Archive for the 'Georgia' Category

The view of Rocky Top, from the Classic City

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Dawg Sports‘ Kyle King has an extensive breakdown of the Tennessee Volunteers from the Georgia perspective. It’s better than anything you’ll get from the mainstream media, so head on over and check it out.

As an added bonus, you’ll find images of Johnny Knoxville, Johnny Majors, Socrates, Andy Griffith, Bill Clinton, and John Candy — all on a single page!

Two-minute drill: More SEC Media Days, receivers catching bricks, and behind the scenes with Fulmer’s stinger

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Well, the SEC Media Days has come to an end, I think, and the college sports blogosphere is sorting through the rubble. Here’s a couple of shiny objects that have distinguished themselves from the pile, at least from the VFRT perspective:

Yes, the media placed the Vols third in the SEC East. No big surprise there. Although some are picking the Gators as the team most likely to be this year’s Tennessee, the media likes them first in the East with Georgia close behind. The Volunteers were a distant third at that, garnering just five more votes than South Carolina. Whatever happens in the East, Auburn is the absolute favorite to dominate the West and win the championship game.

There were six Volunteers named to the pre-season media All-SEC team. Offensive lineman Arron Sears and defensive tackle Justin Harrell made the first team, running back Arian Foster, defensive back Jonathan Hefney, and kicker James Wilhoit made second team, and cornerback Jonathan Wade made the third team.

The national media is getting into the action as well. CBS Sportsline’s Dennis Dodd weighs in and says expect a little improvement, but not a lot, after last year’s Rocky Flop.

And the ESPN Insider Blue Ribbon preview of Tennessee is absolutely massive and includes bits of information I had not heard elsewhere, such as the fact that a new wide receiver drill involves catching bricks. That should teach you not to drop the ball and to catch with your hands. There’s also this more detailed description of Fulmer’s animated reaming of the team following Marvin Mitchell’s summer arrest:

Dealing with the law [for Mitchell] was easier than dealing with Fulmer, who had grown accustomed to the peace and tranquility afforded him by months of good behavior among his players. Fulmer went bonkers in a team meeting after Mitchell’s skirmish, screaming, throwing things and threatening to kick the next player who caused trouble off the team. True to his word, Fulmer ran off lineman Raymond Henderson a couple of days later after he made an inappropriate comment to a mother and her young daughter at a restaurant.

I guess he does have his stinger out.

Re-living the Tennessee Volunteers 2005 football season: Part 6, Georgia Bulldogs

Monday, July 24th, 2006

NOTE: You’ll need the Flash player to see portions of this post.

Pre-game

How quickly we forget. Barely two weeks after Rick Clausen’s heroic performance against LSU, the efficient but boring Ole Miss game had brought his status into question. Despite the fact that descriptions of Clausen’s “weaknesses” were quite similar to the scouting reports of highly esteemed college quarterbacks David Greene and Alex Smith, UT fans wanted some excitement, and there were already some disgruntled murmurs about Ainge being on the sidelines in a backup role to a quarterback “who could only dink it around.”

Especially with the Georgia Bulldogs coming to town. It was only the fifth game of the season, and the Vols were preparing for their third opponent ranked in the top five. A boring game against the Dawgs couldn’t possibly result in a win, could it? Was Clausen the guy to break Mark Richt’s stronghold over Phillip Fulmer? After all, it was Ainge who beat them at their place last year, wasn’t it?

A recent history of blow-out losses at home to top teams had fans nervous. Still, there were some optimists. Sure, D.J. Shockley had played well so far this season, but he hadn’t done it against quality opponents.

Then again, the Dawgs were motivated. Its biggest rivals in the SEC East – Tennessee and Florida – both had one loss already, and a win over the Vols would knock UT out of the picture and put all of the pressure on the Gators in the two-way race between Georgia and Florida for the East. Oh, and Georgia had had two weeks to prepare while Tennessee would be playing its third game in 13 days.

Nobody really knew what to expect.

The game

Note: a larger version can be seen on the Animated Drive Chart page.

The drive charts for the Georgia game really don’t tell the story as well as some of the other ones do. You can look at the first half drive lines and tell that Georgia found its groove first and put together a solid touchdown drive before proceeding to absolutely kill the Vols with field position. Except for the fumbles and interceptions, however, you don’t really get a true appreciation for the fact that Tennessee’s poor field position for the bulk of the game was primarily attributable to a host of penalties and other errors.

Note: a larger version can be seen on the Animated Drive Chart page.

Not counting the final touchdown drive, which was accomplished when the game had already been decided, the Volunteer offense had 12 meaningful possessions. They started almost half of those possessions inside their own ten yard line, two of them inside their own five. Three times, the poor field position was directly attributable to Volunteer penalties.

On four of their drives, the Vols got behind on downs, either because of penalties or other mental errors. Their good drives ended in turnovers. The entire game was a dark comedy of offensive errors, and it didn’t help that Georgia was a pretty good team.

And that wasn’t the worst of it. With one minute and thirteen seconds remaining in the first half, All-American cornerback Jason Allen positioned himself to tackle the Bulldogs’ monster tight end Leonard Pope as he was steamrolling toward the end zone. Pope barreled toward Allen low, so Allen got even lower, ending up on his knees in an attempt to get the necessary leverage. The resulting collision bent Allen over backwards, twisting his legs awkwardly underneath him. Replays showed Allen’s leg spasm involuntarily after the tackle.

At the time, no one knew the severity of the injury, and the loss of the game somehow didn’t seem as important as the loss of the much beloved cornerback who had postponed a promising NFL career to play another year for the Volunteers:

If you’re wondering what cornerback Jason Allen means to the Tennessee Volunteer Football team, well, just have a look at this picture, taken from the nosebleeds just after Allen failed to get up after making a tackle in Saturday’s game against Georgia:

When he still didn’t get up after about ten minutes, the entire team gathered in prayer:

I was sitting in the same seats last year when, again just before halftime, Erik Ainge suffered a season-ending injury to his shoulder.

That was bad.

This was worse.

We see injuries all the time. Some of them even cut short a promising college football career.

But Jason Allen last year decided to postpone a promising and lucrative NFL career to come back and play for the Vols. He didn’t intend to forego it.

Everything I’ve heard about Jason Allen is that he’s a solid, Christian young man with his priorities straight. A fierce competitor when the ball is snapped, he is the epitome of good sportsmanship, patting opponents on the backside after knocking the snot out of them. He is admired as much by those opponents as he is by his teammates.

Allen could have left school early and earned millions playing in the NFL this year, but instead, he chose to return to lead the Vols’ championship run. This season, he basically played two positions at once. He somehow racked up safety-like tackle statistics while also shutting down every opponent’s best receiver from his cornerback position. He’s led by example and vocally inspired the Vols’ secondary to show everyone that they are not the team’s greatest weakness, but one of the team’s strengths.

And there he was, lying on the turf. Surrounded by trainers. Both teams kneeling in prayer before a shocked-into-silence crowd of 108,000 fans and admirers. You could almost see the question on his face as he surveyed the crowd through watering eyes: Is this goodbye?

There’s not much information available yet about the extent of Allen’s injury. The Volunteer Nation and football fans everywhere are praying that it’s not as serious as the bent backwards, sideways twisted collision made it appear.

Tennessee fans enjoyed watching Jason Allen play four and a half games in a Volunteer uniform this season. If it’s his last for the Vols, quite frankly, that’s okay.

Just pray that being a Vol hasn’t cost him a career.

Over the course of the next week, Allen and Vol fans received some promising news regarding his hip injury.
It turned out that the hip was dislocated but not fractured, meaning that it was more like former Vol Deon Grant’s hip injury than Bo Jackson’s. Allen ended up missing the rest of his senior season, but he maintained a positive attitude throughout the ordeal and was eventually drafted by the Miami Dolphins as the 16th overall pick.

Post-game

The news for the team, however, was not so good. Tennessee had started the season ranked No. 3 in the nation with what fans thought was a legitimate shot at the national title, and now the team had lost to its top two rivals in the SEC East. Even the most enthusiastic and loyal fans started making jokes. Media types starting calling for a Big Orange Change in Philosophy.

Eventually, the shock wore off a bit, and fans realized that even after two losses the Volunteers were only mostly dead. No, they wouldn’t be really most sincerely dead until the next game. In Tuscaloosa.

Two-minute drill: VQ’s Gator preview, opponent QBs and RBs, freshmen on campus, and . . . not

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

VolQuest.com previews the Florida Gators and says that offensive linemen Jacques McClendon, Darius Myers, and Ramone Johnson are the freshmen with the best chance of making an impact this year. Johnson, by the way, has been cleared to attend the second summer session of class. Brent Vinson, on the other hand, is headed toward Hargrave Military Academy, having not made the grade on his standardized test.

Looking toward the season, UT faced some marquee quarterbacks last year, , but QB stability is, let’s say, questionable throughout the SEC this year. (HT: Georgia Sports Blog.) No, this year, says Inside Tennessee, UT’s challenge is facing stellar running backs: California’s Marshawn Lynch, Alabama’s Kenneth Darby, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden, Kentucky’s Rafael Little, and Georgia’s Thomas Brown, all of which College Football News has ranked in their national top 20. Not especially good news if your strength is the secondary and there are question marks with the front seven.

Pre-game motivational techniques

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Still traveling.

Paul Westerdawg of Georgia Sports Blog has posted a motivational video that the Georgia Bulldogs watched 90 minutes prior to the kickoff of the 2005 game against the Volunteers. It’s pretty good (from their perspective, of course), but it got me wondering.

Do the Volunteers do anything like this? I know they sometimes go to see movies together the night before, and that if the movie is something like Remember the Titans it can have a positive impact on the game the following day, but how is the team motivated just prior to kickoff? Are we relying on the old “go-get-’em” speech by the coach or a player, or are we using something new?

What do we do on game day to motivate and focus our teams on the task at hand? What do other teams do?

Anyone?

Two Minute Drill: Diploma mills, watch lists, SEC Previews, and . . . dominoes

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

Well, PowWeb ran into a “quality control” issue when attempting to migrate the site to a new platform, so it’s still in progress, but I’m going to try to sneak some stuff in quickly.

VolQuest.com helps us get to know the mysterious defensive end Chase Nelson, who is skipping the summer all-star games to prepare for the fall. Gerald Williams is back in limbo, due to the extra scrutiny the “diploma mills” are now receiving. He apparently only took one class there, and while at one point they told him he was eligible, they’re now telling him he’s not. On the radio yesterday, Williams said it was all going to work out and that he’d be on campus in July.

Justin Harrell is on the Maxwell Award watch list. And so is Erik Ainge. Really. That’s more a vote of confidence in David Cutcliffe than anything.

Inside Tennessee has some of its early previews of SEC East rivals up, including Georgia and Florida. They say that Bulldogs’ head coach Mark Richt may not call a pass play until midseason (and may not need to). On Florida, they say that last year’s offense wasn’t as good as people seem to think and that a brewing quarterback controversy might mean that it’s not much better this year. Inside Tennessee also has a nice piece on UT’s history of luring fast players onto its football field and track team, and reminds fans of Stanely Morgan, who was “the type of fast you speak of in whispers, if you speak of it at all.” <whisper>4.15</whisper>

And finally, Big Orange Michael has some advice for ESPN2: dominoes tournament? No. Pre-pre-pre-season college football coverage? Yes.

Uga v. Smokey, 555 F. Supp. 1555 (E.D. Tenn. 2006)

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Dawgsport’s Kyle King is questioning Tennessee’s ability to take care of its live mascot.  In support of this wild accusation, The Mayor has this to say:

Smokey II had to tangle with Baylor’s live bear mascot during the 1957 Sugar Bowl and Smokey VI collapsed from heat exhaustion in 1991 before passing away later that same season.

I submit that we don’t need to coddle our mascot as Smokey, unlike Uga, can take care of himself.  Smokey II tried to put the smackdown on a bear and survived.  And VI’s heat exhaustion only kicked in at 140 degrees.

To my knowledge, Uga has never come close to to assailing a wild beast.  Granted, he did snip at an Auburn player once, but I’d wager Kyle would agree that that particular varmint is much further down the food chain than a domesticated bear.  And the last time I saw Uga on t.v., he was panting like Charlie Weiss after 200 up downs and slobbering profusely into his food dish while lounging in the 75 degree shade of his doghouse.

I’d say Uga gives up the ghost at 95 degrees and soils his black and reds at the mere sight of a bear cub.

Smokey, on the other hand, can take care of himself.

Late Addition to Dawg Sports’ Great Moments in Bad Sponsorship

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Dawg Sports has a really funny post on Great Moments in Bad Sponsorship, both real and imagined.

It reminded me of the Ironic Sponsor of Knoxville’s sports talk show during last season’s 5-6 train wreck.

CFN’s top 75 college football games for next year

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

College Football News has selected the 75 most anticipated college football games for next year. Tennessee has six of the 75:

  • 45. Tennessee at Alabama, Oct. 21
  • 40. Tennessee at South Carolina, Nov. 28
  • 30. California at Tennessee, Sept. 2
  • 28. LSU at Tennessee, Nov. 4
  • 22. Tennessee at Georgia, Oct. 7
  • 10. Florida at Tennessee, Sept. 16

Tennessee Volunteer football team No. 9 in CFN’s pre-preseason poll

Friday, January 27th, 2006

College Football News has the Tennessee Volunteers ranked No. 9 in its Pre-preseason poll. Here’s how the Vols’ 2006 opponents stack up in the same poll:

  • California — No. 12
  • Air Force — No. 89
  • Florida — No. 2
  • Marshall — No. 88
  • Memphis — No. 73
  • Georgia — No. 21
  • Alabama — No. 20
  • South Carolina — No. 35
  • LSU — No. 4
  • Arkansas — No. 34
  • Vanderbilt — No. 72
  • Kentucky — No. 78