Good Day, Everyone,
It is time to reflect on the Game against Oklahoma. From everything that I have heard the folks that made the trip had a great experience. The folks in the Midwest treat visiting fans well. That has been my experience at Kansas and Mizzou. Next year we need to return their hospitality, it will be the Sooner’s first trip to Knoxville.
The Vols did not play the error free game they needed to play in order to beat a deeper and more experienced Oklahoma team. I think that our talent and speed matched up pretty doggone well against theirs. In fact I think our speed was better than theirs by a hair. We had five True Freshmen start, three on the OL (RT< RG< TE).
They stopped us and caused our mistakes and they made big plays that lead to scores (TD’s & FG’s) for them.
Watching the replay, I think that the Sooner DB’s really played aggressively against the Vol’s WR’s. They played tight at the line and hand checked/bumped the Vol WR’s aggressively during their patterns. In fact in my opinion, there were several good tackles made by the OU DB’s before the ball arrived to the WR’s. Some folks made an observation that Worley was sacked and hit a lot because he held the ball too long. My observation is that he needed to complete passes and with the play of the Sooner DB’s it was taking the receivers longer to get open even on short routes. We only had 6 players catch passes, 2 RB’s and 4 WR’s. No TE’s caught a pass. Wolf was missed both for his receiving but also for his blocking. Pearson’s absence allowed OU to double/triple team North, despite that he lead the Vol’s in number of catches.
There were only two penalties accepted during the game one holding on OU and one on UT during kick return. If I was going to be “tacky” I would say that it appeared that the Ref’s had a tight flight departure time out of Norman that night and did not want the game to be slowed down by flags. I guess they let both teams play.
I was proud of the composure of the UT Players. In a game like that one player’s tempers can get out of hand and things get ugly. I am proud of their effort for the entire game. It was a “Great” second half effort on both sides of the ball.
There are a couple of things about the game that really are worth a comment because of the team improvement that they demonstrate. FIRST, EVERY DL STARTER HAD MULTIPLE TACKLES. SECOND, THE LB’S HAD MORE TACKLES THAN THE DB’S. Cam Sutton (8 tks) and LaDarrell McNeil (7 tks) had great games and made big plays but the LB’s stole the show. In that arena, Bates had one tackle and Todd Kelly Jr had no tackles. Sutton ran down the two fastest OU players on long plays that last year would have been TD’s. That means that we stopped a lot of plays at or near the line of scrimmage. That is why the Sooner’s were only 3 of 12 (24%) on third down conversions and 0 for 1 on 4th down. On the other side look at the number of times the Sooner DB’s “broke up” passes to the Vol WR’s that would have resulted in 1st downs. Note that OU had one passing TD for 23 yds to Ford a RB on a “busted” coverage in the first QTR. We kept their WR’s and TE’s out of the EndZone.
When you wonder about the difference in depth on the two teams, the Vols had 14 players with tackles and Oklahoma had 21 in that category. They played a lot of guys in the secondary. On our plus side, ours will be back to play them in Neyland next Fall.
I think that Casey Clausen must have given Justin Worley some of whatever he used to drink before a game. Like Casey the young man is becoming a favorite player for Vol Fans because he has “Grit” and no quit in him. He took some licks for the team this past weekend. He leads this team by example on and off the field. We are lucky to have him this year. He is showing the younger players what high standards they have to set for themselves in preparation in order to play in the SEC. He may not be as talented as some QB’s we have had but like Casey, he is this team’s QB, and he will do everything he can for the team to win.
Early in the Summer and during the start of Fall Practice the calls were loud and not very polite for “ANYONE BUT WORLEY” to be the Vol’s starting QB. I heard two regular talk-show callers after the game (Sunday and Monday) lamenting that Dooley had wasted his Freshman year and not given him a Red Shirt that year. Both callers wished that he would be back next year with all the other returning Vols and make next year’s team a “Special Team”.
It is time to move on to the future. The Vols are in a three game portion of their schedule that every Talking Head Expert had not “penciled in” but “INKED IN” as three losses for the Vols. At this point I have not given up and feel that the Vols have good shot at both the Dawgs and the Gators. Oklahoma is a really good team, deep, experienced, talented, and well coached. They had a very experienced QB. I do not think that either GA and FL are as good nor as consistent as the Sooners. This is a good time for the Vols to have an Off Week to prepare for the next month’s games.