Spurrier’s the Culprit

•07.24.2009 • 2 Comments
After all these years, a little respect.

After all these years, a little respect.

After years and years of despising Steve Spurrier, I found myself wash over with an ounce of delight when the Head Ball Coach admitted he’d left Tim Tebow off his pre-season All-SEC team.

Granted, Spurrier admits that he did it on accident, but do we all really believe this?  Most thought it was Lane Kiffin who’d left the quarterback off his ballot, but come on, this is token Spurrier.  Always prodding, pushing, and heckling the rest of the league.

Who knows, maybe it really was an honest mistake, but next time fill out your own bracket. But in all honesty, at least this stupid drama is over.

It’s obvious the SEC media have nothing better to write about.

Big Orange Roundtable: Volume II

•07.23.2009 • 1 Comment

Another week another volume of the Big Orange Roundtable.  This week’s questions come from oskie, over at the Vol-blog-of-all-Vol-blogs, Third Saturday in Blogtober (well, except for those pesky Bama fans roaming around).  But nothing is perfect, and on that word of wisdom, we turn to the questions…

1. We will start with an easy one.  Last week, our beloved Rock was relocated across the street to make room for a new building on campus.  What are your thoughts on the Rock’s relocation?

Saying goodbye to Knoxville after four years was not an easy task, as I know I’ll never again experience anything quite like college.  The memories, adventures, and friends will be with me for a lifetime.  But what I realize is that my experience at UT will be a unique one, like so many other before me, because the university is in a constant state of change.  Nothing there ever stays the same (hell, even Ayers is finally getting a make-over).

The prime example of this is the fact that just a week after I left campus as a college graduate, one of the constants on that campus was, well, moved.  It wasn’t as bad as most of my peers thought, throwing around rumors that the Rock was going to be chucked, along with one of the most talked about traditions on the Tennessee campus.

However, those rumors were thrashed when we found out the Rock would be moving all of 275 feet, and would still stand at the same intersection it had called home for so many years.  And from its new home, it will eventually look out at a brand new, state-of-the-art student health center that the university desperately needs.  So now, when sick kids look out on the campus, they’ll see Tim Tebow‘s cell phone number, or that it’s Samantha’s 19th birthday, or that Bryce Brown + Tennessee = National Championship.  Oh, the joys of free speech and graffitti.

What’s better than that?

2.  (a) Wednesday is the beginning of SEC Media Days in Birmingham, which usually signifies that the season is just around the corner.  What would you prefer that Coach Lane Kiffin do this week: Speak up or shut up? (b)  If you could take back one thing that Coach Kiffin has done or said to this point, what would it be?

In today’s SEC, a head coach can’t afford to be soft spoken.  Passive loses recruits.  Meek goes .500.  Quiet can cost you your job.

No, in today’s SEC, it pays to be bold.  And if there’s one word that can describe Tennessee’s new head coach, it’s bold.

He’s said about as much as one can say in seven months, stepping on almost all the conference’s coaches’ toes in the process.  Where has all this gotten him?  In the wins column, no where.  But he’d be in the same spot if he’d kept his mouth shut.  Recruiting wise, however, Lane Kiffin‘s outspokeness and passion has earned him the respect of quite a few recruits, including this year’s No. 1 prospect, Bryce Brown.

So, do I want Kiffin to speak up or shut up this week at the SEC Media Days?  The answer should be obvious.

Speak up.

Would I want him to take back anything he’s said?  Yes.  His admission that he voted Tebow first team all SEC, and admires the current Florida QB.  Stupidest thing he’s said all year.

3.  The biggest news of last week on the football front was that seemingly our entire receiving corps is in the infirmary.   Austin Rogers is lost for the year, Denarius Moore is going to miss several games at a minimum, and Gerald Jones has an injured wing that may cause him to miss some games.  Although it seems like it is time to hit the panic button, is there a way out of this for the Vols?

Losing two of our wideouts in the same week wasn’t pretty, especially with arguably our best wideout, Gerald Jones, already struggling to recuperate from offseason surgery.  But with setback comes opportunity.  With injury comes the chance for other to step up.

And who better to step up than the talented freshman Coach Kiffin was able to sign in this last class.  Austin Rogers will give way to his younger brother Zach Rogers, who has shown abilities and talents his older brother lacked at that age.  Denarius Moore‘s injury paves the way for Nu’Keese Richardson to step into the fold, and prove that his speed more than makes up for his lack of size.    With the loss of two potential Tennessee starters comes the chance for two young men to prove themselves, and show that they belong at the college level.

Although I think Gerald Jones‘ injury is being over-played, and that he’ll be fine by the start of the season, his absence would lend itself to even more opportunities for Zach Rogers and Nu’Keese, as well as Bryce Brown and David Oku.  Without the security of a deep threat, maybe Jonathan Crompton will do like I said in last weeks BOR, focus on the short passes to the flat instead of trying to force throws.  If he does so, then maybe it’ll lead to a boost of confidence, and by the time Jones and Moore return, Crompton will be more than ready to toss ‘em deep.

To me, it will all pay off in the end.  Increased touches by these two youngsters will pay dividends in maturing them faster and enabling them to have the chance to become top notch SEC wide receivers while at Tennessee.

4. Basketball recruit Josh Selby decommitted from the Vols over the weekend, and many suspect it is because he wants to play for a Nike school.  Tennessee is an Adidas school, and there is speculation that future sponsorship money with Nike may be at stake if Selby doesn’t go to a Nike school like Kentucky.  This obviously has ramifications in all sports, so what do you make of all this? (NOTE: The NFL is a Reebok league, which is owned by Adidas.)

The recent decommitment of Josh Selby was disturbing not only because of how talented he is as a player, but because of the speculation that he decommited because of pressure not from his family, friends or coaches, but from a company… from Nike.  Now, we probably won’t ever know for sure if this is true, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it is true.  This is something that cannot be allowed in college athletics, and I believe the NCAA should start taking a stand against these companies that are feeding kids bad information and corrupting the sport.  Now, I don’t believe the blame falls solely on Nike.  Numerous other companies, including Adidas are more than likely using the same tactics, but that doesn’t make it right.

A recent article states that Nike was adamantly pushing Memphis area basketball players away from coming to the Tennessee Elite Camp this summer and towards the Memphis Elite Camp.  This article takes a huge step forward on this issue, as it brings a very real and very inappropriate action into the spotlight.  These kids wanted to come to the Tennessee Elite Camp, but couldn’t because of pressure from Nike!  How in any way, shape, or form can something like this knowingly happen? Remember, these athletes are still in high school.  It doesn’t take much for a big Nike hotshot to come in and convince them to do what Nike wants.

For example, let’s say Nike tells Selby that he might not get a future deal if he goes to an Adidas school?  Well, just because he goes to a Nike school doesn’t mean he will sign a future Nike deal anyway.  Reference the case of former University of Memphis star Derrick Rose, who went to a Nike school and is now signed with Adidas.  Maybe Nike is telling Selby he doesn’t stand as good of a chance of getting into the NBA if he doesn’t go to a Nike school?  Is this fair?  Hardly, especially when the University of Kansas (an Adidas school) currently has eleven players in the NBA.

This whole argument boils down to the NCAA’s desire for a level playing field.  Well, over the past few years, we are seeing many high school athletes choose a school because of the shoe contract they have with a company.  Obviously, the NCAA cannot ban these companies from the sport because they are in-fact one of the main reasons college athletics function.  But, if this continues, something has to be done.

That wraps up Volume II of the Big Orange Roundtable.  Like last week, your comments are welcomed and desired.  The Roundtable is made up of Tennessee blogs, but wouldn’t be anything without Tennessee fans.

What’s your opinion?

Berry 4 Heisman

•07.21.2009 • Leave a Comment
Eric Berry! Eric Berry!

Eric Berry! Eric Berry!

For those of you who haven’t seen Tennessee’s newly unveiled internet campaign for Eric Berry’s run at the Heisman, you’re missing out.  The UT Athletic Department has definitely pulled out all the stops on this one, putting together an entire website devoted to Berry’s Heisman campaign, as well as getting on board the twitter (like us!) and facebook bandwagon.  Hopefully, this hard work by the Athletic Dept. will pay dividends for Berry when the Heisman votes are tallied.

Read more about the campaign over at GoVolsXtra.

Check out Eric Berry’s Heisman campaign site here.

His twitter page here.

And his facebook page here.

Big Orange Roundtable: Commencement

•07.16.2009 • 5 Comments

The end of July marks the beginning of what has become an annual tradition in the Tennessee blogosphere (yes, I believe two years running = a tradition).  What am I talking about, you may ask?

Why, the Big Orange Roundtable, of course!

The Big Orange Roundtable is a conglomeration of the biggest, baddest, boldest Tennessee blogs on the net.  Most of the participating blogs are returning from a very successful inaugural campaign last season, but others are just joining in on the fun.  Luckily, bleeding orange found themselves a golden ticket, and are now heading to the Willy Wonka Chocolate factory of roundtables.  The format is thus: each of the participating blogs takes its turn to host the roundtable, proposing a set of questions that each of the other blogs will answer.  The host blog will then publish a sort of review, hitting the highlights of each blog’s answers.  This process will get us through the rest of the offseason, and will come to a conclusion at the perfect time: the start of the Tennessee football season.

This week’s host blog is Moondog Sports, who is kicking things off with some tough questions about the most pertinent thing on Vol fans’ minds: the 2009 season.

1. In my mind, this season’s success – or failure – centers around one man, Jonathan Crompton. What is your opinion of Crompton’s ability to run Lane Kiffin’s pro style offense? Can Crompton overcome his miserable 2008 season and lead the Vols to a winning record?

Oh, the downward spiral that has been Jonathan Crompton‘s career.  A once highly touted prospect who was ranked higher in his senior year of high school than many of college football’s most recent quarterback successes, including Colt McCoy, Crompton has, for lack of a better term, blown.  As other young men cemented themselves in their alma mater’s history books, Crompton has been doing his best to cement himself in the minds of Tennessee fans as one of the biggest busts to ever don the Volunteer uniform.

Stop.

Rewind.

Biggest busts in the history of Tennessee football?  This kid has had to endure more than most people realize.  He’s had three offensive co-ordinators in the last three years, which is more than Peyton Manning has had in his entire career.  To make matters worse, Crompton’s most recent offensive co-ordinator was Dave Clawson, inventor of the infamous Clawfense that has caused so much agony over the past year.

In my opinion, Crompton has always had the skills he had when Rivals ranked him in their Top 100 and second among pro-style quarterbacks (behind only Mark Sanchez) back in 2005.  Crompton’s only problem is he hasn’t had the stability to showcase those skills.  Learning an offense is a sizable task, and is one reason why many highly touted prospects spend a year or two on the bench before being handed the keys to the offense.  In Crompton’s case, however, he’s never had the chance to get settled in an offense, and so he’s never been given the chance to blossom.

The biggest asset for Crompton in 2009 are his coaches, who are undoubtedly doing all they can to assure this young man can lead the Tennessee Volunteers back into the national spotlight.  They will do this by slowly building up Crompton’s confidence, which was undoubtedly at an all time low last season, in which he struggled on the field and received death threats off it.  Expect to see a lot of passes out into the flat to new additions David Oku and Nu’Keese Richardson to start the season.  Once he’s established the short pass and built up his confidence, Crompton can shift to throwing the long ball to some of his established receivers, like Gerald Jones.

With a huge frame and a gun-slingers arm, Crompton’s mentality is the only thing holding him back, and will make or break his 2009 season.

2. Last season, the kicking game was mediocre at best and the special teams – especially the punt coverage unit – was a disaster. Daniel Lincoln returns as the kicker and Chad Cunningham will return as the punter. What are your thoughts about the Vols kicking game and special teams?

Like the rest of the team, special teams really struggled last season.  Fans watched as opposing teams ran back numerous punts for touchdowns, while at the same time gawked as kick after kick went wide of the goal posts.  Yes, the special teams were abysmal last season.  And in a conference built on speed, special teams are where many games are won and lost.  So, Tennessee must make sure that, in 2009, they excel in the special teams category to ensure the season ends in success.

To help matters, the Vols were fortunate to bring in Eddie Gran, who put together solid special teams groups while coaching at Auburn.  What we must hope is that Gran can bring the same success on the field as he has on the recruiting trail.  If he can, I expect the special teams to improve greatly.

Either way, I can’t wait for Michael Palardy to suit up in 2010 and bring a much needed boost to a less than stellar kicking unit that could use his help in 2009.

3. Tennessee’s offensive line was thought to be a strength in 2008,
but like the rest of the offensive unit, didn’t perform well. What are
your thoughts regarding the offensive line for 2009?

Tennessee’s “supposed” veteran offensive line was one of the biggest disappointments last season, as a group that was expected to be dominant at the line ended up conceeding twenty-five sacks.  A lot of the blame can be shifted to other players, such as the quarterback and the receivers, but at the end of the day, this line just didn’t produce like it was supposed to.   Many of their struggles can be attributed to the Clawfense (notice a trend here?) which preached that each lineman should be able to play every position.  Their new scheme under Kiffin, however, has moved away from this complexity, and so each lineman can go back to playing their natural position, and hopefully thriving at it.  Look for this unit to return to their 2007 form, in which they allowed only four sacks over the course of the season.

Their success will undoubtedly bleed over into the rest of the offense, allowing the quarterback more time to hit his receivers and opening holes for a running game which should flourish with established veteran Montario Hardesty and newcomers Bryce Brown and David Oku in the backfield.

4. Tennessee finished 5-7 last season, a huge disappointment for a
team expected to perform much better. How do you believe the Vols will finish in 2009?

This year is a year of new beginnings for a Tennessee program that has undergone quite a bit of change over the last year.  But change is a good thing, and a program that has become stagnant over the past decade will hopefully start its trek back into the minds of fans, coaches, and the media nationwide.

This isn’t an overnight process, and most Volunteer fans know that.  It’s a slow process, but with the staff Tennessee has put together and the players they’ve already brought onboard, the sky is the limit for how talented this team can eventually become.

There’s no doubt that the upcoming schedule is a daunting one, but with eight of the twelve games being played in Neyland Stadium, the Vols have every opportunity to end 2009 with a winning record.  If they can get out of the gate strong, with wins over Western Kentucky and UCLA, there’s no doubt the team will go into their matchup at the Swamp with all the confidence in the world.  However, I don’t expect the Vols to knock off any of the top three (Gators, Tide, or Bulldogs), but games at Ole Miss and hosting Auburn will likely be the deciding factor as to whether or not this team succeeds or fails.

Look for Tennessee’s 2009 campaign to end on a high note, with the Vols getting back into the bowl picture, but don’t be surprised if you’re celebrating their victory before the start of 2010.  Unless, of course, they make it to the Liberty Bowl.

Final Prediction: 7-5 (8-5 including bowl win)

Alright ladies and gents, that’s all she wrote for the first week of the Big Orange Roundtable.  Hope my answers were respectable, and didn’t offend/enrage too many of you.  Feel free to put in your two cents in the comments.  Feedback is always appreciated.  I love to hear what other Vol fans think, especially if they think I’m wrong.

If you’re interested in what other Tennessee blogs had to say, be sure to check out Moondog‘s wrap-up later this week.  But for the indepth responses, check out each blogs website (in no particular order):

2009 Helmet Schedule

•07.13.2009 • Leave a Comment

Tonight is all about convenience, and after my earlier post consisting of a wonderfully convenient and concise preview of Tennessee football, I present you with the uber-convenient 2009 Helmet Schedule for all of college football.

Tah-dah. (Note the link in center of page)

This wonderful piece of work was put together by the infamous Mike Gardner (@ Mghelmets.com) whose brought his artistic talent to the gridiron by creating helmets for college football, the NFL, and even NFL Europe.  He’s taken this talent and put together a very conventient Excel template with scheduling break downs for each team in all the major FBS conferences.

Kudos, MG.

Tennessee 2009

•07.13.2009 • Leave a Comment

For those of you who need a little refresher course on what 2009 will bring for the Volunteers, check out this nice little wrap-up put together by the fellas over at bleacher report.

They defintely just skim the top of the water in terms of coverage, but for someone who really hasn’t kept up with things, it’s a simple and informative piece with all the essentials.

Enjoy.

Running Through the T

•07.10.2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s an experience most people won’t ever get to have, but most Tennessee fans dream about.

This might be as close as you’ll ever get:

Hat Tip: Joel @ RockyTopTalk

 
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