Good Morning, My Friends,
I ran into a time constraint yesterday and did not elaborate and provide very many details on some of my points. Given that I wanted to “Flesh Out” some of the things about this year’s team that make me think that they will surprise some people.
Before I get started, I have not heard from some of you in a while. I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you want to continue getting these Notes. Especially let me know if you have died and left the active Vol Fan Base. Relative to these notes, if you pick up a “tidbit” about things on the Hill for any sport, please send them to me.
On to today’s Notes:
There are four things that have a significant impact on the success of any team on the playing field. First on that list is the individual talent of the players relative to their opponents. Size, speed, smarts, mental toughness, and coordination all play a part in these criteria. An important component of this area are the numbers of talented players on a team in each area relative to the needs of each player position on the team. Five AA QB’s will not help you if you do not have enough WR’s or DT’s on the bench. Second is conditioning. This enables the players to perform at their optimum and highest level as they play every down on the field. Third is quality coaching. They teach the players and develop the player’s ability to use their talent. Fourth on the list are injuries. The first three things all impact this one and you must throw “Just Plain LUCK” into this one as well.
TALENT: Looking at the Vol players talent, it is there. In some cases, it is there with potential as the players develop. Those players need to grow and mature to be competitive relative to the Vol’s opponents. In many cases the players need to learn how to play their position at the SEC and higher levels. Relative to last year’s team, the Vols had marginal depth in both the OL and DL because of experience and physical maturity. Jeremy has bought is kids to address those needs in the short term and from the way the coming year’s class is developing all areas of recruiting needs are being addressed in both numbers and with quality talented kids. This year compared to last year’s team the returning players and the new players as JUCO’s and Grad Transfers will be more mature and physically developed relative to their opponents. Last year on the OL and DL at the end of the year the Vols Freshmen and Walk-Ons played against teams with 4th and 5th year players, the match-ups in experience and physical maturity were not good. A lot of that was caused by injuries and in turn caused injuries.
CONDITIONING: This was the area that Butch’s management of the team was at its worst and failed. He was not tough enough on the kids and did not back his S&C staff in his first years on the Hill. Jeremy is on the right track with his new S&C staff. It will show this year especially late in the season. In three areas, DB, DL, and OL having the right numbers of bodies for each position was an issue.
COACHING: You want position coaching skills and recruiting skills. Butch changed some skilled teachers for recruiters. A good coach can have a chance of making a “Silk Purse out of a Pig’s Ear” but with a “Personality Recruiting” coach when their kids hit the ground what you see is what you get. If they can’t start when they hit campus, they will not get better. WR and TE both were not well coached in all areas of their responsibilities. There was a lot of conflict between members of the staff about concepts on defense. Constant staff turnover is not good for player skill development and that was one of Butch’s problems. When you look at the staff that Jeremy has put together, they are stable and have with exception of Terry Fair worked together successfully in the past. When Jeremy called they were not surprised and were ready to join him. In my opinion, this new coaching staff in conjunction with the S&C program will contribute to significant improvements in individual player development in the coming Fall. WATCH OUT FOR NEXT YEAR!!
INJURIES: All of the three things along with LUCK impact injuries. Kids get hurt when they are over-matched physically by superior talent and ability. If a kid is not in shape the nature of the game can lead to injuries. Poor coaching on Technics can lead to injuries and cause injuries. Not having enough kids to provide depth will lead the coach to play kids that are not physically ready to play the number of minutes they will have to play or to play kids out of position. Both lead to injuries. Last year this destroyed both the OL and DL at the end of the year. It was significant at the LB position as well.
At this point I have dealt with the kids as individuals and coaching. One thing that impacts success in both areas is the factor of “TEAM MANAGEMENT”, What is that? Well to my eyes, when PHIL undertook the job of hiring a new coach and rebuilding the Vol Football Program, he looked at it from the eye of a manager to see what needed to be done by the new coach. Then he looked for someone with the talents, experience, demonstrated skills, and a plan about how to the things he knew that the Vols needed to do to return to the Vol Standard in Football. He supported Jeremy in his staff selections. He let Jeremy set his priorities for recruiting and then supported the things that Jeremy’s staff said that they needed to do their jobs in terms of facilities and equipment. I think that in the past year Jeremy has shown that he has a pattern for the team for today and the future. That is shown by the numbers and quality of the kids he has signed and accepted as commitments at each position. Watching film of the new kids is fun. He knows “Ball Players”. He is a lot like Coach Barnes. He recognizes potential and ability and believes that he and his staff can develop that. He recruits Top Talent and will take it, but he knows what he needs number wise by position. Four 5 Star RB’s or QB’s will not help at DT or Center or CB.
Well that is my “Two Cents Worth”, what do you think? My take is simple, conditioning and coaching will be what bring this Vol Team back to a better season. A couple of more years and recruiting will improve numbers and talent in areas of need and that will lead to a better team in the future.
Time to leave for today. Take care, it is nearly, “FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!”