Posts Tagged ‘Peyton Manning’

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

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 4

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Vol Junkies

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Vol Junkies, who has served up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the citizens of Orange Nation.

Thus, here are our thoughts for the week:

Week 4

1) What is your thought on Eric Berry’s Heisman chances?  Should he play on offense in-order to increase his chances?  Is Kiffin being to selfish saying Berry will not practice offense?

bullet HSH: I’m not exactly how real Berry’s chances of actually winning the Trophy—which I deemed meaningless after the Manning debacle.  Not only does he have the obstacle of being a defensive player, he has to basically beat Colt McCoy from Texas, Sam Bradford from Oklahoma and some guy named Tebow.  I don’t think Lane Kiffin should play Berry on offense just to help his Heisman chances.  If our offense is seriously sucking, then sure, desperate times call for desperate measures.

That said, I have absolutely no problem with the University doing the whole campaign thing.  Berry is obviously a special, once-in-a-while player with a great attitude.  Seeing him in person on and off the field the past two years has been something I’m glad to have been a part of—now if only he might consider staying for his senior year…


bullet Lawvol: I have very mixed (albeit not necessarily negative) feelings on this.

First of all, I personally believe that Eric Berry is more than deserving of a shot at the Heisman Trophy.  In two short years he has pretty much become the man-beast of SEC defenses and is, hands down, the best defensive player in the toughest conference in the country.  I personally believe that he is the best defensive player in any conference, anywhere.  That, however, is just my opinion and I will be the first to admit that I am biased.  Still, there is no arguing with the fact that Eric Berry has earned the right to be considered among the top players in the country this season and to be considered for the Heisman.  I am unequivocally behind the Tennessee’s campaign to promote Berry’s Heisman candidacy.

That said, I am less that optimistic about his chances…

I say that because, since only one truly defensive player has previously won the Heisman—which I am sure every Tennessee fan remembers all too well—the precedent is somewhat weak.  Furthermore, given the national media’s love affair with Tim Tebow, I expect that every possible machination that can occur to ensure Tebow winning the trophy for the second time will be brought to bear, if at all possible.

There is also the fact that exaggerated hype often leads to less-than-stellar performances since, with everyone talking about how great a particular player is, the target on their back gets even bigger when facing opponents.  That is not to say that I doubt Berry’s ability to produce in the same way he has in the past, but recognizes that opposing teams will be gunning for him … and staying away from him.

Read the rest of this entry

Flashback: The Great Games — Kentucky 1997

The Great Games | Gate21.net

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…

Read the rest of this entry

The Sweetness

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

To many of you and to many Vols fans, Saturday afternoon is just another basketball game. Sure it’s a big one: national TV, against a cross-state rival who’s reloading after nearly winning a national title last season with a coach who’s easy to dislike. But for me, it’s different. It’s the Memphis game. Probably the single game I want to win this season.

So why is Saturday afternoon not just another Tennessee basketball game, you ask? What is the big deal with Memphis? Well for one, as you may know I’m from the great city of Memphis. I grew up in the Memphis/Shelby County area and have been around that university and athletic program and their fans my entire life. That’s the easy answer.

But it’s more than that. Sure, I could now go into my reasons for really really not liking the Tigers (and almost did), but they don’t get a post like Alabama did. You see, Memphis (the university) and I have a history. We go way back. To 1996…

Read the rest of this entry

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)

Remembering the “Tee” from Tennessee

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Tee Martin vs. Florida State

Tee Martin vs. Florida State

This Saturday, the University of Tennessee will kickoff its celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Vols’ 1998 National Championship. As part of that celebration, immediately prior to this week’s game against UAB, the Tennessee Volunteers will honor the first in a series of former Vol footballers who played a role in that championship — quarterback Tee Martin.

Martin was truly one of the unsung heroes of the 1998 squd, who deserves far more credit than he ever received. I found a really great piece by Marvin West which looks at all of the comparisons that were made between Martin and Peyton Manning, which concludes that Martin deserves all the praise he gets this weekend. West writes:

Peyton was the quintessential quarterback, a genuine thoroughbred, great arm, marvelous reads and checks, flawless form. If you look up quarterback in my dictionary, Manning’s mug shot is the illustration.

Tee was just a winner. He wasn’t a perfect passer. He was a fine leader but never glorified as a great strategist or field general. What he did was good enough. Effective.

His ring says national champion.

I sincerely hope that all the Vol-faithful will show up to Neyland Stadium a few minutes early, take a moment to remember the “lunch-bucket brigade” that was the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers, and send a big thank you to one of the great players who made the magic of that season possible.

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


Image Courtesy of: AthlonSports.com
Marvin West writes for the Knoxville Shopper-News and is the author of “Legends of the Tennessee Vols

Big Orange Roundtable: Week 7

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by: Fulmer’s Belly

The Off-Season is a Conspiracy

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Fulmer’s Belly who has offered questions of real substance — questions which seek insight and analysis.  That pretty much means I’ll be bringing up the rear.  Thus, it would probably be best if you just skipped my responses and clicked on the links to the other roundtablers below.

If you are nonetheless determined to waste your time reading my prattling — losing moments of your life, your lunch, and perhaps your will to live — here are my thoughts for the week

Week 7

(Questions in Sort-o-Teal-like color)

1)  Knock on wood before answering this question, but let’s assume that Jonathan Crompton goes out with a season ending injury in the 1st half of the first game of the season. Should we just pack it up and wait until next season, or is there a glimmer of hope in any of the young backups?

First of all, I don’t want to hear any more of this Communist “injury” talk.  I’m having questions about your loyalty …

That said, assuming the awful were to happen, I agree with the collective brain trust, that losing a single player does not mean that it is time to give up on the 2008 season.  Even the loss of a quarterback doesn’t necessarily spell disaster.

Peyton Manning If you remember, back in 1994 the Vols lost starting senior quarterback Jerry Colquitt on the seventh play of the season versus UCLA.  The only other quarterbacks on the squad that year were two true freshmen — Branndon Stewart and some guy named Manning.

Of course, despite his stellar career at Tennessee, even Peyton only managed a 8-4 (SEC 5-3) season.  Still, there was a lot of fight left in the 1994 Vols after the loss of Colquitt.

Similarly, we wouldn’t currently have any idea what Jonathan Crompton is capable of had it not been for him standing in for Erik Ainge during the 2006 season.

I feel certain that the Vols would manage to finish strong and do everyone proud without Crompton, after all — on paper — neither B.J. Coleman nor Nick Stephens are exactly slouches.  Furthermore, unlike Manning in 1994, both have had some time to actually learn the offense.

Bearing all of that in mind, I think the loss of Crompton early in the season would likely result in losses at both Florida and Auburn simply due to the need for the new quarterback to get up to speed.

So, I guess my answer is that the Vols would be “okay” but would probably not put up numbers for the record book.

2)  Does Erik Ainge have a future in the NFL?

With no disrespect to Ainge, I have never really seen him as a successful NFL quarterback.  I simply don’t think that Ainge has the flexibility that a quarterback is required to demonstrate to combat the defenses of the NFL.  He is a reasonably solid pocket passer, but has limited mobility — which is not necessarily a killer with most teams in the NFL.  He does, however, have the good sense to get rid of the ball when there is no one to throw to — a fact borne out by the NCAA record of only 4 sacks over the course of the season.

In the end, after getting injured versus Notre Dame, Ainge never really seemed to have the spark that made him seem so great during his freshman year.  After that point, Ainge seemed to be a basically an average above-average quarterback.  He was efficient, he was capable, he was reliable — he was not exceptional.  Unfortunately, that exceptional ability is usually required to compete in NFL.

3)  Why in the hell did you decide to blog about Tennessee football?  Aren’t there already enough Tennessee blogs?

Well, that’s a tough question to answer considering that I more or less started the Gate on a whim.  I had previously tried a little blogging on other more “serious” topics, but none of those ever amounted to anything because they required intelligent thought and at least a limited amount of skill.  Thus, I started this little project mainly because I figured it would be a good way to waste time, besides it was cheaper than drugs.

As for why I blog about Tennessee?  Well, the reality is that Tennessee is the only team I really follow in any meaningful way.  I also live in the bowels of ACC country, which is … well … sickening, and blogging about Tennessee and the SEC helps control the nausea.

I suppose I could start a blog on animal husbandry, navel lint, or really stupid things I’ve done in life.  I suppose I could even write one of those “life blogs” where I tell the entire world about my daily life, but I am really a boring person and who the hell really cares how many times I went to the bathroom today and all of the people I’d like to kill.

I have no intention of ever trying to be a “stats” guy because I can barely add — that is why I am a lawyer.  I also have no desire to try and be a “traditional” sports writer.  First of all, I live nearly seven hours from the home of the team I write about, which makes it a little difficult for me to actually report on a game I didn’t even attend.  Besides that’s what all the mainstream media types already have a near monopoly on.  Thus, all I can really do is offer my own peculiar observations on the world of sports from an orange-tinted perspective and make fun of the more humorous side of the sports world.

Oh, and when I can’t think of anything worth writing, I’ve found that posting juvenile, semi-offensive, poorly doctored, photos will often suffice.

On a personal note, if I had a chance to breathe lately, at least I would have been able to post a little something of substance every now and then.  I really hate it when my job interferes with my asinine hobbies.  That part is frustrating — almost as frustrating as Tennessee’s 2005 football season … but not quite.  I suppose in the perfect world I’d be able to spend all my days writing for this rag so everyone could ignore it.

In the end, I suppose the main reason I write is because I am a lawyer and, by default, a blowhard who likes to hear himself talk (or write as the case may be).  I guess I write about sports because I really lack any real ability to write about anything of real substance.  It’s funny, I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’m still not sure what I am doing.

I’m sure both of my readers would agree …

4)  If you could be one player in one game in Tennessee history, which player and which game would you pick?  Why?

This is a tough one.  There are so many great choices which would be on my short-list.  Here are a few (in no particular order)

George Bad News Cafego
  • Dale Jones vs. Miami — 1985
  • Condredge Holloway vs. Clemson — 1974
  • Peyton Manning vs. Alabama — 1995
  • Al Wilson vs. Florida — 1998
  • Peerless Price vs. Florida State — 1998
  • Heath Shuler vs. Florida — 1992
  • George Cafego vs. Anybody — 1938/39

These are but a few — this one is just too tough to call.

5)  Which is your favorite rivalry and why? (Not necessarily limited to Tennessee teams)?

Well, I pretty much said it all about this one a few weeks back when it comes to Tennessee rivalries.

I hate to lose to Alabama, I absolutely loathe Florida.

For me, the key to a true rivalry is respect.  I have no respect for Florida, so — predictably — it’s Bama for me.

In terms of other rivalries … umm … I would probably list the following:

  • The Chicago Cubs vs. Cold Hard Reality;
  • The Philadelphia Eagles vs. The Eagles Hoodlums Fans;
  • The People of the State of Florida vs. All Current and Former Members of the University of Miami Football Team, and John Doe, co-conspirator, et. al, Criminal Docket No. 07 CVS…;
  • Ron Artest vs. the Crowd.

Yeah, I know, not much in terms of effort on my part…

Bonus)  Who will win the national title this year? And by how many points will Tennessee win?

Two answers — my hope, and my head:

  • Hope:  Tennessee 28 – USC 14
  • Head:  Florida 21 – Clemson (Yeah that’s right, Clemson) 10

The Rest of the Roundtable:

Having wasted your time on my largely meaningless and insignificant thoughts for this week, go check out what the other roundtablers (who actually know what they are talking about) have to say (in no particular order):

Well, now wasn’t that fun…

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


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