Good Day, My Friends,
It has been a beautiful Fall Weekend for Football in Tennessee. Yesterday’s Homecoming Game with TN Tech followed Last week’s painful loss at the Hands of the Gamecocks and the turbulent exit of Jalen Hurd from the team. There was a good crowd in Neyland, but not a sellout. The crowd’s “Energy Level” in the stadium was more of the Dooley Years level and not near that of the games earlier this year. As the blowout progressed the crowd was watching the game and level of crowd noise was lower each quarter.
The Vols opened as “HOT” in this game as they have been cold in games earlier this year. Josh was amazing with 12 of 13 passing. John Kelly was Thunder and Lightning running the ball. He hit the holes hard and fast running and receiving in his first start. He does not tiptoe to a hole, he flashes to the line and hits the hole fast and hard. He is a more than solid North-South runner and heads up-field as soon as possible. Sweet. A long list of young players saw their first action at UT. They played well and that will bare good results down the road.
An observation, both Butch and the players have repeatedly talked about this “Team” being about “Team” and not about “Individuals”. Yesterday proved that to me. By the middle of the second quarter of the game literally every starter was on the bench. Barnett causing a career record for sacks was cheering on the sidelines. Kelly, Jennings, Malone, Smith all were watching others get snaps. Except for the kids that have redshirts as their season target, all players saw the field for snaps and not in the last two series of the game but for almost two and a half quarters. The scoring dropped off a bit but they did not turn the ball over, and they pitched a Shutout on defense. Marquez Callaway had as an exciting debut at Punt Returner as I remember. He is quick and FAST!
On the DL and OL guys played multiple sides and positions. Jack Jones saw quite a bit of time at Center and when I think of his disposition, he would remind me of Bubba Miller at that position. That brings a smile to my face. Freshmen and Sophomores saw a lot of action on defense and showed speed and talent.
Looking at Coaches today, we can all name a long list of Coaches that given the situation in Neyland yesterday that would have kept their starters in the entire game and ran the score up to pad their stats. I am glad that Butch and the Vols are not cut from that cloth.
Kentucky comes to Neyland next week in the most important SEC Game on their calendar in several decades. This is the most talented Wildcat team in many years and the Vols will need to continue to play solid football to win the game. Players in new roles will need to lay their best games. These Wildcats have created a lot of turnovers and taken advantage of them on offense. We do not need to give them an edge. On defense, the young players need to continue to play loose and fast and take the game to the Cats Offensive players. We need to tackle at the line and behind it, yesterday the Vols had 13 tackles for a loss. Most of those were from young players. We do not need to be tackling receivers 5 or 6 yards after the catch.
Things to watch for and work on for the Vols. Offense keep getting better on the OL. Protect the ball. On defense, QB’s are rolling out to get away from Barnett. The LB’s and DE’s on the other side need to contain that rollout action MUCH better. Bama and A&M’s QB’s ran and passed. The past two just wanted to get away from the rush to gain time to pass the ball. If the DE keeps the QB inside and does not let him outside, he can force him to go deeper behind the line and let the pursuit catch him from behind. The DB’s need to get their hands on more balls. INT’s would be nice BUT if they see the ball and knock it down that works. For a long pass to be
effective the receiver need to catch it. If the DB’s are seeing the ball and deflecting it the odds for them to be called for Pass Interference drops. It seems we are giving almost as many 3rd and Longs to penalties as pass completions.
Vols beat those Wildcats!!