It was a “Wild” Weekend for Football in both college and the Pros. I have never seen so many games impacted by weather for two days in a row.
What do I think about the Vols and ETSU game? I am glad that I was not up there with the weather delay. It made for a long day even watching at home. During the game you could see guys make mistakes and guys make good plays and some exceptional plays. This was the same team that played against West Virginia, BUT they did not play the same. In the post-game player interviews one player was asked, “What did the Vols do different for this game?”. The reply was, “Nothing, we just did it better.”
The starting lineup changed on both sides of the ball. Seven True Freshmen played and there were True Freshmen starting. The Vols only played 2 Seniors on Offense and 7 on Defense.
The Vols started the game with some problems running the ball just as they did against WV. They lost yardage on three runs in the 1st QTR with Tim Jordan losing 10 yards on one play. However, they only had 4 runs for lost yardage for the game with a total lost yardage lost by the backs of 13 yards. Yards per carry for the game – Jordan 4.3, Banks 4.8, London 5.9, Palmer 20.0, Four RB’s had runs of over 15 yards. We need to remember the times there were short runs because the RB crossed the goal line and the end of game runs by Fant in his first appearance as an RB.
Unlike the WV game the Vols hit long passes. When I watched the WV replay, WV kept at least one Safety Deep every play. ETSU’s Safeties were not as prepared. The Vols passed to 5 Receivers (4 WR and 1 TE). Three WR’s had catches of over 50 yards (Callaway 51 yds, Murphy 50 yds, Palmer 51 yds). They are averaging over 10 yards per completion. WE HAVE SEEN 3 TE’S IN A GAME AT ONCE. WE HAVE NOT YET SEEN A LOT OF PASSES TO RB’S
We should note that the Vols had no turnovers for the game. The two QB’s threw for 11 of 16 completions (68.75%) and that for the Season they are at 73.1 % for pass completions. One sack given up for short yardage.
Kicking is solid. Four Punts, two inside the 20 and 1 over 50 yards with not return yardage. A Punt blocked for a score!
On Offense the score, the passing and running success both show the progress this team has made. It is on the Defensive side of the ball that we can see the change and growth of this Vol Team. Last week the stat line was dominated by tackles by Safeties and DB’s. This week a DT Emmitt Gooden lead the team with 8 Tackles including the only Sack, followed by ILB Ignoit with 5 tackles. DT Alexis Johnson and ILB Darren Kirkland Jr were also in the top 7 tacklers with 4 tackles. Think about that of the Top 7 Tacklers for the game 4 were Front Line players. Three other DL players had a tackle. While Tuttle was in on several plays and really pushed he had no tackles. Look at the number of balls thrown away by the ETSU QB batted by the Vol DL. The two TD’s scored and set up by INT’s. That is much better than last week.
On Defense there were fewer missed initial tackles on defense and this means fewer first downs given up. On Offense there were fewer missed blocks on outside passes and that means more first downs and longer drives.
Watching the Sunday Vols Coaching Show, you repeatedly heard Coach Pruitt say, practice well, practice hard, and perform consistently and the players will play. He and his staff are real believers in the concept that great practice performance makes for great game performance. Watching practice coverage for the past month you could see multiple lines in the work groups running drills, not one line but two or more to increase the number of reps each player gets in practice. This is showing up in the lack of turnovers and lost balls due to drops by WR’s. The underclassmen are growing up and playing well.
The SEC looks good this year and the Top Teams are playing well, and at this point I think that the Vols are improving and will have their hands full in their SEC schedule. But they will beat some teams that are chalking their game with the Vols as a “WIN” today.
My “2 Cents Worth”! Your thoughts and observations??