Good Morning, Everyone,
A good win against a good team in an Historic Setting with a Record College Football Crowd. I was up at 6 A.M. and watched ESPN Gameday all day. They were really blown away by the Bristol Crowd at the game 12 hours before Game’s Kickoff. With the second game in the books, we can take a little better look at the Vols and where they are this morning. That may give us an idea about where this team is going. First let’s look at our opponents in these two games. They are a lot alike in their talent and concepts. My analysis says that the primary differences were that Appy State was more aggressive on their front 7 on defense and on offense worked very hard to prevent the Vols from substituting. This allowed Appy State to dictate game pace and control it a lot better than V. Tech.
In both games the Vols made mistakes in the first QTR that lead to scores by Appy State and V. Tech. In both games there were long scores early in the game as a result of contain coverage lapses on the right side of the Defense. The good news was that in both games the defense corrected and improved their coverage in that area as the game progressed. Early the Vols gave up third down conversions, half of those via penalties. In the middle of the game when the Vols took control of the game V. Tech was 0 for 6 on third down conversion. After their second score they did not convert a 3rd down again until the 4th QTR.
When we look at the Vol’s Trends for this game there were several things that stood out to me. First, the V. Tech defense was really focused on stopping Hurd and Kamara and had some luck there. However, when you look that Hurd was held to 99 yards on 22 carries an average of over 4 yards per carry. They held Alvin Kamara to 9 yards on 3 carries, but they paid for that focus on those two backs. Josh had 106 yards on 14 carries. When Josh used a play fake to either of them the odds were that he was uncovered when he ran. An additional thing to look at in the future are the fits that the Vols gave both defenses when they had both Kamara and Hurd in the backfield at the same time. Secondly, The LB’s, and I include the Nickel back in this group, were the three leading tacklers. Micah Abernathy had three tackles for a loss. NINE DL had tackles in the game. When you combine that with the number of tackles the LB group had in this game, that combination really points in a good direction for the progress of the front seven. It should be noted that DL Kendell Vickers’ pursuit and downfield tackle after a first down run caused a fumble that helped to cement the game. Third, the Vols played several WR’s, but the primary receivers were Josh Malone and Jennings, both RB’s had receptions, only one TE reception by Croom. V. Tech did not open the middle of the field up for the TE’s as Appy State did. Wolf primarily was used as a blocker in this game and did not have a catch.
Special Teams played well. Coverage was excellent and they did not allow V. Tech any big plays on returns. Medley missed a 47 yard FG by inches in the game. There were no yards on punt returns and we had a fumble recovery on a muffed punt. It should be noted that while several Freshmen are playing on the Special Teams coverage units, they have yet to make a tackle. The Sophomores and Juniors are the strength of those teams. A LOT OF “Fair Catches” by the receiving teams.
One area that was a real concern going into the game was the OL’s play. I do not think that the Vols used the same OL group for an entire quarter in the game. They not only rotated the OL players they also rotated the positions on the OL that they were playing at from series to series. There were two sacks, but the breakdowns were not as bad as last week. There were not the repeated jail breaks up the middle that we saw during the Appy State game.
All in all, a good game, a lot of new faces on defense gave up score on a multi-play drive 3:35 minutes long at the end of the game to reduce the margin of victory. It was good to see John Kelly run the ball effectively in the drive to end the Vol’s scoring. The OL blocked well on that drive and V. Tech wanted a stop and to get the ball back. It was good to not have a “Three and Out” on that drive.
Now it’s on to the Ohio Game next weekend. I was able watch Ohio beat Kansas at Kansas yesterday. They are not a bad team, but I feel that they are not as good as our first two opponents. A this point I do not feel that the Vols have fully developed their identity on either defense or offense. The player rotations on both sides of the ball are not set yet and new players are being fitted into the team’s execution plans from game to game. I think the coming week will settle those plans down. After that the “Travel Squad Roster” will really define the lineups on both sides of the ball.
Time to go. Everyone have a great week, “It is Football Time in Tennessee!”