Originally written on Checkerboard Chatter  |  Last updated 11/14/14

 

 

 

 

 

After an impressive outing against the N.C. State Wolfpack on opening weekend, the Vols took on Georgia St. on Saturday in a David-and-Goliath matchup. Only this time, Goliath stepped on David, squashing him into an irrelevant, greasy spot. Tennessee dominated the contest 51-13, and while the score was obviously lopsided, there are things to be concerned about if you are a Vol fan.  While everyone’s mind is focused on the Gaytors coming to town this weekend, let’s take a look at the offense and defense’s performances against the Panthers, as well as our top-notch special teams unit (insert sarcasm here).

 

 

OFFENSE

First off, I was very impressed with Tyler Bray and Co. on the first possession of the ball game. They successfully drove the ball down the field with well-balanced play calling and great execution, and topped the drive off with a Rajon Neal touchdown.

Overall, it was a good day for the Tennessee offense. They moved the ball at will, and when allowed to, exploited the inferior Panther secondary. I kept asking myself, why in the world are we not letting CP toast this nerd when being covered one-on-one with no help over the top? During that short period of idiocy on my part, it was absolutely infuriating. Then I realized… our coaching staff knew Bray and the receivers could humiliate this secondary at any point in time. This was proven when they opened things up on the last drive before halftime. They ran their “2-minute drill” and it was like they were going up against St. Mary’s School of the Blind. Instead of just bombing it deep each play, Coach Chaney took this game to fine tune a few things and work on the Wildcat package. Our offense kept things pretty vanilla against a team that didn’t require a lot of surprises to beat them. They really focused a lot on the ground game, which leads me to the next topic of discussion…

While each running back showed flashes of what they’re capable of, the run game was still disappointing. The statistics don’t necessarily show it, but in order to win next week and so on, we must run the ball better between the tackles. When you cannot get 1 yard against Georgia freaking State on two consecutive plays… there’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means all on the running backs, the offensive line must be better as well. For a squad that claims to be so aggressive and focused this year, thus far I’m not seeing a group that’s dominating in the trenches. On the flip side of that, their pass protection has been flawless. Let’s hope that continues. One thing that is a concern, at least for me personally, is that we don’t have a clear-cut starter yet. I know many think, “Well neither does LSU and they’re doing fine.” True. But our RBs are not LSU’s… big difference there. After an impressive debut from Marlin Lane in the opener, he was off to a good start in this game as well. This good start came to a screeching halt after an inexcusable fumble early in the game. Right now, I think Lane is the back that is not only running the hardest, but also enjoying lowering his pads and driving through defenders. That is the mentality you must have in the SEC. This, however, is a moot point if he cannot hold on to the ball. While Neal had 2 TDs in Saturday’s game, he is still not even close to reaching his maximum potential. If he can figure out the mental aspect of the game that Coach Graham has been preaching, the job is his to lose; he is the most physically impressive by far.

The receivers were as everyone expected… AWESOME. Despite recording 9 catches for 73 yards against a talented Wolfpack secondary, many still labeled Hunter’s first game back as “rusty.” He did drop a couple of passes, but I think he more than made up for it with 3 TDs this past weekend. While I know his competition was poor, his routes were still crisp and he caught everything that touched his hands. I think this past game was important for Hunter just to get back in the end zone, and get some confidence about him.

Cordarelle Patterson once again looked great. He is so dynamic after the ball is in his hands, and its what I look forward to every game. It was great to see Rivera get involved as well as he hauled in several solid catches Saturday. Our second team looked pretty good to me as well. Worley could have looked better, but still managed the game well under center. Running back, Quenshan Watson, got several snaps in the backfield, including a late fourth quarter TD. Jacob Carter continues to have glue for hands as he catches anything that heads his way; he is a guy I am very excited about for the future. Now on to the defense…

 

DEFENSE

The headline story of the game on the defensive side of the ball was that starters Curt Maggitt and senior leader, Herman Lathers, were held out of Saturday’s contest. This may not seem like a big deal against the Panthers, but Lathers plays such a huge part in the communication of the defense. The first quarter was a bit unsettling on the defensive side of the ball. While everyone knew this game would never be close in the second half, with 3 minutes left in the first quarter, the Vols were only up 7-3. The defense continues to get off to slow starts allowing large chunks of yards for the opposition. They gave up two 3rd & 25’s conversions on the same drive before digging in and forcing a FG inside their own 10 yard line. This is something that cannot happen against teams in the SEC. The defense looked very good against the run, but suspect against the pass. I was very impressed with our defensive line and linebackers. Not only how well they got pressure on the QB, but also how well they chased down the running backs out of the backfield. The most disappointing area of the defense was easily the secondary. They did not look like they came ready to play. I am sure they will be marching to a different tune come this weekend, though.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

While Devrin Young and CP both had great kick returns, everything else about the special teams unit was pure crap. Just a big bowl of crap. I don’t know why I am surprised though. Mark my words… we will lose at least one game this season due to the inability to hit a 30+ FG when it matters the most. Palardy missed not only a 30- yard FG on Saturday, but also missed an extra point… his second missed extra point in two games. This is inexcusable. If I had a nickel for every time I have wrote about how bad our special teams sucks, I would have like $1.25 right now. We also had an abysmal night punting the ball, averaging 33 yards a punt. On the other sideline, the Panthers punter averaged 50+ yards a punt. How in the world does Georgia St. have a better punter and kicker than the University of Tennessee? We may never know why we have been banned from having good kickers, but one thing is for sure… until that curse is broken, it will continue to cost us at least a game a year.

If you did not get a chance to watch the Georgia St. game since it was only on PPV, here is a video of the highlights:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBUn6z85kaA

 

Please stay tuned this week for updates leading up to the Florida game, as this is the biggest game VolNation has seen in a LONG time.

As always, it’s great to be a Tennessee Vol!!!

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