Good Day, My Friends,
It is a pretty day today and the Vol Game yesterday was interesting. I few thoughts about this year and last year. Last year the defense was hammered by injuries, and this year the offense is being hammered by injuries. Last year’s ending schedule looked weak early in the year and turned out tough. This year’s the ending schedule is tougher than last year’s schedule with KY already bowl eligible, S Miss with 5 wins going into the game with the Vols, LSU ranked and out playing Bama in T-Town while losing, Vandy having a solid bowl shot and a strong QB, and Mizzou having one of the top passing games in the SEC and the country. That is not a cream puff closing schedule.
On to the game. The defense won this one. The offense set the table in the first half scoring 10 points and then two TDs in the 3rd QTR. J.G.’s ankle/foot was hurt scoring the first TD, and it got worst as the game progressed. The backup QB McBride played well, kept his head, and did nothing to lose the game. I think that with a week they will be ready to go after Mizzou.
The offensive play calling after the first score became more conservative to protect the QB. That was also more essential because of the injuries and inexperience of the “New” OL. Kelly was a warhorse. In the 3rd QTR when opportunities arose due to S MISS turnovers, he scored on two really tough/strong runs. Note that both of those runs were straight up the middle power runs, with multiple tackles being broken. The Vols ran the ball a lot against one of the best run defenses in the NCAA and they stopped a lot of those runs. However, the Vols did not lose a lot of yardage and did not fumble. In the 2nd half those runs ran the clock down when S Miss needed time to come from 3 scores behind.
Looking at the defense, it was their best overall game of the year. In the first three QTRs the Vols held S Miss to 3 points and barely over 100 yards with most of that coming in the 1st QTR on a 70-yard pass that set up their FG. The second S Miss QB Griggs was hot on his first drive and lead them to a TD with a ten play/ 95-yard drive. On the next two S Miss possessions under Griggs they had one first down and 20 yards on 12 plays ending the game.
The Vols defense held S Miss to 38.23 % passing with 13 of 34. Both QB’s average passing rate were over 50% with Howard at 56% and Griggs at 52%. The team was held to fewer passing yards then each QB averaged for the season per game. They held S Miss to 2.8 yards per rush, well under their season average per rush. Their longest run was 12 yards. They were 7 of 20 on 3rd Downs. The leading rusher was held to half his season average yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry. S Miss had scored 17 – 45 – 28 – 28 – 31 – 24 – 34 – 12 points in their earlier games. The 17 was at Kentucky. This was their lowest scoring game of the season.
The Vols won because of defense, field position, and the kicking game. They had no turnovers and fewer penalties then S Miss. The Vol DE’s played their best game, the DL pursued and tackled. The Vol defense was faster man for man then the S Miss players they were defending. The Vol defenders adjusted as the game progressed to counter S Miss moves/schemes.
On the next week, I lived in Missouri for four years and at one time many years back had Mizzou season tickets. The Mizzou crowd is not a typical SEC home crowd, but this is a SEC Football team. Then there is the weather, in November the weather in Columbia is worst then at Kentucky in Lexington!! Count on the best weather to be only clear and freezing. I think Mizzou has the best SEC passing QB, and they have a TOUGH PRODUCTIVE RB with many Big Tall Fast WR’s. They do not pass for a real high percentage, but they go long. They lead the NCAA in Passing TD’s.
I watched most of the Mizzou/Florida game last Saturday. I think that the Vols can beat Mizzou if things fall right and they play within themselves.
First the defense must step it up again and create turnovers and pass pressures and pass breakups for the ENTIRE GAME. The Vol DE’s must have their best game in both rushing the passer and defending the run. They pass to set up the run and when they run if you do not maintain gap coverage their RB gashes you. Remember that their WR’s are big and go deep every play, once a RB is past the DL there is a LOT of open field. The Vols must create turnovers.
Secondly, the offense must get more players back and healthy especially on the OL. The key to the Mizzou defense has been their DL ever since they joined the SEC. Their head coach was the DL coach and he puts guys in the NFL. Their Front Four rush is tough. I think big, mean, fast, sums up that group. At this point everyone is keying on the RB on the Vol first down plays. Due to the depth issues the Vol QB’s are not running the ball. The Vols need to play action pass more on first down and/or pass from what are normally running formations. An empty backfield to the Mizzou DL is like throwing chum in shark waters. Their overall defense is not great, but you must keep them off balance if you cannot just overpower them. When the Vols run they need to run directly at the Mizzou DL and LB’s, do not let them pursue.
That about sums it up.
Go Vols! Beat the Mizzou Tigers!!