Good Morning, All,
The Vols did not play a perfect game at Lexington, but they really played a great game in all phases of the game. They ran the ball, caught the ball, tackled the other team, and made the BIG Plays needed to win the game. They made some mistakes, but they overcame those and took advantage of the Wildcats’ mistakes.
This was their most complete game of the year. A couple of things stood out to me about this game and these two teams. Three years ago, the Vols were in real dogfight with the Wildcats. Stoops had them on the uptick and scrapping. I think that the Wildcats have continued to improve in the past two years. They are more talented and a better team than two years ago; however, the Vols have improved both their talent and their performance to higher level than the Wildcats in those same two years. The Vols had a Speed advantage at all levels on both sides of the ball.
We should really appreciate the job that Butch and his staff have done to improve the talent and to coach it. Our Freshmen and Sophomores are our most talented players, and they are rapidly gaining the experience and seasoning that they need to complete in the SEC at the highest level. Their play is improving every game and that creates a positive impact on the success of the team.
During the game, I saw some things that I really liked about the way the coaches called the game and the way the players played it. One of the strengths of the Spread and Read Offensive play actions is that you have a number of options on every set. The Vols now have a really strong inside running game, and they have gashed teams for long runs between the tackles. Teams now are loading the Box to stop the inside run. That has opened the outside runs and sweeps, especially on 1st Down and 3rd and Short, when teams “KNOW” the Vols will run between the tackles. Our pulling guards and center on running plays have been very effective and because of that defenses assume that the Vols play will go with their action. DeBord has shown that he will have Dobbs counter that action for big plays when the defense flows in the wrong direction. DeBord is reading the defense’s reaction to our formations and play action. Phil and Cutcliff used to set teams up for counters by “being predictable”. We are not seeing as many New Plays as we are seeing multiple options being ran on the same play formation and play action.
Our Special Teams are really being “Special”. Return Teams are normally either “right handed” or “left handed” in Special team on returns. They like to or try to return the ball on one side of the field or the other. It appears to me that our return guys go where the gaps are created by either the blocking or the failure of the other team’s coverage unit. Their return scores have been on both sidelines of the field. We need to give a real hand to Abernathy, he reads the coverage, chooses the gaps, and leads Berry to success. He makes some really nice blocks. Our punt and kick coverage teams really stop the other teams.
The WR’s are contributing not only to their success by blocking for each other, but they are doing an excellent job of blocking for Dobbs and the RB’s on their downfield runs. Short passes do not become long plays without DOWNFIELD BLOCKING.
One thing is certain for the Gamecocks, they know that the Vols have thrown sand in their season’s motor the past two years. They would love to wreck the Vols Parade on Knoxville this Saturday. However, if the Vols continue to stay healthy and play within their abilities they should win. I like the way this team is developing.