Sunday, September 30, 2007

You think the sky has been falling around here........

I sort of enjoyed the day yesterday being able to sit back and watch my friends go nuts during their respective games, while I had no emotional ties to either. Then again it was just good to sit back and relax, after an emergency trip to Memphis to retrieve my wife's vehicle that decided it needed a break, i had been on the road for way too long. Rushed back into town to do the Jack's Friday night Football show with the guys. I guess it was trip lag but the show had a weird feel to it, never really settled into a zone, just sort of plugged along. Maybe it was the edge of the storm that was about to rear down on football as we know it. I think South Florida must have made a deal with the devil.

There were some big games friday night that shouldn't have been. Briarwood needed multiple overtimes to win in a game where touted QB Trotter went down to injury. I can think of no fewer than four games that were decided on the final play of the game. And that was just in our coverage area. Let me give a quick call out to the guys that put on this show. Jim Dunaway, Ryan Brown, and Blake Ells put in extra hours on Fridays to bring high school football some much needed recognition. Remember these guys have already put in five hours, then come back for three more. There is only so long you can stand and talk football. I think they push the limits of that. But the callers make the difference. Enjoy the opportunity to work with them.

Saturday was filled with surprises, some worked themselves out, and some were just unbelievable. Someone stopped me early afternoon, and informed me Tulane was hanging close with LSU. Then I turned on the Satellite radio and listened as Georgia was tied with Ole Miss. Then the Zooker left his mark, Tech left theirs, and before it was said and done, I think five teams in the top ten had lost. When has that happened? Cal and Oregon was one of the better games that no one saw. Cal benefited the most from all that happened. Auburn showed they are not as bad as they once thought they were. I will be listening Monday for all the callers that called for Tubbervilles head on a platter to offer their apologies. I saw more emotion out of him last night than I have other coaches from the same state that have that Fulmer clap. Good, bad, or indifferent he stands on the sidelines, smiles and claps. Hey Coach, yeah you the four million dollar one, you just got embarrassed on national TV, quit clapping, get an offensive line. Wilson is going to break before too long. The heart is not there anymore. Not finishing plays, not giving effort. For the majority of the game, my Alabama buddy watching the game with me was having a tough time. The best thing he had to cheer for was the penalties. Was their only chance of stopping a very resilient offense. Yep the same people that wanted to laugh at my Vols and the Tigers for wanting to eat their own, will be tying a napkin around their neck. Talk radio will be fun again this week. I pulled up all of the blogs on the website as I do every day to see any updates, and I read Donya's rants about the Auburn situation from a couple of weeks ago. She layed it on them pretty thick. Go back and read it. It is pretty funny in retrospect. I bet we won't hear much from her about her loss. Bammers are big when they win, but quiet when they don't. Aubie looks pretty good, their losses are to two pretty good teams. Bammers wins don't look like they were against teams that were very good. And the losses were the same. Georgia does not have an identity yet. But FSU has one, and it is not a good one. All in all it is a funny feeling. Not playing and having any emotions left out on the field this day, when everyone else had so many.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Although we play open this week, and I think Open is favored by thirteen actually now that I think of it. I have been doing a lot of thinking here lately about why do I even care about this crazy ride we call college football? When your team is down, it is amazing the thought process you go through. Not thinking of who stands in our way of the championship, it is more like..."OOOh pretty colors." Let our team lose a couple of games and we all turn in to a block of lunchroom jell-o. If we get enough pressure on one side we will move that way. "Fire the coaches! Bench Him, Hell if he is gonna be the starter next year let's get him some playing time!" Doesn't take much and we are spewing the same Garbage as beat writers in Oklahoma. But why? Where did it all come from?

For me, I am not sure exactly where my first football memories came from? My dad was not a fanatic. Sure he would watch the Alabama game if he was home and had nothing he had to do. But his life did not revolve around it. My first real influences, and I guess the majority of all my football roots were colored orange and blue. Our family was a faithful church attending family beginning around my eighth birthday or so. It was like most Baptist churches, adults in the big church, and in the back we had "Children's Church." This was lead by two giants in my life. A man named Jack Tolbert, and a caring woman by the name of Gladys Stephens. (They later married, many years later, and they were in their fifties at this time) Both were employed at the Super Valu warehouse in Golden Springs, Al, and both were big Auburn Supporters. Notice I didn't say fans, yeah there is a difference. They were season ticket holders. On the press box side, I wanna say about the twenty yard line. Remember it has been twenty five years ago. On the weekends of home games they would take a couple of the kids from the church with them to the game. This was the ultimate to a youngster, Remember it was 1982 or so, And at that time, I didn't know ANYONE that went to ballgames. Now it seems odd if you know someone that doesn't go. I mean I drive five hours to Gods country in East Tennessee to see football. We may not have streets of gold, but we have orange in the endzones. Ok back to childhood. The biggest thing I remember about the games is that you had to bring something back to prove you had been there. To an eight year old sitting in that HUGE stadium, there were two things I wanted. One was the little football puppets. Was a player with no facemask, and it had two levers inside that you worked to make his fists shoot out. I think he usually had a pennant in one hand. Man I wanted one of those. But it was like forty dollars. That was half of what a car cost back then! So I settled for the next best thing. A hat. Whoa hang on now, it wasn't just any old hat. It was a painters cap. Bought at J&M bookstore. Hey it was cool. Had a big interlocking AU symbol on the top and Auburn spelled out across the front right above the Cardboard bill. Ok Twenty five years ago it was the coolest thing to have. You know there were more of us kids back then that were Auburn fans when we came home on Saturday night. You reckon why that was? My orange and blue tendencies didn't stop there. When I was older and in high school, there was another friend from church that was a huge Auburn supporter. His name was Ira Lynn Collins. A huge football fan from Wellborn High School. He was my older sisters age which made him about nine or ten years older than me. He too had season tickets. Opposite of the press box, five or six rows from the top of the stadium, forty nine and a half yard line. We would call me up on Friday evening, ask if I had plans Saturday and ask if I wanted to go see Auburn play. We would go down, hang out, go to Tiger walk and talk to a player from Wellborn we knew, Tight End named Victor Hall. #87 I think. He had a cousin that was a huge recruit but never played I don't think William McCain. This would have been somewhere around the late eighties. Even got to see Victor catch his first touchdown in a televised game against Georgia at night. Went to the Peach Bowl to see them play Indiana, and saw my last game with Ira in the fall of 1992 when i went to my first Alabama game, the iron bowl at Legion Field. We sat close to the AU students and band, which was right over Bama's tunnel, where they could yell D U I at David Palmer at halftime. Remember AU came out on the field in a single file line walking with their helmets in their hand raised high above their heads. I think this was the first time I got chills at a football game. Turns out that was a pretty special year for Bama. I remember going to a bookstore in Tuscaloosa and buying a Sports Illustrated that featured the Championship. Remember watching that championship game against Miami in the managers little raised platform in the Winn Dixie in Saks where I worked during high school. A couple of years later I was at the first Iron Bowl ever played in Jordan-Hare, well sorta but not really, I was in Bryant Denny for the first time, to watch it on a huge screen via closed circuit TV. I guess when I stop and think about it, I got this love of the game honest. From a couple of gentle souls, Jack and Gladys, who cared enough to give some of us kids the only look at football we would have seen. To people like Ira or "Lurch" as we called him, who took a teenager who was struggling with a tough life at home. He never knew it, or maybe he did. Either way, thank you my friend. He took a job out of town and I haven't talked to him in probably twelve or fifteen years. Now I try to do the same. I took my step father to his first game. He is a big Bama fan, I took him to Knoxville for the third Saturday in October in 2004. For Christmas that year I had a picture blown up and mounted of him and the mascot smokey. Was his favorite gift he has ever gotten. I always take someone from the other team with me when I go to a game. Is what it is all about to me. Another subject but I took my mom to her first game. But she is a Braves fan. As big a fan as I am a Tennessee Vol, she loves her Chipper and Braves. Took her to a game one Tuesday against the Marlins. Third base side, about twelve or so rows up from the dugout. It was her greatest moment. Now she goes every year. Couple of years ago, got to be there for them to clinch the pennant. Got to be a part of the celebration.

Is moments like these that make use who we are. Our first game, our first foul ball, playing cup ball on the hill at a high school game with a piece of paper from the sign the players ran through coming onto the field. Like a seed the started to grow, into what we know now as a passion unlike any other. Some call us fanatics, some call us lunatics, some call us lucky. We are living the dream my friends. Living the good life. Now if someone would just tell that to our good for nothing coach. That no good...... what time is it....... Where is my phone I am gonna call him and tell him.............

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Holding Ground, Nothing Different

I tell you what it has been pretty hectic the past couple of weeks, and my blog has suffered. I apologize. With the new friday night high school show, I have stayed pretty busy during the week. But have to admit, the loss to Florida last week took some wind out of my football sails. But the stars aligned tonight and all is right with the world. Tennessee has won a game that scared me. A team that stayed close to Texas, but we proved to be a little scrappy. More important the Bionic coach faced his first Bammer loss. Thank you, there is a Football god somewhere. And apparently he listens to our prayers. I don't recall anything questionable that the loss could be blamed on, simply outplayed when it counted. Lets see what the Savior says and does now. I wanna see him face adversity and stare it in the eye.

Some said that Houston Nutt's seat is hotter than Fulmer's. Did not agree with that yesterday, today I do. This is a team that was on the outside looking in for so long, now that they have a taste of the limelight I expect the will make an effort to stay there. I know we always said as long as Frank Broyles was there as would Nutt be. I am starting to feel otherwise. I think there is the chance that the new AD walks in the door swinging an axe.

That is the effect the hiring of Nick Saban has had on the SEC. It has shortened the trigger we have with our coaches. If you have a couple of sub-national championship seasons you pull that trigger on him and go after someone that can get that next trophy. But who would go to Arky? I think the only sexy choice, is McFadden. That is the only way he comes back for another season. Player/Coach. He can fix up that Hoopty they keep showing us during the games.

On that same thought the inner rambles have finally started getting some national attention. The Orange nation has been saying for about two years that they wanted Chucky. The two names have been Gruden and Cower. Neither do I think would entertain the thought. But I never thought the Bionic one would do it either. But if not them then who. It is going to have to be a jaw dropping sexy name to fit the persona. Bruce Pearl raised the bar. I keep hearing Rich Rodriguez name come up. I think it is a better fit than bammer was, but it doesn't excite me. Don't really know. I think it needs to be a Defensive Guru. Not sure if Cutcliffe would stay, if he did I think we need the same intensity on the other side of the ball. Me personally, I would rather see them clean house. If one goes they all go.

We have the week off. Which is good considering the next team on the schedule is Georgia. They looked strong last night against Bammer. Had some weaknesses, but over all was impressed with them. they have a rejuvenated "O" miss this week before traveling north to Fort Neyland. Should be a good one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A program at the Crossroads.

If you are visiting my Blog it is because you have been here before, know I will step out and write what I think, or you hear me on the Dunaway and Brown radio show, and are here to see if I am jumping ship. Well here goes.

First off I will say up front, I am still proud to be a Tennessee VOL! That will never change, unless we pull a stunt like Rutgers students did last week, then, I will still be a VOL, but not so proudly. The 7inch by 7inch tattoo on my left arm assures me that I will always be Orange in nature. But it is no surprise, everything is not right with the world in Knoxville. As a matter of fact, there is very little right. First let me give out some helmet stickers. The few that did something right. Daniel Lincoln, the freshman kicker from Florida. Is so far perfect as a college placekicker. He is one of the only givens so far on this team. Second sticker, goes to Freshman phenom Eric Berry out of Georgia. He is a star. He got burned for 6 today, but he also took 6 back on a 96 yard int. return. Ummm that is about it. yup, that is all of the good.

Where is the Erik Ainge that won me over last year. Where is the Offensive Coordinator that brought us back to the spotlight. That took the talent in our QB's and made it shine. There was nothing about the Offense that shined, except for our flaws. Dropped passes. One on third down, that cost us 6 on the punt that ensued. Also the running game that I was so confident in, did not show up. There was no picking apart of the secondary. To steal a line from the Auburn post game show, "When are we gonna get to taste a little chocolate in our offense? Because it cannot get any more Vanilla." Three different times in the first quarter we were in the red zone, never once taking a shot to the end zone. One time trying to insult the defense with a bad reverse that lost eight yards. Thirty five yards rushing. The holder on extra points should have that many yards rushing. The defense has noone in the front lines that can put pressure on the quarterback. No Parys, no Mahalona. NOONE.

I think we need to have the cheerleaders on kick coverage. Maybe that will at least slow down the return enough that someone can touch him. COME ON!!!!

Bottom line.

We need a change. Not today. But I think this needs to be the swan song of this coaching staff. Not on account of the loss today, but this was the breaking point. The game has passed us by. We are trying to play old school football, and it not working. I never thought I would say this, But I think it should be the entire staff. We lost today, in my opinion, because of coaching. Play calling on offense was laughable. Defense looks like a screen door it has so many holes. There is no sense of urgency. No emotions. With the exception of Trooper Taylors chest bumps, there is no emotion. Our fearless leader stands on the sidelines smiles, and claps. And claps. And Claps. Keep grinning Phil. You know who is grinning right now? Randy Sanders. He wasn't the problem!!!! His work in Kentucky shows that.

Year after year we recruit well. Top five class year after year. But that does not translate to on the field success. If the talent is there, but the results are not, where does the blame lie? I think you know.......... I will hang up and listen.......

nuff said

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coach Fulmer's Media Day Comments

“Our entire football team and staff is really excited about this opportunity that we have to play a really outstanding University of Florida football team. We have made progress from game one to game two. It was encouraging from a fundamental standpoint, and that is one area I am absolutely going to insist that we make strides in. If you’re not careful, particular when you play a different style of offense, you can lose sight of the fundamentals and blocking and tackling and being responsible for your position and your assignment. We’re going to work very hard this week to make sure we stay on that track. I think it is a track that we need to be on the entire football season, being as young as we are and the challenges we have with some of the youth out there.
“I do think that playing two tough opponents will help us. Certainly, we’re going into an environment at Florida Field that is considerably different than even Cal was, which I think helped us. We need to understand that the decibel level will be considerably higher and we’ve got to be able to handle that, which is no different than when people come into Neyland Stadium.
“Florida is a very fine football team. Again, they’re outstanding on offense and defense and a really good team in the kicking game. Playing on the road always has its challenges. We’ve been a good road team through the years. We are working diligently to continue to find our balance from an offensive standpoint. I thought the second half of the Southern Miss game was more like we would like to look. We will do what we need to do to move the football, whether that’s with the passing game and ball control that way or if we have an opportunity to run the football, we will work toward that. I don’t think last year we called (the run) nearly enough in the ball game, even though at the end of the third quarter we were leading 17-7. Its not how you get there, it’s just a matter that you get there.
“Offensively, we’ll have to do a great job of managing their two outstanding defensive ends, (Derrick) Harvey and (Jermaine) Cunningham; both guys that we tried to recruit. They lost a lot of people, but you sure can’t tell it from watching the tape. They are a very gifted team. We’ve got to make our plays. One of the places that we’ve made really good strides since spring practice is at wide receiver. I think it showed up really nicely in the Southern Miss game. They played solid in both games, and I’m proud of those guys. They will certainly have an impact on this game if Florida tries to play a lot of man-to-man and pack it in. We have our challenges there. The running game, as I said, is crucial. You go back and see that the team that has rushed the best has won the most games. Well, you can look at any big game, and that’s usually the case. We want to try and find our balance there.
“Their offense centers on their outstanding quarterback, (Tim) Tebow. He is a really special football player, a big guy that can run and throw it. We’ll certainly have to do a good job with them. The wide receivers are special; the offensive line is very good. (Cornelius) Ingram is a guy that they call a tight end, but he is really a wide receiver playing tight end. He is just a really outstanding player. We’ve got to tackle well. We’ve got to play good assignment football because of the potential for the option and the other things that we will see.
“In practice, we started work yesterday. It is really important that we see, as close as we can, the speed from our scout team. We’re actually sending our second team down there to give us some looks at close to their speed, the speed of the option, the speed of the wide receivers; on the other side, the speed of their rushers, the defensive ends particularly.
“It’s always a big ball game. It has been since the start of divisional play. There are a lot of consequences to this football game always. I think us having played two physical football teams will be a plus for us. Certainly, playing on the road was a plus for us when we went to Cal. It won’t be foreign to 26 young guys that we took on the road for the first time against Cal.
“We are still working to get more of our young guys involved. I’m really happy with the progress that Chris Walker has made at defensive end. To this point we have played four defensive ends and four defensive tackles. I would like to get that to five or six defensive ends and five or six defensive tackles. Ben Martin is returning. I’m anxious to see today if his knee is back close to 100 percent.
“In Brent’s (Vinson) case, we made the decision on Sunday after we found out about Antonio Gaines, to play him both ways. He has considerable background in the secondary, and we worked him there quite a bit in camp. He’s just one of those guys that can be a natural. We’re not going to ask him to do everything that they do, but he is going to play both ways for us.
“To this point, the depth in our offensive line is paying dividends for us. Those guys went in and were on a really nice drive and provided our team a lift. I’m hoping they’ll continue to make those strides and we can play more guys that way.
“Certainly, kicking will play a very important role in this game. I think Britton (Colquitt) will be there and ready to go this weekend. I’m really anxious to see Daniel Lincoln go on the road and handle himself.”

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Home Opener (or What Reciever issues?)

Watching the game last night I saw a few things that stick out to me. First, our PPV coverage on the "Vol Network" is absolutely awful. You could not see the players numbers or names, half the time it looked as if the entire screen was a piece of aluminum foil. It is bad. Is this the best you guys can do?

The defense still has some issues. We did get a couple of key stops and did force turnovers, but we also allowed some major yardage. What makes this game worse than the Cal game was where the yards came from. We showed a lack of run defense in the first game. Against Southern Miss we gave up only ninety yards. Forty-eight of that going to the QB Young. What worries me is that I thought we had a fairly solid pass defense. With a lot of talent and experience in the linebackers and secondary that was our strength. We gave up 264 yds passing with 127 going to one receiver including a sixty-nine yard touchdown. What the???? We did though, only allow 108 yards of offense and 3 pts in the second half. Really have to work on some holes in the defense, because from what I have seen Florida is pretty stellar on offense, I do not want to get into a gunslinger type shootout with them.

Offensively we looked pretty solid again. thirty-nine points on a pretty balanced offensive front. With 193 yards rushing and 276 yards passing with only two late turnovers I was pretty pleased. Erik was a very efficient 23 of 36 with two touchdowns and still NO INTERCEPTIONS. Arian Foster looked good with 125 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. Now to the SHOCKER for some, we had a great night receiving. Ainge spread the ball around and picked the Golden Eagle Defense apart. Three receivers stepped up to the line and took the reins in leading the offense. Meachem, Swain,and Smith are back? Nope. Let me introduce you to Lucas Taylor, Austin Rogers, and Josh Briscoe. They combined for two touchdowns, with Rogers and Taylor both amassing over 100 yards apiece (112 rogers, 118 taylor.) Maybe piece by piece we are starting to put this thing together. "The potential has always been there, so we aren't shocked that they're where they're supposed to be every time," Ainge said about his new top pass catchers.

Special Teams also showed some signs of life. And it came from some unexpected role players. For the first time in recent memory, we did not have a Colquitt handling punts. I understand the bloodline will only last so long, but it was weird to see. Still sore from a pulled quad muscle Britton, remained on the sidelines. Daniel Lincoln also stepped up to the plate and was perfect from the field on both field goals and PATs. Fulmer said he opted not to use Colquitt for punting or kicking responsibilities because he was still sore from punting in the Cal game with a lingering muscle pull. Fulmer said he was pleased with how Lincoln and punter Chad Cunningham have performed in his place.
"Lincoln, our young kicker, and Cunningham, our young punter, came through for us," Fulmer said. "Britton might have been able to play, but we took the chance that the youngster would get it done."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Southern Mississippi Comes to Town

Week one is behind us. Nothing we can do about it. Gotta look forward. Got a couple of tough ones here in the next two weeks, and we have to take them very seriously.

Southern Miss comes to town to continue a long standing tradition, they have played an at least one SEC opponent every year since 1964. they are 34-95-3 against the top league in the land. Head Coach Jeff Bower has played an SEC foe twenty-six times, all on the road, registering a record of 4-22.
Tennessee enters the game 45-4 all time against Conference USA schools, including a perfect 32-0 at home. Under Phil Fulmer they are 13-1. The Vols have a perfect 4-0 record against Southern Miss, all meetings coming in Knoxville. Tennessee is looking to make this the 13th consecutive victory in their home opener.

"If you didn't know anything and you just said, 'Southern Miss vs. Tennessee,' then people would say, 'Oh, Tennessee should win,"' UT quarterback Erik Ainge said. "But if you look at the film and watch their players, they have a lot of good guys on defense."
Southern Miss will play anybody, anytime. And anything can happen. Since 2000, the Golden Eagles have defeated Alabama, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. They have played games at Florida, Virginia Tech and Penn State. No one expects Southern Miss to walk into Neyland Stadium wide-eyed.
The Golden Eagles also hope to add to UT's disturbing recent trend. The past two seasons have seen the Vols struggle against unranked, out-of-conference teams early in the schedule. In 2005, they opened the season by hosting UAB, but barely scratched out a 17-10 win. Last season, Air Force came into Neyland Stadium and almost walked out a winner before UT pulled out a 31-30 victory.

The vols have got to continue to move the ball on offense. But in a new twist the Chavis led defense has to learn to stop the run and establish some dominance on defense. Good luck guys, lets get through this one injury free, and make it thirteen in a row.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The world did not end!

I can tell all of those concerned that you can take me off of suicide watch for a few days. (Check back on Sunday morning) Do I think we will be OK? Sure. Do I think Coach Fulmer will survive this year? I think so but there are those that are not as level headed as I am. Sunday morning I was thinking, "You know maybe 2005 wasn't really that bad. I mean we did beat LSU. I wonder if we really can get Gruden or Cower to coach the Vols?"

But I have cleared my head, we will be fine. Cal is a great team. I think by week four or five they will be a top five team. We looked good on offense. Defense has some holes. Special teams is a concern for the thirty ninth straight year. Southern Miss will be tough one. I can only hope that they are ready. I don't think they want to feel what the orange nation will say or do if they lose that one. Time will tell.