Good Morning, My Friends,
An early start on this week’s notes with the time change. We finally had the weather for a Fall Football weekend. That was fitting for Homecoming. Looking at the game there were several things that stood out to me.
First, let’s look at Charlotte’s program. This is the 6th year they have had football. What does that mean? One thing is that they have a lot of players on their roster with 2-3-4 years of starting experience. This was especially the case for their defensive front 7, their best unit. As a new program any kid with talent started as a Freshman these last six years. These kids learned some hard lessons and got whipped every year and then this year they started to give some whippings. Our 20 yards rushing was a result. While they were not “BIG”, they were as big and older than the Freshmen/Sophomores we put against them.
The Vol Defense played their best game. They adjusted and played better as the game progressed. They mixed fronts and, in their rotation, played a lot of kids that gained needed experience. The “Targeting” penalty was about their only Hiccup and fueled Charlotte’s best drive at the start of the game. They pressured the QB and after the first QTR Charlotte was not able to run consistently. They did not give up big plays. One point to remember, Mincey and a couple other kids are getting healthy and should help in the last three games. A.Taylor should not have another targeting call, watching two games from the dressing room ought to teach him that lesson.
The Vols were able to play field position well until that 70 (+) yard Rugby Punt pinned them near the goal line in the second half. The Punt Return TD was critical to the winning margin.
On offense, the Vols had problems. It was still a good move by Jeremy to hold several offensive starters out players out and to limit the number of snaps for others. The biggest problem was on the OL. I hope we as Fans realize that this is the third different starting OL that the Vols put on the field in as many games. Richmond was the only OL starter that had started in game one this year. We should also note that he was pulled in the second half. Tatum was dinged up and pulled in the second half. We saw what happens when an OL of Freshmen and Sophomores with no starting experience goes against a Defensive Front 7 with 3 or 4 years of starting experience, Charlotte had three talented defensive players, an MLB, a DE, and a Safety plus a big DT. They saw how Bama, USCe, Auburn, GA, and Florida’s defenses attacked the Vols and used the same stunts and rush combinations against an OL that was not as experienced nor as big as the one that the Vols started in September. Add a couple of penalties, tackles for a loss, and dropped passes to that and the Vol drives stalled. Not a good day for the offense.
One point that should not be overlooked. In the second half with the game on the line and needing to control the clock, the Vols kept running the ball and were able to get several first downs and flip the field while forcing Charlotte to use all their timeouts. That was with the two starting OT’s on the bench. The kids kept fighting and pushing. We won the game and we have lost several of these under our last two coaches. We should not overlook the progress of the team and individuals just because we are not happy about the final score.
On the next game, a fine afternoon game against a Wildcat team with a good defense coming off home whipping by the Bulldogs for the SEC East Title. The Wildcat defense features starters with 3 -4 years starting experience in the SEC and has fueled the programs biggest road wins against ranked teams. This will be a HUGE challenge for the Vol Offense.
Basketball notes later this week.
Time to go. Go Vols! Get those Wildcats.