Let’s talk Replacements.

So with all the buzz about the Phillip Fulmer hot seat you have to think who does Tennessee need to go out and get to bring Big Orange football back to greatness.  There is no question in my mind it is time for Tennessee to clean house, I say empty the offices and leave nothing in the locker room but the players.  There have already been names thrown around to take the throne in Knoxville, its time that I review my own top choices to raise the proverbial ship from the depths.  Personally I want to get someone who has never seen the likes of Southeastern Conference football, a rising star or a NFL great.  Those are my two options and here are my top 5 prospects in no particular order.  Volball hires.

Kyle Whittingham

Why:  Whittingham has done an excellent job at Utah.  He has been the head coach for three season in Ute country and has lead them to three bowl games, and won all three.  They have broken into the top 25 this college football year and are sitting at #14 right now with BCS buster potential.  Prior to serving as head coach at Utah Whittingham was the school’s defensive coordinator for 10 years.  Kyle Whittingham was offered the head coaching position after you guessed it Urban Myer took over at Florida.  People haven’t mentioned this name a whole bunch and it probably won’t happen but, I am praying Mike Hamilton looks out West for this sleeping giant.

Butch Davis

Why:  Davis is a fiery coach currently located at the University of North Carolina, a great job no doubt but, Tennessee would be an excellent step up for this Tarheel.  Davis has proven himself in the college ranks and knows how to create winning college football teams.  He has the Carolina flying high this season as a top 25 team.  He has won Super Bowls with the Cowboys and a National Championship with the Miami Hurricanes as an assistant coach both places.  The man knows how to win, this is a quality we need at the University of Tennessee right now.  Davis’ name has already been thrown around some posting on the internet and it has this Vol fan smiling. 

Jon Gruden

Why:  Intensity.  Gruden has it and I want it.  Its no secret Tennessee lacks intensity on the sidelines with head coach Phillip Fulmer.  The simple fact is players want to play for a coach that is as emotional, passionate, and heavy hearted, for example Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Urban Meyer.  Gruden has that spark and not only that spark but ties to Rocky Top as well.  Gruden received his masters from Tennessee and his wife is an Alum as well.  He has already said this is a college coaching interest of his and would welcome the opportunity.  He won a Super Bowl in his very first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not saying he could take us to the top right out of the gate but you never know.  

Will Muschamp

Why: Muschamp is fiery one.  You may see a trend in my picks by now.  He has experience in the SEC from a defensive stand point and is looking for a big time head coaching position.  Currently he is sitting pretty as the defensive coordinator for the #1 ranked Texas Longhorns.  Most of all, he is YOUNG!  Muschamp is a ripe 37 years of age.  He played at Georgia and understands what it takes to win football games.  He knows how to recruit like a beast as well, something we need right now with Big Orange recruiting on a downhill slide.  I say its unlikely we will see Mr. Muschamp on the sidelines but, this Vol fan would be beemin’ if we did.

Lane Kiffin

Why: Sure not a lot of success in the NFL with the Raiders but, talk about success with the University of Southern California Trojans.  What can you say, in 2005 Kiffin took over the duties as offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and receivers coach for the Trojans.  The man is a beast.  And another youngster, only 31 years of age.  Definitely a fresh face who knows the ranks of college football.  And after developing names like Matt Leinhart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarret, and Steve Smith can you really argue this guy knows talent.  He didn’t get them there but he did use them to the best of their ability, something Tennessee is struggling with right now.  And although he didn’t get those players to USC, in Kiffin’s 3 year stent as recruiting coordinator the Trojans had the nations #1 recruiting class all three years!

Now that I have told you my top 5 prospects I have to give you my do nots for Tennessee football.  The coaches I am begging Mike Hamilton not to call in the coming weeks.  As I said I want someone on the rise, someone looking for their start, or someone who has been to the top.  Nothing mediocre, if you haven’t noticed ever since 1998 we have been mediocre.  If you want mediocre we don’t need to spend any money, its on our sidelines every Saturday. Now the do nots. Volball says no!

Steve Spurrier

Why: Are you kidding me? You call yourself a Tennessee fan? Obviously you are not if you are considering the Old Ball Coach as an option for the Big Orange.  Spurrier was a cold blooded reptile for a full decade, a Gator thru and thru.  There should be no coach Tennessee fans hate more, although Urban Meyer is climbing higher and higher with every win.  Sure he is a great football coach, there is no doubt about that.  But, based off principle alone you should not turn to this man to cure the cold in Knoxville.

David Cutcliffe

Why: Thats right folks I said it.  No way, I can’t turn to Mr. Cutcliffe.  There is no other man I want in Knoxville more than Coach Cut.  But, not at the helm.  He is a great Offensive Coordinator and he turns decent Quarterbacks into stars.  Despite being a great offensive mind I don’t see him being a GREAT head coach.  He had a decent run a Ole’ Miss and some argue he didn’t have the time to take the program as far as he could have.  He may not have had ample time, those folks may be right.  I just don’t see Coach Cut taking us to a National Title as a head coach.  Sorry everyone, I realize he is a front runner but, he definitely is not for this Big Orange fan.

Lovie Smith

Why: Discpline.  The Vols already have a problem with keeping their youngsters out of trouble.  Smith has made excuses for players like Lance Briggs and Tank Johnson.  I really don’t want a guy coming into Knoxville who has placed his players above the law, EVER.  For me how a coach disciplines a football team and/or handles his team is the biggest thing for me as a fan.  I have before and continue to make the argument that discipline is the single best thing a head coach can bring to an organization.  It keeps players focused, grounded, and real.  In today’s college football world you see players, teams, and even coaches thinking they are larger than life and that is unacceptable.  That is what Lovie brings to the table in my book, his Bears thought they were larger than life while Tony Dungy’s Colts went about their business. Result was not a Super Bowl title for Lovie’s Bears.

I as much as anyone am ready for a change in the Tennessee coaching staff.  That is not to say I don’t appreciate and acknowledge what Phillip Fulmer has done for Tennessee football.  Phil has bleed Orange for three decades, he has played, coached, and loved everything about Knoxville ever since he stepped into the city.  I am just ready for a new age in Tennessee football, I think a new coaching staff is the best move at this point.  And although I have continued to write about the needed change on Rocky Top my thoughts are with Phil and his family during this extremely tough time.  

Until next time. Go Vols. Keep reading. Volball out.

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Next four weeks. Make or BREAK.

The next month will no doubt make or break head coach Phillip Fulmer’s job security at the University of Tennessee. Four straight SEC tests, splitting the four in half, two home two away. Now some say calling for Fulmer’s job is not right given his history at the University of Tennessee.  History aside, Fulmer will show fans and players what he is really made of the next month.  The Volunteers have a seemly impossible schedule in front on them.  

First, the Bulldogs between the hedges.  Despite your recent Kingsford commercials Georgia hasn’t proved they are the better football team in the last couple of years.  This has been Fulmer’s fall back game.  It seems over the last few years he has crawled his way out of the grave with wins over the Dawgs.  The Volunteers have taken care of business in this rivalry even in Athens, where in their last visit the struggling Volunteers dropped half a hundred on the dawgs.  But, the Dawgs are coming off a by week and frustrating loss to the Crimson Tide.  They need to get back on track, and lets just say the Vols are the track Georgia is the train. Chu-Chu!

Next, the Vols have Mississippi State.  This will be no easy test like your average Mississippi State game.  It is quite evident that the Vols have no easy games on their schedule after the romping of Northern Illinois.  The State bulldogs played Auburn to a 3-2 loss which obviously attests to their defense, and lets face it the Volunteer offense isn’t carving up D’s this season.  To earn a win for the Big Orange Faithful things will have to change in a hurry.

Then, the third Saturday in October.  Does anything really need to be said about Saban and the Crimson Tide?  I will be honest, that is the kind of coach I want at my school.  The man doesn’t celebrate for a minute, the Volunteers have been celebrating for ten years.  Or at least the lone national championship has saved Phil for that long.  Its time that we forget about the history and think about the future.  Saban is the future, and he is going to make history of Phil and the Vols in Knoxville, losses are not an option for Nick Saban and his football team.  When are we going to stop looking in the rear view?

The last leg, off to South Carolina to the Gamecocks home turf.  Its no secret the Old Ball Coach is a nemesis of Phillip Fulmer.  South Carolina is fresh off a victory against the Rebels of Ole’ Miss who knocked off the same Gators who dominated the Big Orange in Knoxville.  The Gamecocks are finally healthy and improving. Plus by this time we are going to have one tired football team.  

If I was a betting man their is no way I would put money on Tennessee in any of these games, not even against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, on homecoming, in Neyland Stadium.  Without a big turn around of the offense and special teams their is no way the Volunteers get victories in these tough SEC games.  

My question Volunteers fans, when do you start routing for losses?  I know I know.  You say never but, lets be honest here one or two upset wins will feel good now but, how will you feel next year with another lack luster season.  The fact is all it will take is one big upset win and one mediocre upset and Phil will again have job security, that is something I can not be happy with.  All I hear is buy out this buy out that, please the Tennessee Athletic Department has some deep pockets and 6 million is pocket change.  And tell me that upset Alumni won’t help fit that bill.  You better believe their are some Vol Alum that can’t stand what they have seen the past five saturdays.  Heck I will give some money to get Phil out of there, and you can quote me on that. The Volunteers are now the doormat of the SEC and its down right unacceptable.

The University of Tennessee like it or not is built around or central figure, and that is Neyland Stadium.  The winning tradition and fall saturday afternoon is losing its luster in a hurry.  Rival games are turning into embarrassments, cheers to boos, tickets to empty seats, touchdowns to interceptions, wins to losses,  and football to basketball.  I seem to encourter some random person every week who wants to talk Tennessee football with me, this week, a doctor during a visit.  You know what that man said, “basketball season can’t come soon enough.”  I never thought I would hear that statement from a Big Orange fan.

VolBall. Till next time, Go Big Orange!

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Big Win.

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.

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Down to Earth.

Finally a reality check for Jonathan.  This week I will review the quarterback controversy.  How can I not talk about it? It only took two weeks to long to long to consider Stephens or Coleman for that matter for the job.  Finally the coaching staff has put Crompton in his place opening up the position for quarterback this week.  My question, is this for real?  Is the spot really open or is this just a shot at Crompton, a boot in the butt to get this kid going.  Although how much more motivation can you really give the kid after losses to UCLA and Florida he still didn’t get anything going at Auburn.  I mean come on the kid has twice as many picks as he does TDs.  He completes 50% of his passes on a good day. 

In the last week or so I have been doing my research on this kid and it is shocking to say the least.  Comes out of high school as Scout.com’s 3rd ranked QB out of high school behind Mark Sanchez and Ryan Perrilloux.  Really? What the heck happened?  Given Perrilloux got kicked off of the Bayou Bengals but Mark Sanchez is a beast.  To even think that at some point Crompton’s name was mentioned in the same sentence is laughable.

So far this season my main complaint has been is over confidence in himself.  Finally this week whether he gets the start or not we have finally seen that tone down a bit.  He finally has realized he isn’t the QB he thinks he is after the 1-3 start.  I think its possible his head has found daylight for the first time this season, it has been elsewhere so far. 

Now, Nick Stephens, I won’t come out and say this kid will be the savior for this season because I don’t believe he will be.  At this point I believe the season can’t be saved.  Sure maybe with this kid at the helm we could spoil a few seasons but thats about it.  The fact is has this have happened a game and a half ago at halftime of the Florida game this season might have been salvageable but, that is no longer the case.  This football should be 3-1 not the other way around.  The key for Stephens will be to realize he can not bring this team back to glory he needs to relax and get the ball to the play makers. Safely!  Hopefully he has taken notes on Jonathan’s week in and week out attempt to play beyond himself.  

The thing I have like about this kid so far is his personality.  He seems to have a firm grasp on the situation, and for me the biggest thing, he hasn’t tried to sell himself to anyone.  Supposedly coach Clawson is all about character.  Well if thats the case I hope he is giving credit where it is due.  This week Nick Stephens has handled countless interviews and sensitive questions with the utmost care and professionalism.

Overall, I am extremely interested to see if this is a stunt or for real.  I haven’t decided which it is yet.  Luckily I will be finding out in person this Saturday when I walk into what I am sure will be a less than capacity Neyland Stadium.  Yup, thats right through all the shame and criticism I am going to pay for another tank of gas, another ticket, and a whole lot of beverages, which is obviously going to be the key to getting through this season Vol fans.  Until next time this is VolBall signing off.

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Offensive Woes Continue

Before discussing the Volunteers game I will mention another.  Florida upset by Ole’ Miss at the Swamp!  The Rebels made us look even worse today going into Florida Stadium and taking it to the Gators.  Ole’ Miss came out with twice the fire and intensity this week than the Volunteers did last week.  The Rebels kicked to Brandon James 9 times in their game this Saturday and all but shut down James, we only kicked to him 6 times and surrendered a touchdown and another huge return.  I suppose wins like today’s for the Rebels are why they had better recruiting this past off season than the Volunteers despite the recruiting budget. Did you know The Mississippi Rebels have beaten the Gators more times than the Vols since 2002? Interesting.

Now, lets move on to this weekends game.  Another loss as the Vols move to 1-3 on the year and the bottom of the barrel in the SEC.  The big orange could not move the ball what so ever, Crompton has been proven again this week as a completely ineffective quarterback.  With Crompton at the helm I see a less than five hundred season on the horizon, I think its time Phil gives Nick Stephens or B.J. Coleman a look, its only fair at this point. The game as a whole wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be thanks to our defense playing a great game.  And now lets break down each aspect of the game.

Offense, complete junk with Crompton taking the snaps again this week.  He is completely inadequate as a passer and despite what we heard about his legs I continually see him get dropped behind the line when he tucks the ball under.  Crompton threw only 8 completions out of 23 attempts which only produced 67 yards.  The running game got going early which was nice until Auburn realized that is all the Vols had and stacked the box with 8 and 9 defenders and that is when the offense stopped.  We had seven three and outs during this game, if that doesn’t tell the story I don’t know what does. But if you need more we were only converted 4 third downs out of 14 tries against Auburn.  Again I will indicate my disgust with Arian Foster and Jonathan Crompton this week after another exchange problem.  The Volunteers had similar fumble cost them six against Florida last week and obviously didn’t fix the problem before this week. At least Phil made Foster learn his lesson as we saw very little of him the remainder of the game.  The G-Gun did a decent job moving the ball with the run, but I still believe the Volunteers have to let Gerald throw the ball before it will reach its full potential and one throw which was dropped after hitting Lucas Taylor in the hands hardly qualifies.  And it should be noted that the only offensive touchdown came off a Dennis Rogan interception which gave the offense a very short field of 37 yards.

Hats off to the defense this week, the D only surrendered 7 points to the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Credit the other seven to the offense.  The defense can’t do much else when they held Auburn to 226 yards of total offense. Auburn was only 6 for 18 on third downs thanks to the D this week.  Again the secondary played an amazing game snatching another interception making that 8 on the year which is fourth in NCAA football.  Some missed tackles here and there plagued the defense in stopping runs behind the line of scrimmage and cost the Vols one or two sacks.  

On to Special Teams, first off great job by Cunningham pinning the Tigers three times inside the five yard line.  Although it did make me a little nervous that Auburn almost blocked three punts this afternoon, especially after seeing the punt block for a TD against UCLA.  Last week I said I would like to see Gerald Jones return some punts, and this week that came true for me this week, and he did make a big play with a long return in the second half but, surprise surprise a three and out followed suit.  Never really gave up a big return which was a change, good adjustments there.  I would also like to give props to Daniel Lincoln who kicked his first field goals since the misses at UCLA, he went two for two from 47 and 35.  

Now to coaching, again simple mistakes cost the Volunteers the game with the fumble and some more personal fouls to go along with the turnover.  I have to say that this team lacks discipline when a blatent hit out of bounds gives Auburn fifteen more yards.  Peyton Manning said it best, “bonehead plays costing this team games.”  That couldn’t be a more true statement.  The offensive adjustments were nonexistent after Auburn committed to stopping the run.  I will give John Chavis some credit for bringing the defense in ready to play.  And I have to say if Phil doesn’t make the executive decision to take out Crompton and give someone else a shot it is going to cost him his job.  I don’t put a whole lot on Fulmer after this loss but when your team is one and three all fingers point to the coaches and that is still the direction mine points as well.

Overall the fact is the Volunteers have suffered another loss, they are almost like two different football teams, with a different team on each side of the ball.  This week should be an easy win with Northern Illinois coming to town. But without a complete turn around of this football team we will be staring a 2 and 4 start in the face with a game at Georgia in two weeks.  This is going to be a rough season Vol fans. Until next time Volball out.

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The Jokes on Us.

So if you haven’t heard them lets review.

-Phillip Fulmer resigns as head coach of Tennessee Vols to work with FEMA, apparently Congress was so impressed with Fulmers ability to clear out 107,00 they offered him a job immediately.

-National Weather service has issued a Tornado Warning and is ordering everyone to Neyland Stadium where there is no chance of a touchdown.

With jokes like this on top of the normal Phil fat jokes its getting tough to handle.  And personally I am sick of it.  But please comment if you have anymore, I just like to get upset at these amazing pokes at UT football, makes me so proud.

 

Besides that I suppose I will give the VolBall take on this weekends game.  Well like last weekend my outlook is grim, I think the Vols stand little chance this weekend but then again you never know, look at the Beavers.  The biggest problem is going to be Auburn’s defense versus our offense, this spells trouble for the big orange.  The Tigers lead the nation in third down stops with only a 11% success rate for opposing offenses, with LSU’s 4 total first downs was the most in one game against the Tigers.  And when you look at that stat compared to Cromton’s turnover stats on third down you have to think this weekend smells like more turnovers.

I think this game is going to be a straight defensive show, and our D is going to have to come up big. Again it won’t be our pass defense that I am worried about with our extremely talented secondary I think it is possible Eric Berry and the boys will find the end zone before the offense. But, the run defense and the line backing core does worry me, I think Auburn’s Ben Tate is going to present a big problem for the Tennessee defense. 

And how can we forget special teams, I don’t care what Phil says this has been a problem at Tennessee for quite some time.  To be honest I don’t even know who returns for Auburn but does it really matter? We have a habit of giving up the big return in big games.  My question is can the coverage teams turn this around?

As for the offense I think the situation is still the same as last week.  The running game will be key, if we can get the running game going with our host of backs we will be in good shape.  We have four great backs and I hope all four can barely walk their legs are so tired when this one is over.  We need to be able to break off large gains on first down and take pressure off of Crompton, pressure that he obviously is not ready for.  If you make the boy among men throw on third and long we will be in trouble, and the stats show it. 

Overall I think the Vols have a shot in the dark at taking down the War Eagles.  Auburn is an extremely tough football team coming off a tough loss at home against the Bayou Bengals.  They will be looking to get things back on track in a hurry and Tennessee is the perfect way to do that.  Auburn gets Vandy next week which is obviously a tough game seeing as how the Commodores are playing this season but, I still don’t think we will catch them looking ahead.  The Volunteers will have to be a whole new football team to get the job done this weekend.  My heart says we have a shot, my head says 1 and 3.

Either Way Go Vols! Until next time thanks for reading.  VolBall Out!

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USC who? Go Beavers!

This blog is definitely all vol but, I hate USC more than anyone in college football and I have to mention it!  The 5’6″ freshman from the other OSU leads the Beavers to victory and opens up the national championship race for teams like Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, and so on.  

Go Beavers!  Thank you for making my night a blast!  No victory V tonight Pete!

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