Good Afternoon, Everyone,
Another week of football has passed. It was hot in more ways than one in Knoxville last Saturday. The crowd was there early and wilted as the afternoon passed. I think that the heat and humidity just zapped the energy from the crowd as the afternoon progressed. The people in the stands were just “flat worn out” by the game’s end.
I will tell you that the more I reflect on the game conditions both the band and the team were really in good shape to handle the weather.
To my eyes the Vols made progress from Game 1 to Game 2. They were organized for the first game, and appeared to be even better in the second game. How they handled the replacements for injuries was an indicator of that preparation. Another factor was the number of plays that they ran for the game. It did appear to me that they slowed the game pace when they got the big lead in the 3rd QTR.
One thing to remember is that Ark State had film of our first game. That allowed them to adjust their defensive and offensive game plans before the game. They saw where Utah State got under the Vols’ skin on both sides of the ball. New coach for Ark State but he knows the business and is an “Up and Comer” just as the last four coaches they have hired were. Their team benefited in that they had a large number of players returning from a Bowl Winning/ Conference Championship team. Their QB is talented and has several talented skill players to go to with some SEC speed. They also did not have a new offensive scheme since their last three coaches all played a spread up tempo offensive system.
Our Plus Factors: The Vols handled their defensive pressure better than they handled the Utah State pressure. Penalties were down and we had more long plays. We ran better, not great but better. Again we had a number of receivers catch passes. The WR’s and TE’s really blocked well down field. In both the first and second half the defense adjusted to lock down the Ark State Offense. In the second half Ark State was attacking the left side of our defense both passing and with the run. After their last score our DE, OLB, and DT adjusted and kept their QB inside the pocket. That allowed us to put more pressure on him and they also stopped the last 4th down conversion attempt to end that drive.
An observation, in the Spread offense almost all the running plays are like a draw play. Unless it is a slot receiver coming across the field the RB gets the ball standing still and at that point starts to run with no lead blocker. The QB is really your second runner and the one moving with the ball. A lot of fans are on the sites calling for Butch to use other formations to improve the running attack. I love the “I” Formation running attack, but it does not have the passing and parameter attack options the spread does. Another point is that from the OL standpoint it becomes real hard to disguise run versus pass. A point from the General and many other great coaches, do what you do well and make them stop you.
Where we go to “Big Boy Football”. Big spread, really good team, coach with a national title, historical game site… this is the reason great players play to play against the best. The Vols can win this game, but to do that they cannot help the Sooners on the field. Penalties, turnovers, missed tackles, and missed assignments (i.e. block the guy you are supposed to block and/or catch the ball) will make or break the Vols. If they win those battles and the Sooners lose them, we can win. We are not going to out talent them, but we can out play them. That is what Butch’s creed can be boiled down to, in simple terms. A history lesson about the General, he was known for punting early to flip the field and put the defense up. He figured, and if you think about it this is still true today, that good defenses force offenses into more bad mistakes that change games than the other way around.
Enough for now