It’s game week! The long off-season is finally over. Since it’s game week, the long awaited depth chart has been released. None of it is too terribly surprising:

Offense

 

Alex Bullard is the new jack-of-all-trades of the UT offensive line

Right Tackle: Juwuan James, Kyler Kerbyson
Right Guard: Zach Fulton, JeQuari Schofield
Center: James Stone, Mack Crowder
Left Guard: Alex Bullard, Marcus Jackson
Left Tackle: Dallas Thomas, Tiny Richardson

Quarterback: Tyler Bray, Matt Simms, Justin Worley
Fullback: Channing Fugate, Ben Bartholomew
Tailback: Tauren Poole, Marlin Lane, Tom Smith

Justin Hunter leads a (hopefully) high-flying receiving corps

Tight End: Mychael Rivera, Brendan Downs, Cameron Clear
Wide Receiver: Da’Rick Rogers, Anthony Anderson
Wide Receiver: Justin Hunter, Vincent Dallas, DeAnthony Arnett

Offensive notes:

  • Zach Rogers nowhere to be found. I don’t think he’s hurt, and I’ve heard he’ll be the third receiver, so I am not sure if this is just for two receiver sets, but I still find it odd.
  • Anthony Anderson’s recent switch to offense is apparently working pretty well.
  • Rumor has it that in spite of the depth chart. Alex Bullard is the main right tackle and center back-up.

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"Yeah. I know what play is coming."

Julio had a great career at Alabama, but it seemed the ‘Tide always had a difficult time using him to his full ability. Once I looked at these three videos, it was obvious that we didn’t go to the television booth enough. It’s scary how many times McElroy and Julio responded to the voices in the booth.

The first video is Julio’s catch against Arkansas in 2009 on the trick play out of the Wildcat Formation. Gary Danielson circles Julio on the screen so that McElroy could better see him.  Boom.

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Steve Medlin and I thought it would be cool to have an Alabama fan and a Tennessee fan preview each of the two school’s upcoming season.  Alabama’s preview will come in a couple of days, but today we have the Tennessee preview.

 

Game 1 Montana

I’ll be honest, Montana scares me. Teams ranked #12 even in 1-AA (Yeah I know, it’s not called that, but that’s what it is), are usually pretty decent. What does Montana have to lose? Nothing, that’s what bothers me. I think Tennessee wins this game on a couple of huge offensive plays where the Vols just out-talent the Grizz, but this game is going to be aggravatingly close. Final Score UT 31-17.
1-0

Cake walk. This is what will be known as a Bray Game — pinball scores against weak defenses that make the fans feel like he’s everything they’ve been promising he would be. Don’t let App State or James Madison fool you. This is a lock. Score: UT 45-20.
1-0

The Bama fan thinks Bray goes CRAY-zy against the Grizz.

Game 2 Cincinnati

Cincinnati doesn’t scare me as much, which is probably a bad thing. Phil Fulmer always said you improve the most between games 1 and 2, that’s why he liked the pre-Florida bye week. Personally I was never a fan of that bye week. I think the UT defense shines. Final Score UT 28-6
2-0

Cincinnati returns all eleven starters on defense. Too bad that defense was terrible against the pass. Don’t sleep on the Bearcats offense, though. QB Zach Collaros was rough but effective, leading the Big East in yards and TDs, with just enough scramble in his legs to be a problem. The UT secondary is going to have to work doubly hard early in the year to help out an inexperienced linebacker unit. This game will be an early indication of the direction the Vols are headed. Score: UT 30 – 27.
2-0

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An Alabama fan can look at a Tennessee fan today and say, “I know.”

This is the exact moment Tennessee's athletic department became cursed.

Alabama has lived through all this before – minus the Pat Summitt news.

The Vols’ biggest problem was taking too long to recognize that it was time for Phillip Fulmer the coach to step down.  The next biggest problem was once they realized it was time to move on, Tennessee cut his legs out from under him and tried to take the program in an entirely different direction in hopes of getting away from the Fulmer Culture.

Like Tennessee, ‘Bama did the same thing seven years earlier when they finally decided that the hiring process needed to consist of more than considering anyone that inhaled secondhand smoke from one of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s  Chesterfields. 

The ‘Tide brought in Dennis Franchione because he was simply a good coach and was best suited for the job. Nothing else.  Problem is, the “How To Run a Southern Football Team” manual doesn’t come with a section on “Hiring Outside the Family.” 

Franchione was great.  He was a no-nonsense coach.  He wasn’t family. He was just a good coach who wanted results.  Alabama was back.  Well, they were back until Franchione was offered a job at Texas A&M and left town quicker than you can say, “Logan Young, Albert Means, and NCAA probation.”

Tennessee tried to hire outside the family and found a guy that seemed to be perfect.  Lane Kiffin – everyone get on Lane Train.  Kiffin was the exact opposite of Fulmer.  He was mentioned in hip hop songs with references to weed and such.  He brought excitement.  He brought cocky back.  He was offered his dream job in Southern California and left town.  Oops.  continue reading…

Big hits, and big drama. Janzen Jackson is no longer with the UT football team.

Well I guess the Lane Kiffin era is officially over. Janzen Jackson has been dismissed from the football team.

Jackson completes the saga of Nu’Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards, and Bryce Brown.  All five star recruits, who are no longer in Knoxville. I suppose none of us can really be surprised at all. Ever since the gas station incident we’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for something else to happen. I can’t believe I rode on the Lane train.

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The University of Tennessee avoided major sanctions today as the NCAA placed a show-cause on coach Bruce Pearl. This is a huge sigh of relief to many people, especially considering the recent firestorm of allegations coming out of Miami. Many felt that since UT was next on the docket, new NCAA president Mark Emmert may have wanted to use UT as an example. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

Bruce Pearl will have to wait three years at least for his next coaching job.

Bruce Pearl is the one who is going to suffer the most in this. In layman’s terms a show-cause means that whatever institution wants to hire Coach Pearl in the next three years must appear before the NCAA board and explain why. They may also risk additional NCAA sanctions.

The football program avoided major sanctions all incurred under the brief, but amazingly crazy Lane Kiffin era.  Kiffin himself didn’t receive any further sanctions, nor did former assistant David Reaves, who may or may not have been in charge of the Vol Hostesses.

Hostesses? Hmmmm......In South Carolina? Hmmmmm......Not sure what you're talking about. I have a plane to catch

Coach Summitt will fight her condition with the same fire that she has on the sidelines. "There will be no pity party"

I am sure by now you are all aware that Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with dementia. I wouldn’t wish dementia and early onset Alzheimer’s on anyone, much less Coach Summitt. I lost my grandmother to that awful disease, but at least she was in her late 70s, Pat Summitt is just 59.

My heart breaks for the Summitt family and the University. She will coach this year, with the wishes of her doctor, and the University. She is clearly the greatest coach in the women’s game, and she might be the best coach in all of basketball, and she might be the best coach in the world. We all wish you the best Coach! Stay strong!

Sooner or later, the University of Tennessee will release it’s two-deep for 2011. That’s a blog for another day, but it got me thinking. Fifteen years ago, I watched my first UT game as a student at Tennessee. It was a 62-3 drubbing of UNLV. I sat in section F. (I still have the ticket stub), and it was a wonderful day. Today I had some mental free time, and I started thinking about the two-deep, and the last fifteen years of Tennessee football. So I thought “Who would be on that two-deep?” It’s certainly not an all-time team. There is no Doug Atkins, no Reggie White. It’s just a team that I put together in my own head today, and then I scratched it out on a sheet of paper. Now I am going to share it with you. Feel free to disagree or agree at will.

We are calling Coach Fulmer out of "retirement" for this one.

Offense

1st Offensive line (from left to right). Chad Clifton, Fred Weary, Scott Wells, Cosey Coleman, Michael Munoz.

2nd Offensive line (left to right). Trey Teague, Spencer Riley, Josh McNeil, Anthony Herrera, Chris Scott.

That’s a pretty stout offensive line group there. I know Munoz had some injury troubles, but when he was good, he was good. I can’t imagine any of the second teamers not starting on the 2011 line.

No need for an Offensive Coordinator on this squad, we'll let Peyton call the shots

Quarterbacks: Peyton, then Tee.

I thought about putting Casey Clausen #2, but then I thought of two words: National Championship.

Fullback: Shawn Bryson, then Will Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was probably the better blocker, but Bryson had speed to burn and was a good blocker as well.

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Jason Croom, the newest member of the the Volunteer class of 2012, at the MVP camp in Georgia

4-Star wide receiver Jason Croom of Norcross, GA has become the 15th commit for Derek Dooley’s class of 2012. Not only that, Croom is the third 4-star recruit since Sunday joining Kenneth Crawley and LeDarrell McNeil. The 6’5″ Croom had offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, and LSU among several others.

Welcome to Big Orange Country Jason!
In other recruiting news 4-star Defensive end Trent Taylor of Lakeland, FL is rumored to be reconsidering his commitment to Miami because of all the trouble going on right now at The U. He is visiting Knoxville this weekend coming up.

 

The newest member of the class of 2012, LeDarrell McNeil

The secondary got stronger Sunday night, when Derek Dooley got a commit from four star-cornerback Kenneth Crawley, from Washington, DC. Last night it got even stronger when four star safety LeDarrell McNeil of Dallas picked UT over Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Southern Cal.

According to the sites McNeil is one of the five best safeties in the country. It was assumed by most that we would eventually end up in Stillwater,  and his commitment to Knoxville stunned everyone except his high school coach, who knows Derek Dooley.
“I just felt comfortable there and I feel like I could live up there even if I wasn’t playing football…I wanted to get it out of the way when I knew I was for sure. I have known for a couple of weeks Tennessee was where I wanted to go and I just now want to focus on playing ball my senior year.”
Scouts say McNeil is one of the hardest hitting safeties they have ever seen in high school.  Here are his hitting highlights.
Coach Dooley may recruit slow, but he does recruit well. Welcome to Big Orange Country LeDarrell!