Saturday was interesting to say the least. I was extremely upset with the score, to beat a MAC school by four points and be in a dog fight in the fourth quarter is down right embarrassing. The thing that aggravates me the most is there wasn’t just one facet of the game that struggled, the whole team looked weak the entire game. This week was the first time I even saw a team pick apart our secondary a little bit. Volball reviews.
First, Nick Stephens, I would like to give this kid a hand. He did an excellent job in his first start last night. I was glad to see him check down his primary receivers and not force any balls into the wrong spots. The deep ball for the TD was impressive, I think the other long pass completed to Gerald Jones was under thrown and might not work next week between the hedges. Overall, I was impressed with Stephens play in his first game. I am sure Jonathan Crompton is crying himself to sleep but, I for one am pleased with that fact.
Next, the Offensive line, again a pretty weak performance by the guys up front. Our inability to run the football lies in the hands of the line and their inability to get a push. Also they missed a block up front which caused fumble in our own territory again this week but, I can’t blame Stephens for the turnover that was all O-line. And again the false starts are unacceptable, especially at home against a less than intimidating opponent. But without a better running game over the next month Tennessee is going to struggle to even keep games close.
Turnovers and penalties plagued the offense and left a lot of points on the field this saturday. The offense is still killing drives and stepping on their own foot. Besides the Stephens fumble Josh Briscoe also turned the ball over with a fumble. I am tempted to put this fumble on Stephens based off pass placement. Briscoe made a play to catch the ball but that ended up being the reason for the fumble when Briscoe caught the ball on the opposing defenders back. Both turnovers turned into points for the Huskies.
Special teams again a problem for the Vols. Lincoln struggled again this week with a missed field goal late in the game when points were needed. He also barely snuck in the extra point hitting the up right. And I another partially blocked field goal hurt the punting team again this week. Its about time this is no longer a delegated coaching duty. The Volunteers need a coach devoted to each of the special teams units. The can not continue to give up these types of plays, especially in the SEC where those plays will be game breakers.
I think coaching played a large part in the lack of points. The offense took to long to go to the play action pass. We had established a good short passing game which drew some press coverage from the defense. I think waiting till the second half to let Stephens throw the deep ball was to long. On the plus side Chavis coached another good game on defense never allowing Northern Illinois to feel the checkerboard. The inability to establish the run showed in the fourth quarter where we tried to pound the ball to victory, which ended up keeping NIU in the game.
Overall, I would say this game was far less than impressive, it is sad to think fans were somewhat pleased with the 4 point victory over this team. Maybe Stephens and the offense were just trying to find a groove in their first game together. But, one thing is for sure they better figure something out because the way the big orange played this saturday will not cut it next week in Athens. And if Phil doesn’t win some SEC games he will be all but out the door. Luckily I think our defense will cause Stafford some problems in the passing game next week which might keep the game closer than expected. Without an extreme change on the offensive side of the ball Tennessee will struggle to win a conference game.