Good Day, My Friends,
A painful and frustrating loss for the Vols yesterday before a good home crowd. The Vols led much of the game and lost it in the 4th QTR.
As the game progressed and the Vols repeatedly got into the Orange Zone and failed to score TD’s, I reflected upon the reasons for that failure that has been repeated with two talented but very different QB’s.
The long and the short story was that when the Vols did not move the ball late in the first half and that was repeated in the third and fourth QTR’s the defense was on the field too often with no recovery time. The Gamecocks could not consistently pass the ball on the Vols defensive backs but they were able to run for over 100 yards in the 4th QTR.
Butch has revamped his staff in the last two years. Most of the changes this year impacted the Vol Offense. Scott became the Off Coord and he was allowed to bring in a new WR coach and to change the OL coach. Both new coaches are “good” recruiters. The OL had multiple players returning with significant playing time and a lot of starting experience. The new WR’s are talented and the returning WR’s had potential. It was not until the final drive when USC went to a “Prevent Defense” that they were able to impact the game. For the entire game the WR’s and TE’s were a non- factor inside the 10-yard line either as receivers or as blockers. With the loss of Jauan Jennings the WR receiving threat has gone South in our passing game. As the game progressed past the first QTR, it frustrated me to see our RB’s being tackled for short gains, with OL and TE’s behind the RB on the line of scrimmage blocking NO ONE when the USC defenders in front of them were making the tackle. At the same time USC LB’s could shoot the OL gaps for repeated sacks and pressures of our “Mobile QB”. The OL has digressed as the year has passed. It seems the more we try to pass the less effective the OL is on run blocking. When the OL is passive it is not effective in either blocking mode. That is a sign of poor player development in both the areas of WR and OL.
At this point neither new coach has been as effective as his predecessor was with the players that he inherited nor have they developed their new kids to impact the game at this point.
To me among the biggest reasons for the Vols failure to win the Florida and the USC games boiled down to decisions by Butch to not put the QB under center and use a FB/Blocking Back in short yardage situations because “It does not fit Our System.” That was even to the point of not lining the RB up behind the QB. He is loyal and he is stubborn to a fault.
The second area that Butch had made a coordinator change was a year earlier. When he brought Bob Shoop as his new Def Coord. Bob wanted several changes in the defensive staff and was able to make some of the changes he wished for in the DL and DB Coaches. He was not allowed to change the LB coach. Thigpen is a good recruiter and the “Run Game Defensive Coordinator” for the Vols.
That is another “Player Development” point, of the Vol’s top six tacklers five were DB’s. Unless you count Gaulden as a LB. He had 10 tackles and it is apparent that the Gamecocks ran at him. Our two MLB’s had a total of FOUR tackles despite the Gamecocks running inside almost the entire second half. Thigpen is a “great recruiter” but it appears that if the kid is not ready to start when they hit campus he cannot develop them. Bituli was the top LB in the State. Another Middle Tennessee kid from the same class starts at MLB for the Aggies and had over 20 tackles against Bama last week and over 10 tackles and an INT against the Gators this week. It is apparent that John Chavis is not the recruiter that Thigpen is but he is a lot better LB coach.
On the LB point, if the other teams are running at your “Nickle Back Gaulden” that much why are we not using a 3 LB set? Good question for the “Running Game Defensive Coordinator”.
At this point there are no easy SEC Games left. Every SEC team left on the schedule can beat the Vols unless they get things together.
At this point, neither QB has the mix of talent and effectiveness that Josh Dobbs had. The Kicking game, the DL, and the DB’s are playing as good as or better then
last year. The RB’s are solid and I think really strong. The OL and LB’s are the weakest links on both sides of the ball for the Vols. Potential to excel is there with player development and coaching.
Based upon what I have seen watching a bunch of games the past month, Bama is better than the Ga Bulldogs. Next week will be a tough game and probably not pretty to watch. The Bama defense is built to challenge the Vol Offense and the Bama offense is a LB’s nightmare.
I will be rooting for the Vols and wearing my Orange but I do not feel very optimistic.
Go Vols!! Beat Bama!!