Good Morning, Folks,
We have sort of a break before the Florida game. The Vols dropped out of the Top 25 by a hair. Oklahoma jumped higher in the polls. We play enough ranked teams in our remaining schedule to move up as we win. This starts the next two weeks with the SEC Schedule starting for the Vols.
Western Carolina is 1-1 with a loss this past weekend to the Citadel. In their loss the Catamounts gave up over 300 yards rushing to the Citadel and did not force a Citadel punt in the second half. Based upon those games the Vols should not have a problem on offense. Western is not Oklahoma on defense nor Bowling Green on offense. Let us move on to the SEC and the Gators. At this point the Vols have played two teams that are better than the Gators opposition in their pass two games. Butch and his coaches have two good games to evaluate the players and to set goals for the units and individuals for the upcoming SEC schedule. Game prep for Western Carolina should not be complicated. The next two weeks I believe will be focused on preparations for the SEC Schedule starting with Florida game prep.
When we go to Gainesville, the team should be healthier and better prepared for the game in the Swamp. The emphasis will be on individual improvement especially the younger players. Who will play where, will have to be worked out. The Oklahoma defense was really the first time Josh played against a really good defense in a situation where he had both preparation and the players to play the game. I think the focus on him will be about his play execution and option decisions. There were too many plays last weekend that it appeared that Josh did not exercise the best choice in his three options (pass, run, or handoff). Especially in the second half, his execution was not fluid. For an option to be successful, the play motion has to flow quickly enough so that the defense has problems seeing what is happening. If it does not flow, the defense can read the play as it develops and react. If the option is ran correctly some of the defense will think “It is a pass” and go all out pass defense mode, some will read “It is a handoff for a RB run” and go all out to stop the RB, and some may read “QB Keeper”. The QB has to see his keys on his best choice. I swear the great option QB’s are psychic and read people’s minds or even see the future on the football field. They have to read not only the defensive reactions but also the play execution of their teammates. The best ones do that and they seldom come along. Do you remember Tommy Frazier at Nebraska?
More than anything else, the success of the Vols the rest of the season will rest on how well Josh executes the available options in this offense and how well the other players do the same thing in order to play well as a team. The other factor will be how well Medley kicks. He is a kicker and I have no idea why he seems to have lost his ”mojo” for making FG’s. I am concerned about the punter. He has a great average yards per kick and net kicking at this point. HOWEVER, as a rule he is kicking the ball low with very little hang time. If he kicks one of those against the better SEC returners, we will pay for it. He did it once against the Sooners.
I harp on experience versus talent alone. The weight for experience is that it gives the player
an edge in doing the right thing in a situation. That edge normally shows up in the speed of commitment to execution of their duties. On defense it is the “one step” that prevents a pass completion or the DB turning the corner to get up field or to close a developing running hole. On offense it is the cut to make the defender miss or the pass release before the DB can break to the WR or the break by the WR to go back to the QB or pass the DB as the called play breaks down.
These two weeks will give some players an opportunity to gain playing time and prepare for it. We need better execution and more rotation on both sides of the ball in the lines. Coaches will look at who will play where and how much. After the Western game there will not be another opportunity to retool assignments for several weeks. The first real road game is the real test of the position assignments and player rotations.
A point Doug Mathews made this week was as coach that sometimes nothing you do works. The Coaches cannot get the right plays/defenses and/or the players cannot make the plays and everything the other team does works. We have all heard it said, “That’s why they play the game!” We have all seen Hall of Fame Coaches lose games they should not have lost and great teams with unexplainable losses.
We also need to remember that all the experts have said that this team has potential but is a year away from reaching its potential growth. But we can hope for the Vols to push the schedule on that growth.
Have a great week!!