January 1st, 2016 | TN Bill’s Tennessee Tidbits

Happy New Year, Everyone,

The Holidays are past and things have settled down around the house.   It is time to catch up on the Vols and things on the Hill.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed the Northwestern game more than I did the Iowa win last year.   The Wildcats were ranked higher and were in the full BIG 10 Chest Thumping, “We’re in the Best Conference and we are better than the SEC!!” talking mode.   Including, “We are bigger, tougher, faster, Etc., Etc.”.  Well, that was before the game.   At the end of the game it was all, “SEC> SEC> SEC!!”

My observations on the game are pretty basic.  Really good game plans on all sides of the ball.  First, make them react to our power run game and run the QB when they sell out to stop the RB’s.  I loved the use of Dobbs under center on the modified “I”.    Don’t you know that next year no one will look forward to the Vols with our RB’s in an “I” formation.  Second, making them spread their zones on defense to cover the sidelines and then hitting them in the middle with passes to the TE. To sum up the offensive plan, make the Wildcats try to cover everything and go where they are not covering the play effectively.  Part of that formula was to run at their strength in the middle enough to make them keep it loaded.  We rotated the OL individual players during the entire game.  It really wore out the Wildcat DL and LB’s as the game progressed.

On defense the Vols stopped their run game consistently and put their offense in 2nd and 3rd and long regularly.  When that happened the pass rush was good and the sacks were there.   One note for next year, when Cam Sutton left the game the DB play did not drop off.

A really, really good win for the Vols not only to complete this year but to start the next season.  When the game was over and the stats were out I looked at the “Game Participation List”.  The Vols played a huge number of players in all positions throughout the entire game, not just in “Mop Up”.   Having large numbers of players with “Big Game Experience” is huge for next year.  I am really looking forward to next year.    It looks like Butch really picked up a “Comer” for his staff with our new coach Larry Scott.  I watched him as the Interim Coach at Miami in a couple of their wins and that with the things that are on-line about him as a coach and recruiter really make me like him.

On next year, if you can listen to Doug Mathews “Big Orange Sunday” for last week.  He had a really good overview of current player depth and the Vol’s recruiting for next year.  The Vols only have two visit weekends left before signing day and unlike the last two years there will be a large number of Top 100 uncommitted players in all positions visiting each weekend for a small number of remaining scholarships.  I think they want additional OL/ DT/ DB/ WR and maybe LB/ RB depending on guys leaving early.

On to Basketball, my observation at this point is that Coach Barnes can coach.   Several players have really stepped up their level of play and shown improvement.  This team is playing good defense and really hustles.  Their only real weakness is that their shooting is “streaky” and they have extended cold shooting slumps from the field and the Free Throw line.   Their “5” play is absent on offense; they drive to score in the paint.  Their rebounding is really good, which is surprising given their lack of power players at the “5” and “4” positions.  I like this team.  They really play tough the entire game and the last five minutes of their games are great to watch because of their efforts.  The men’s basketball recruiting class signed for next year looks better and better.  It seems that every player on the list is better than expected and has improved their play this year.  Most of them were MVP’s of Holiday Tourneys that their teams won. Their teams have had upset defeats of Nationally ranked teams in the past month. There is a really good overview on each of them on line on the UT Sports Site under Basketball.  

Last night the Lady Vols had a good win at Mizzou.   There is a lesson in that game.  Mizzou was ranked and undefeated at 13 – 0.  They had not played either a ranked team nor a tough road game.  They were shooting lights out against their overmatched opponents.   The Lady Vols played defense and scored off their defense the entire game.  In my opinion as the Freshmen and new players get their feet on the ground, this team will be much better than merely “Good”.

My Note on the Bowls, the AAC and Big 12 suffered because of their weak conference schedules and lack of defense within the conference. They scored a lot during the regular season and the national “Talking Heads” howled about how good they were because they scored so much… it seems that a lot of that scoring was due to the lack of defense on the field.   The SEC defenses played well in all their games even in the games they lost, and they contributed a lot to the beating the SEC gave all of their opponents on the scoreboards.

Enough for right now!!

Go Vols!!

TN Bill


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