitely decided to enjoy the win over Mississippi State Saturday night in Neyland Stadium.

I know I was really negative last week, but I never really felt like Tennessee was going to lose. Does that mean I think the Vols beat Alabama Saturday night, or even keep it close? Not really. But, hey, a win’s a win. And in a season where getting six of them might not be a given, why not enjoy the ones you get?

See, told you I was a positive guy…

Please keep feeding #3...

The offense still isn’t very good. Was there improvement Saturday night? I would say slight, if for nothing else that Lennon Creer basically was the last TD drive for Tennessee and led the team in rushing. Nick Stephens continues to do two things well: (a) not throw INTs and (b) hit the deep ball to Denarius Moore. With Gerald Jones‘ ankle up in the air, Moore could become an even more important part of the offense.

This team continues to play hard, despite the rough times and empty seats. Sitting in the fourth row, I can see the team’s attitude starting the game, and they came out ready and played hard. There were also no turnovers and no penalties Saturday night – that in itself is improvement.

The defense played very well Saturday night. Mississippi State’s is obviously really bad. But there is slight hope, as outside of Alabama – and the Tide aren’t exactly a Big XII offense by any means – the rest of the schedule is slight on offensive powerhouses. State QB Tyson Lee is probably still (a) sore from being hit often and (b) tired from running around for his life quite a bit.

The best part of the night was easily Eric Berry‘s pick six, and Demetrice Morley‘s answer. Berry is a special, special talent, and that’s still not doing him due justice. It’s his third straight week with a pick, and after coming terribly close to taking them all the way back, he finally got one. I recorded it originally on the JumboTron replay, but managed to get the TV replay’s version later. It’s now on YouTube (from me) and here it is:

YouTube Preview Image

I’m hoping Berry keeps giving me these opportunities to put up videos of his awesomeness each week. If Tennessee was going to lose every game, I would still want to watch it, just to see Berry make something exciting happen. With the uncertainty with Gerald Jones’ status, why not try EB out on offense. What does Tennessee have to lose?

Oh, so Tennessee does have a deep threat?

So while that was fun, the reality is this next weekend can make/break the salvaging of the season. Let me put it this way…

I want to ruin Alabama’s season.

I hinted last week that beating Alabama was basically the only really exciting thing to look forward to the rest of the year. This is the truth. Beating Alabama would be sweet. Should be expect it? I don’t know. The Tide have played excellent in big games this year (Clemson, Georgia) but more ordinary in games against Ole Miss and Kentucky.

Front row AGAIN!

Ironically enough, the student tickets for the Alabama game are black. Black usually symbolizes death. Will Saturday night be the death of the Tennessee program? Could it be a potentially embarrassing home loss to our long-time hated rival?

Low expectations have worked well so far. That’s all I’m saying.

I’ll have more on this game this week, including my Five Reasons I Hate Alabama. I’m incredibly excited it’s a night game, and I hope the atmosphere is as if Tennessee was also undefeated. I don’t give a you-know-what how badly you want Coach Fulmer gone (I do too, remember) – who wants to lose to Alabama? Why wouldn’t you want to be their first loss?

My challenge: think all week long about how much you hate Alabama. Think why, how, all that. If that doesn’t work, then there’s something wrong with you.


Images Courtesy of: Wade Payne / AP (Daylife)Wade Payne / AP (Daylife)
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