Posts Tagged ‘Wyoming Cowboys’

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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Remembering John Ward: Ten years since “Give Him Six!”

Tennessee Football Regardless of how things turn out for the Tennessee Volunteers this fall, the 2009 season represents so very many milestones—it really isn’t even worth the trouble to try and count them all.  There has been so much change lately and so very many new looks and faces that everything seems as if it is in flux.  Some feel this near c-change is long overdue, others decry it as a loss of tradition, others still reserve judgments and simply point to the inevitable movement of the hands of time.  Still, no matter how great the changes may be, the echoes of years gone by still ring in the air around Neyland Stadium.  Thankfully, this will never change.

Vol Network In addition to all of the “obvious” landmark events that have or will occur as part of the 2009 football season, there is one more that may go unnoticed by many.  Though it hardly seems possible, the 2009 season marks Bob Kesling’s tenth year as the “Voice of the Vols.” Since the kickoff of the 1999 football opener against the Wyoming Cowboys, Kesling along with color-commentator Tim Priest, and sideline reporter Mike Stowell (who succeeded Jeff Francis in 2007), have brought the sounds of Big Orange football into our homes via the “Statewide Stadium” that is the Vol Network.

As have I pointed out in previous posts, since I was a child, I have always been a dedicated fan of live sports radio broadcasts.  I learned at an early age that television broadcasters, no matter how good they may be, simply cannot match the style, flair, color, or excitement that a gifted radio sportscaster can bring to a game.  There are few on television that come close—Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried being pretty much the best—but even they cannot quite stay in step with the great radio broadcasters of the game.  Of course, for every Franklin and Gottfried, there are a bevy of lackluster talking suits which do little more than get in the way of the game rather than actually improving your understanding of what is taking place.

Thus is the curse of television…

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Peace Out, 2008

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

A List of Reminiscing…

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, the final day of 2008. Yes, I know, I’m asking “Already?!?” just you like may be doing. It seems like last month I was standing in Times Square in NYC for nine hours (without any food, drinks, or bathroom breaks) with five of my friends ringing in 2008. But here it is, the start of another year is less than 24 hours away.

My new logo

Now hopefully you have yet to bail on me because of that terribly mushy opening, and if you have I thank you. I’ll get to my little list of what I’ll most remember from the past year in sports in a minute, but first I need to say that I began this whole blogging thing back in June, when the looming monster of summer school was at my doorstep. When I started, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be blogging or any of that. I really enjoyed it at first, mostly the posts following the NBA Finals games and my amateur, yet rather extensive, coverage of the Rocky Top Summer League (yes, I skipped studying for tests and doing schoolwork to do those). However, at first I underestimated how much work blogging actually can be.

So when lawvol approached me (figuratively) about joining forces with him, it was a no-brainer. I have enjoyed writing here at the Gate and I just want to give some props to lawvol for having me on here and for helping me when I bug him about the simplest of issues. And of course thank you to yourselves, the readers (if you’re still actually reading this). Who knows if my blogging will actually help the journalism career I’m hoping for/working towards/trying to gain experience for, but I’ve certainly enjoyed it and I’m glad I decided to begin with it.

OK, enough of those little bits of business, now onto this little list. This will be a little different than the other two I’ve done, as in I’m writing this, I’m not limiting myself to what pops into my mind when I think back of the past year in sports. I was able to narrow my hatred for Alabama down to five and the hope of the Vols’ hoops season to 10, but this is a whole year we’re talking here. I’ll try to keep it as short as I can. Anyways, here goes…

Thanks Coach

1) Good-bye and thank you Coach Fulmer: Well duh. The only Tennessee football coach I’ve pretty much ever known fell victim to a failed replacement of David Cutcliffe and the second losing season in the last four years. It’s been the toughest year as a Tennessee fan I have been a part of by far, but it ended very sweet with the home win over Kentucky.


2) Hello, Lane Kiffin: Fulmer’s replacement has me excited, and I know I ain’t the only one. Some are skeptical, but the Blackjack General (kudos, lawvol) has the fire that I think this program needs. He and his staff have plenty of work to do to return to the level of competing with Florida and the growing empire in Tuscaloosa, but so far, so good…


3) Being #1 for less than two days is still better than never being #1…: This goes way back to February, and the 66-62 #2-over-#1 win by Tennessee at Memphis. I had to cover/get audio for this game for the radio station sports show I was involved in last spring, and it was just fun to watch and see in person. That, and being in the middle of the aftermath right outside the locker room and on the FedEx Forum floor trying to be “professional” is undoubtedly a highlight of this past year.

4) 2008 SEC basketball champs: Need anything else be said? And to do it in Gainesville after getting blitzed in the first half was icing. I also covered that last home game against Carolina, so watching the whole net-cutting and t-shirt deal was a highlight.

5) Fan apathy: Honestly, this was probably the biggest factor to Fulmer’s firing. I have made my thoughts on the student attendance and the whole paying for tickets well known through this site (try this). This video (I wouldn’t dare actually post it) was the lowest point for me as a Tennessee fan in my life. I must admit, I left well before it, but I didn’t want to be a apart of that. I commend you if you did…

Thanks Chris and JaJuan

6) Chris Lofton: Seeing this guy get to play in person for two years was a treat. Talk about a role model, he had cancer, didn’t tell anyone for completely unselfish purposes, and still had a pretty good season and was an integral part of the SEC Title run for the Vols. I have his #5 jersey on my wall of my room in my apartment, and it will be hanging in TBA’s rafters soon enough.

7) JaJuan Smith, too: Walk-on to nearly making the Mavericks. The best part of watching Juanny the past two years of college was that he made it look so fun. From his rainbow threes to pestering defense and occasionaly bonehead turnover, I’ll never forget this guy and what he was to the Tennessee program.

Championship #8: I have to give Pat Summit and the Lady Vols some love. I never go to any of their games, but I do know they exist. That senior class dominated and Candace Parker, well, she’s just awesome.

9) Eric Berry: The dude is just a BAMF. My four years of college may be four of the worst in Tennessee history, but at least I got to see this guy play. Seriously, he was reason enough to watch as the awful 2008 season went down the toilet. His pick-six against Mississippi State might have been the craziest moment of the student section this past year (yeah, indicating how bad the season truly was…). List of guys he almost killed in 2008: Tyler Donovan, Taylor Embree, Knowshon Moreno, Marquis Maze, and that’s off the top of my head. If a team had 22 Eric Berrys, they would never lose. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll like playing in Monte Kiffin‘s defense enough to stay for his senior year…


10) Monte Kiffin: Sweet! Most respected defensive coordinator in the NFL? Yes please.

11) The Streak: Tennessee has now won 37 straight home games in Thompson-Boling Arena. A couple of teams nearly broke it (Ole Miss, Kentucky, Belmont), but it’s still going strong. I still have never left that arena having seen Tennessee lose. It was empty four years ago, now this streak. Could Gonzaga end it a week from tonight?

12) Construction: If you visited Knoxville this past year, you know what I mean. The stadium. Glocker. The Baker Center. Neyland. The TBA facelift. Lindsay Nelson. Heck, even I-40 has been closed since May…

13) Losses I witnessed in person: Louisville (Sweet 16 game in Charlotte), Florida, Auburn (nearly fell asleep in the third quarter), Alabama, Wyoming…

14) My love for the NBA: It gets a bad rap for the most part, but you can’t tell me you’re a true fan of the game of basketball and not like the NBA. Before this past season, I never really followed it other than the playoffs and the handful of Grizzlies games I saw in my high school days. Now, I just plain love it. These guys are ridiculous. I could watch LeBron James play every night. The Lakers-Celtics finals capped off an amazing playoffs and it’s shaking up to be a great season this year too.

15) Wyoming: I saw them beat Tennessee 13-7 in Knoxville. They were 1-7 in the Mountain West and fired their coach. Ouch…

16) UCLA: Kevin Craft is worse than me for Heisman! really wasn’t as good as we made him look. The beginning of the end…

17) This play:

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18) These dunks:

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19) Redeem Team Wins Gold: The highlight of the Beijing Olympics for me. Yes, I watched every minute of every one of their games. They were not going to be denied and watching these guys play together and with a serious sense of urgency was well worth it. Thank you, LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe, CP3, Bosh, Howard, Boozer, D-Will, Melo, Redd, Tayshaun, Coach K and staff.


20) The tornado that almost killed me: I’m getting lazy, so just click here. If you’re too lazy to do that, you’re worse than me I was in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Tournament when that tornado owned downtown Atlanta.

21) Michael Phelps: Second best part of the Olympics. The relay the U.S. stole from the trash-talking French and the race he won from nowhere had me up and yelling at the TV.

22) Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Emmanuel Negedu, Renaldo Woolridge: They’re only going to get better…

23) This NFL season: I don’t get too pumped about pro football other than for fantasy purposes, but this was a fun season to watch. It came down to the end and I can honestly justify about six teams going all the way. Miami went from 1-15 to the playoffs and nobody’s laughing at the Falcons now. And those drama queens in Dallas are watching it all…

24) Jerod Mayo: Any time a Vol gets drafted in the Top 10…and then dominates as a rookie, I’m pumped…

25) Shaun Ellis: This was just plain funny…

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26) Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince: Two transfers are huge parts of Tennessee hoops in 2008 and going forward. Thanks to Tyler for his clutch makes against Ole Miss and Memphis State. This year’s team is his team, and it took Prince hurting himself to make us see how important he is to this team.

27) The Olympics: Yeah, they were about all I watched for that two week stretch this summer.

28) VolQuest/Rivals: I can’t lie, I have spent countless hours procrastinating and wasting time on the message boards. If you have done it too, you know their addictive powers…

29) Jonathan Crompton: Well, there’s not much to say, but most of the Tennessee fanbase thinks he’s the worst QB to ever wear orange. Hell, he couldn’t even hand the ball off against Florida and Auburn. The Auburn game might have been the worst game ever played by a QB – my goodness was it ugly. When he entered the South Carolina after Nick Stephens threw an awful pick-six, ESPN showed his stats for the year – he had thrown for 666 yards. Yikes. Yet, that pass to Denarius Moore against Kentucky…reason for hope? I mean, he’s got an equal chance of starting next year as the other QBs Tennessee has. I’m just saying…

30) And finally, Mario Chalmers: Tiger High/John Calipari = EPIC FAIL…

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Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / KNSMichael Patrick /

Can We Just Forfeit?

The View From the Hill | Gate 21


I know, I know, forfeiting – what you might call quitting – is a bad thing. But after watching the most pitiful display of football last Saturday from my nice comfortable seats in the second row of the upper deck, I really wish it just be November 30 already and the end of this horribly difficult 2008 season.

Before I say anything else, I need to congratulate the Wyoming Cowboys for their win. They played hard and didn’t make mistakes. That’s what every underdog everywhere in every sport pretty much has to do to pull off an upset.

Congrats to Wyoming, but there is no way they should beat any Tennessee team

Here are some relevant stats for Wyoming: coming into Saturday, they were 3-6, 1-5 in the Mountain West. Good enough for a tie for seventh in the league, with UNLV. The week before they crushed San Diego State for their lone MWC win (and I joked that they would actually beat Tennessee when I saw they won this game rather easily). Head coach Joe Glenn was likely (and still may be) going to be out of a job at season’s end.

The three-headed monster making the MWC look like an underrated conference – Utah, TCU and BYU – beat the Cowboys 138-14. This team was the worst offensive team in the country coming into Saturday’s game.

And this team came into Neyland Stadium and beat Tennessee.

OK, I admit I laughed after the first fluky near pick-six. That play was so typical of our season. I wasn’t laughing after the second one. I wasn’t laughing after the incomplete passes on fourth downs late in the game.

But I was walking out, I really wasn’t all that mad. I really wasn’t even all that embarrassed. I bailed on caring about this season long ago. Does it suck when we look back in the near future and see Tennessee actually did lose to Wyoming? Well of course. But honestly, most people – myself very much included – care more about the coaching search than the Vandy and Kentucky games.

And we should be. Why? Because if the players are going to claim to go out there and play “all-out” for their fired coach, and they show what they showed last Saturday, why should we care? Look, many fans may have stopped watching awhile ago. I said I was gonna watch as long as the effort was there. It was clearly missing Saturday.

So I made the immediate decision (sometime around the middle of the fourth quarter) that I sure as hell won’t be coming up for Kentucky – and I’m not the only one I’m sure. Call me fair-weathered, whatever you want. I showed my support for Philip Fulmer. I gave him a pat on the shoulder and a “thanks coach” at the Vol Walk last week. If they’re going to respond by not showing up and losing to WYOMING, why should I still show my support?

Now I’m not saying the team owes me, the fan, anything. Well, showing some signs of caring would be nice. Let me put it this way, and keep in mind I’m not one to bash players: where was Arian Foster? “Thigh bruise?” Funny, Dan Williams, Ellix Wilson, Wes Brown and others haven’t seemed to be effected with playing through injuries.

To close out, people always talk about Tennessee being completely irrelevant. Well, there are ways to stay relevant, even at 3-6 with a lame-duck coach. One is losing to Wyoming. Other possibilities? Being Vanderbilt’s bowl-clinching, history-making, streak-breaking sixth win. Having the nation’s longest streak of ownage broken on your home field on the day to honor a coaching legend. Hello, 3-9…

Fortunately, hoops season starts Saturday night. I’ll have more on that and more on my choice for Tennessee’s next coach in the near future.

It is going to be nice to finally win something...

Oh don’t worry, it’s coming…

Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / GVXAmy Smotherman-Burgess / GVX

Blazer Chronicles: Episode 18

Well, the Tennessee Volunteers Football team has a week off to try and pull itself together after absolutely imploding versus the Wyoming Cowboys.  Meanwhile, the BasketVols and Lady Vols are getting ready to get things going, as their exhibition games come to a close.  Bearing all of that in mind, here’s Episode 18 of the Blazer Chronicles, courtesy of VolzRChamps.

The Blazer Chronicles: Episode 18

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

Videos Courtesy of: VolzRChamps / Blazer Chronicles

Blazer Chronicles: Wyoming Pre-Game Edition

What a week it has been for fans of the Big Orange…

Still, today the Wyoming Cowboys come into Neyland Stadium and Homecoming 2008. Thus, here’s the Wyoming Pre-game edition of the Blazer Chronicles, courtesy of VolzRChamps, with his thoughts on the game.

The Blazer Chronicles: Wyoming – Pre-Game Edition

Go Vols, Beat the Cowboys!

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

Videos Courtesy of: VolzRChamps / Blazer Chronicles

It Can Get Worse…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Still Six Games Left…

First, let me say that this post won’t be the most positive of posts. Not that I’m a Debbie Downer or anything like that, it’s just that it’s the nature of my thoughts of Tennessee football right now, and it’s a general feeling throughout the fanbase more than likely.

But to prove that I do have plenty of positive-ness in me, I’ll post Eric Berry‘s awesomeness from the Georgia game, that still make me a little happy despite the rough year. His pick and near 100+ yard TD return – how Matt Stafford tackles him I’ll never know – and the crushing hit on that punk Knowshon Moreno. Knowshon sure didn’t pop up after that run like he normally does…

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About that UGA game, my positive and negative selves were at war during the waning moments of Saturday’s loss. On the positive side, Nick Stephens played pretty well and the Vols weren’t completely embarrassed as I had feared, losing by just 12 points (indication of how sad things have gotten). However – and this was intensified when I saw the box score – my negative self pointed out how fortunate Tennessee was to even be that close.

You’ve seen the stats by now. Giving up nearly 500 yards on offense. Letting Stafford set his career passing yardage record. Letting Moreno go over 100 yards. The two most glaring, however, to me are the ONE rushing yard and the two-to-one ratio in TOP. When you don’t have the ball, you can’t score. Obviously. The Vols are just plain horrible on third downs on both sides of the ball. I learned yesterday (via the Sports Animal) that Tennessee’s defense has stopped opponents exactly once out of 14 times on third-and-short (less than two).

This drive, capped by the TD catch by Massaquoi, killed any momentum Tennessee had going into halftime

I would argue how competitive the Vols were Saturday. I won’t question the effort because it was there and Tennessee was in the game late in the third quarter, but it looked much less worse than it really was – and that’s the sad truth. Sadder still, our two SEC East rivals have seemingly disposed of the once-mighty Vols in a seemingly ho-hum manner on their ways to bigger and better seasons. The UGA fans didn’t even seem overly thrilled to be avenging two years of getting blown away. If that’s not an indication that change is necessary, I don’t know what is…

Now, Tennessee is in total salvage mode. When you’re 2-4 and your offense is hard to watch it’s so pathetic, you think it can’t get much worse, right? Looking at the schedule a couple months ago, the assumption was that the hardest part is over and done with. Now, and as much as it kills me to admit this and I’ll probably get blasted for this, going winless in the SEC isn’t out of the realm of possibility here. Lawvol mentioned it yesterday, that 3-9 isn’t out of the equation.

The best news is that outside of Alabama, the remainder of Tennessee’s opponents are nearly as offensively-changed as the Vols are, which means, if nothing else, that those of us going down with this ship are going to witness some ugly football games.

The total offense ranks for each of the last six Tennessee opponents: Mississippi State is 103rd, Alabama is 52nd, South Carolina is 74th, turnover-friendly (try 27 of them) Wyoming is 116th, Vanderbilt is 117th, and Kentucky is 96th.

Am I saying our defense will dominate? Nope. I’m saying that if pain is still apart of you’re being a Tennessee fan – and no matter how much you’ve told yourself you’re “apathetic” and “don’t care,” there’s still ZERo fun in watching Tennessee lose – then the potential for more of it these next three months.

Is Tennessee next?

Mississippi State (HT to Curveball For Jesus for the pic), an assumed win for me even this time last week, is a toss-up. The Bulldogs have played LSU at LSU tough and beaten Vanderbilt their last two games. They have a stout defense that will frustrate our awful offense. The yearly wins over Vandy and UK are the same way – not givens. Both of those would be much worse than losing even to Mississippi State. As bad as we are, I would at least hope beating these three teams wouldn’t be too impossible, but it’s not what it used to be.

As much as I’ve hated on South Carolina here recently, the Chickens are playing well, despite an ever-changing QB situation. How does Tennessee score on Carolina in Columbia? I have no idea. All Vol fans hate losing to Steve Spurrier.

All of these pale in comparison with what may occur in Neyland Stadium next Saturday when Alabama visits. The Tide – with a win over Ole Miss at home this week and a Texas loss at home to Missouri – could come in with a #1 ranking. I’m probably going to have nightmares about the potential result next week. The Tide ran over Clemson absolutely pushed Georgia around in their meeting – and Georgia just ran another toss sweep for six yards on Tennessee…

With no running game and iffy pass protection, Nick Stephens has actually played pretty well

The point is, as bad as the first month-and-a-half have been for us Tennessee fans, it could still get much much worse. It always does before it gets better. This seems terribly obvious, doesn’t it? For me at least, I’m bracing for a even rougher final month-and-a-half.

Even any win outside of Alabama – ruining their dream season would be wonderful – and perhaps South Carolina wouldn’t even be that much to get fired up about. So now the question for us fans arises, what’s the point?

I’ll be at the home games and I might even make the trip to Columbia. I’ve said it plenty and I’ll say it again, if this ship is going down, I’m gonna be there with it. It’s part of being a true fan. Some will even pull secretly for Tennessee to lose so a change can be made. That’s just awful. It’s also foolish to expect a Clemson to happen, as if any change is gonna happen it won’t happen until after the season.

I just hope Tennessee makes it to a bowl. The players deserve as much for their work. For that to happen, there will absolutely have to be improvement, and I don’t even know if that’s possible – I don’t have much faith left (if any at all) in the coaching staff. I can only hope it is…

Even at 2-4 with nothing more to play for than pride and the avoiding of embarrassment…GO VOLS!

Images Courtesy of: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images (Daylife)Tami Chappell / Reuters Pictures (Daylife)
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