Good Morning, Everyone,
The Vols had an easy win Saturday and are into the preparations for their trip to Gainesville to play the Gators this Saturday. In their first two games, the Vols have played two very different opponents and the Vol’s game plans for the two games were completely different. Tech was a “Power 5” team that had 9 wins last year, won their division of the ACC, and beat a SEC Team in their bowl game. They featured an Option Based Power Running game and a seasoned defense. Indiana State, a non-Power 5 team, was a “regular” run /pass team coming off a losing season last year.
The Vols had a significantly greater talent level then Indiana State at all levels of the field in every position. Given that many fans and coaches would have just lined up and power driven State into the grass at Neyland on both Offense and Defense. Running both the scores and the Stat line up, but proving nothing. Instead Butch and his staff did what I think will benefit the team later in this year and next year. I have heard howls about what Butch did not do and what the howlers would have done in this game. So, I figured I would look at both sides of the coin this week.
First item on Offense was playing Kelly for as many snaps as he played. Too many say some, but the other side was that he played with both QB’s and the mixes in the OL. First, that helped timing and experience in both of those cases. Secondly, it allowed Butch to show a two-back package and passing to the RB’s to the Gators and at the same time because Kelly did not have a “huge” number of runs the wear and tear on him was minimal. The Vols played 5 RB’s in the game. The backups really played well. I wonder if some of the complaints about Ty not getting more snaps was because of the way Carlin Fils-Amee played both as a runner and as a pass blocker. He was written off by most “Talking Heads” as a wasted scholarship by-passed by the Freshmen. He did not look like a “Write-Off” to me. TD’s on a power run up the middle over a defender followed by a long sideline sprint on a passing down.
The young WR’s stepped up. There were not the dropped balls we saw in the tech game. We saw some kids make plays one on one.
The Vols played the OL starters and some backups. It is worth noting that keeping the line to some degree intact was important to getting Drew Richman’s timing back in gear. Also, several of the OL played more than one position during the game. Both Tech and State used the blitz a lot. The line gained valuable experience in those snaps. Redshirts got to play in a game situation with starters beside them rather than as a unit of “newbies” running out the clock. Again, it was important that when J. Guarantano played that he was not playing with backups. You cannot evaluate a QB if he does not have the same tools on the field that his competition enjoys. I think that we should note that the Backups at RB got to play with some starters on the field. That helped them. The Vol Offense showed running, passing (both long and short throws), but nothing unusual. Sort of Vanilla but they gave the Gators something to work on this week?
The complaint on Defense was that the Vols did not generate sacks or turnovers and Indiana State gained good yardage on “Jet Sweeps.” On that the one State score was set up by a sack/fumble on their 33-yard line. There were no sustained drives. In both games, the QB’s took some shots on passing downs but only one sack. The Vols did not blitz at all in either of their first two games. That will change. I think a good part of this was to not show the Gators anything but a Vanilla Defense. The Vols did not play a lot of DL. The Jet Sweeps worked but not consistently. The QB’s in both games did not consistently set up and pass in the pocket. That made the DL’s job harder. The one thing they could do was work as a unit. State did a good job of mixing their plays up. They used lots of motion and in the running plays used sweeps and with their handoffs they also used pitches to get outside of the interior defense. For the game, State had 13 First Downs with 6 passing, 6 rushing, and 1 penalty. The LB’s, CB’s, and Safeties had the most tackles in this game and most of the tackles were outside the hashmarks. There were tackles for a loss on the sweeps but also some missed tackles. It is interesting that Indiana State seemed to attack both sides of the field both in passing and running the ball. The Vols did not show anything but Vanilla on defense. Note that Butler, Wiggens, Shamburger, and Theo Jackson played.
Special Teams were “SPECIAL”. Really good play in all phases. As good as the return game is, players are picking up “Holding” calls behind and away from the runners that negate exceptional returns. I know this must drive Butch crazy.
It is on to Florida for the Vols. I expect the Vol Offense to build upon the first two games. I expect to see more of a mix on defense with some different schemes and staff mixes. We have the Safeties and LB’s to really make both run and pass blitzes pay large dividends. The secondary starters seem to be healthy and comfortable as a unit. One thing to watch are the Freshmen that make the travel squad.
The one good thing the Gators did in their first and only game was score twice on INT’s. Their offense and defense other than those two plays were not good. But they have had two weeks to prepare for the Vols. How this works out will show Saturday.
I like the Vols.
Go Vols! Beat the Gators!