Good Morning, My Friends,
It was an interesting game yesterday. It was the classic example of fans wanting to have their cake and eat it too…. We have heard the constant moans: 1) The coaches do not play the young players enough to get them experience; 2) The backups are more talented and better players then the starters but the coaches will not play them; 3) The backups do not get “Meaningful” playing experience when the game is on the line and their play can impact the game. Many fans got their wishes and I think many were not happy about their cake. You should expect first year kids with no SEC experience to not play as well as kids with a few years under their belts but many fans expect the “Newbies” to be instant stars by-passing all returning players as soon as they get on the field.
The game was sort of what I expected. Close to the vest, showing as little as possible other than the basics while playing a bunch of kids.
Yesterday the bench got a lot of play. There were new comers out there for the entire game on both sides of the ball. Some played well, some played exceptional, and some played not so well. As a result, the Vol performance was inconsistent on offense, since offensive play is much more involved teamwork and timing. The defense played well except for their penalties; however, the defense was also inconsistent at times.
It is worth noting that the OL had only one starter (Drew Richmond) at the start of the game in their “Normal Position”. The offense was not in smooth at all in the first QTR especially in the run game. Quinten was 63% passing with no INT’s but had a bad fumble but UMASS was unable convert for a score. Jarrett had the ball for three straight possessions in the 3rd and into the 4th QTR with one first down on a 14-yard run by Kelly. He was 2 of 5 passing for -5 yards.
On the kicking game, I feel for Cimaglia. He has a great leg and can really boom the ball but he has missed three in a row and all of them were less than a yard off by my eye or by hitting the goal post.
It was good to see Byrd and Johnson have good days at WR. It was not good to see the bad running on first down on the right side of the line. It was good to see the positive running plays to the left side of the OL. It was good to see 7 sacks by our DL and none given up by our OL. UMASS was only 3 of 14 on 3rd Down. The Vols were 7 of 18 on 3rd Down and Dormady was 7 of 15 near 50 % for the game.
The long and the short of this game was to play a lot of kids, not show a lot while getting ready for the Dawgs. At this point GA looks to be better than the Gators, so I expect the Vols to have their hands full next weekend.
My concerns for the game center around converting short 3rd down plays. We were 7 of 18 on 3rd down but early in the game repeatedly failed to convert 3rd downs with short passes. We need to be able to convert those 2 to 3-yard 3rd downs with running plays. That has contributed to the Vols slow starts in each of our games this year. We have been getting too many penalties on both sides of the ball. We are missing too many tackles at the line of scrimmage on running lays and short passes. Those plays should be resulting in little or no gain. The guys are there but they must make the play.
If we are better in those areas we can beat the Dawgs, if these problems are not addressed it could be a long day in Knoxville. Our playmakers will need to make plays when they have opportunities and our defense needs to contain the Dawg’s playmakers.
There is a lot to like about this team. But it is frustrating at the same time and it seems that we cannot get healthy and stay that way. We find playmakers on both sides of the ball and lose them just as things seem set for a great run.
Go Vols, get those GA Bulldogs!