Good Morning, Everyone,
Well, it is Monday morning and the sun came up following a “Happy” Sunday morning. The game was great, and the high for this win had as much of an emotional uplift as the low was a downbeat with the Dawgs last minute score to beat the Vols under Phil to start Mark Richt’s run years ago.
There are a few key points about this season and the Vols that really stood out to me. First, the Vol fans are really behind this team and their coaches. There are voices of doom that sound regularly. Sunday when I checked the Boards, there were posts on Rivals and Scout made during the game “throwing in the Towel” and dumping players and the coaches off the cliff. If they had been at the game, they would have sensed the worry, but they would also have sensed the up lift of HOPE and lack of quit by the players. Despite the early rain, Neyland roared and the stands rocked on a dark cool day.
Second, the team’s play has improved from game to game on both sides of the ball. They are still not at their potential best performance level on either defense or offense. This weekend the team made mistakes in every position, no one played “Perfect”, but they made more good and some GREAT plays at every position. WR’s and RB’s dropped some balls but made some critical catches and runs on poor passes. OL missed some blocks but made some great ones. DB’s missed tackles downfield but had critical Pass Breakups. Josh was the National Player of the Week, but did not play a perfect game.
Third, the coaches have stood by the players and their game plans. Doug Mathews made a point in his Sunday morning show that was made to him in his coaching days by a Hall of Fame Coach, that coaches should know their players capabilities and not ask or plan for players to do something that they could not do. Their plans should take advantage of the players’ talents. In this game players that many “Fans” have called to be “benched” and termed as “wasted players” made mistakes; but also, they made the critical plays that lead to the win. The Vols had 9 receiver catching passes and 8 of them had more than one catch. Seven had passes of 19 or more yards. The Dawg defense was determined to keep Hurd and Kamara from breaking big runs to the point that they left Josh open for repeated long runs. Josh did a really good job of choosing the correct option on the “Read Option” plays both for passes and runs.
Fourth, the Vols handled the systems that had given the Vols fits in their earlier losses well. The Dawg’s “I” and power 2 TE sets worked but were stopped at critical times. The Vols missed tackles but were able to hold most of GA’s receptions to few yards after the catch. We have got to improve our coverage on long passes. The Dawg’s WR drops on long passes into the end zone cost them the game. The GA coaches did a really good job catching the Vols in man coverage with no Safety help and exposed our Corners with their two best WR’s.
Fifth, the young players are stepping up when they are called upon. Both the OL and DL have had multiple injuries. Backups have really had a baptism by fire. One “Atta Boy” for the coaches, when Jack Jones and Chance Hall were in the Dawgs were really crowding them the Blitz, putting Wolf over them and Hurd made that harder, but the coaches also called runs that let them attack the GA DL and LB’s. The rollouts by Dobbs also let them attack the GA DL. Colman Thomas could help them on those plays as well. Those calls made the GA DL less aggressive in their pass rush and blitzes. The excellent play by the Freshmen on all Special Teams really stands out. How about the RB Kelly’s fumble recovery to set up the second 1st half TD? Martin played well at CB late in the game.
On the next game, it is a great week for a break to heal and prepare for Bama. They are on the road to play the Aggies. This team really will give our Vols matchup problems on defense at WR/TE/RB and on offense at DL/DB/Safety. Talent, size, and speed all over the place and at every position. They also have more depth than any team we have played. This was the game that I felt was to be this team’s toughest matchup on the schedule. To win the Vols will have to improve both as individuals and as units on both offense and defense. They will have to play their best games and make “Splash Plays”. Bama can score on Special Teams, Offense (Running and Passing), and Defense. They have play makers. Now the Vols also have play makers. In my opinion the team that will win this game will be the one that counters the other team’s playmakers the best.
Time to go. Take care and support the Vols!
Go Vols! Beat Bama!!