Good Morning, My Friends,
Wow! An interesting weekend for all Vol Fans. What a game and the Post Game in Neyland was “Special”. Most fans just stood there and rejoiced in the moment. The team, the student section, and the Band joined in celebration. There was certainly no rush to the locker room on the part of the players.
Time for a few notes about the game. Just as Appy State, V. Tech, and Ohio did Florida went after our DB’s deep early in the game and had success. The Vol Defense adjusted and as the game progressed plays that the Gators ran successfully in the first QTR were no longer successful. To me it seemed that they showed their bag of tricks at the start of the game and did not have an option open when that failed later in the game. Initially the Gator defense was forecasting our offense and put pressure on the Vols especially when they “knew” the Vols had to pass. Our play calling stopped that and had them on their heels later in the game.
The Vol’s dropped 5 passes in the first half. Three were by open TE’s. Two were not “easy” catches but they hit the receiver in the hands. Three were open player drops. Josh was a 50% passer for the game if those 5 passes had been caught he would have been a 63% passer for the game with over 400 yards passing for the game and maybe two more TD passes.
The Vols have Offensive “Tendencies”. Looking at the great coaches and their teams and you will see that they believed that their execution was good enough that even knowing they play that was coming the defenses could not stop them. As a “Spread Team” there are two types of team offenses. One passes to set up the run, the other runs to set up the pass. I think that Butch wants to be the second option. He wants to force the defense to defend a power running attack to open up the passing lanes as the Safeties and DB’s as well as the LB’s crowd the box. We had two runs for negative yardage (- 2 yards), but three things happened as the game progressed. First thing that happened was that the one and two yard gains became three, four, and five yard gains. The second thing that happened was that on the play action for the plays the defensive players were stepping up toward the offensive line flow expecting the run especially with Hurd in the game. This opened the field for the passing game and Josh’s runs. The third thing that happened was this allowed the Vol OL to be aggressive and go after the Florida Front 7. In the 3rd and 4th QTR’s the Vol OL and runners were taking the game to the Florida DL and LB’s. At that point the Gators were not having fun playing the game. One additional thing to note, the Gator’s first Front 7 are really good but they could not substitute with numbers on defense the way the Vols could. By the end of the game their legs were gone. An “Atta Boy!” for our WR’s and TE’s blocking on running plays and for each other. The Gator Secondary was worn out as the game progressed.
The Vol receivers had 8 players with receptions of over 10 yards long for first downs. Two averaged over 20 yards per catch for multiple catches. With the Vol Offensive tendency to throw into the flat, DB’s came up on the play action and the WR’s ran past them for deeper passes on Go Routes and Slants.
Special Teams were very Special. The Gator Kicker hit one low kickoff and Berry nearly broke it. Kick and Punt coverage was excellent. Alvin was more than solid on Punt returns and turned low punts into positive returns making the first Gator miss.
The players who have not been in the rotation made plays in this game on offense and especially on defense. It was great to see Dillon Bates recover that fumbled punt.
Our Defensive and Offensive Coordinators gave the Gator Coaches and players fits. You saw the
Gators have to use time outs in both halves because of confusion on the part of their players. In the first QTR the Gators had some success with shifts to get our defense off balance and out of position. Our defense did that to them for the next three QTR’s. The Vol’s defense lined up and when the Gators lined up our shifts threw a wrench into their offensive plans. When you throw in the Crowd’s ROARS, the Gator QB was really frustrated. To quote a Florida Sports Writer responding to the Gator QB that all stadiums are alike, “No, Neyland is not every Stadium.” This crowd was right there with last year’s Oklahoma Crowd for noise. On Offense the Vols would show a formation that gave the Gator defense a “tendency” to defend and after the Gator alinement would than use motion or a shift to put them on their heels. The Gators were so “aware” of Alvin Kamara on offense that Debord’s use of him on offense reminded me of making a cat chase a feathered toy on a string. The Gator defense was always sure that he would be getting the ball every play. There would be two or three Gators on him every play. That opened holes for other players to exploit.
A note on the DL, our DT’s did not have a lot of tackles but they demanded double teams and still pushed the Florida pass pocket back so the Gator QB could not step up to escape back pressure. This also gave the DE’s a single blocker to defeat and allowed them to pressure the QB and stop the outside runs by the Gator RB’s. To sum that up, while the Gators “had” the #1 Defense in the Nation, the Vol Defense had more sacks, tackles for loss, and was every bit as good on stopping 3rd Down as the Gators. As a side note, the Gator defensive stat line took a hard shot in the gut from the Vol QB/ WR/ TE/ RB’s.
A last note that comes from watching four games. It has been HOT! It has been HUMID! In every game several players from the other teams have dropped in both halves and especially in the second half of the games from heat related injuries. This has not happened to the Vols. You figured the Gators coming up North from Gainesville would handle the weather. That was not so true. The Vols handled it better. This is a major reason that the Vols have dominated the second half of every game this year. A real shout out to the Strength and Conditioning Coach and the Nutrition Staff for having these guys ready for each game.
On to Athens and the Dawgs, this will be a game. The guys need to take care of themselves and focus as they did for the Gators. We are better at this game in every area. Ole Miss showed the cracks in the Dawg’s game. We can put wedges in those cracks and break the game open if we play within our game plan.
Time to go.
Go Vols! Beat Georgia!