Questions At Tennessee…

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Lloyd Carr and the Michigan Wolverines aren’t the only college football team in America with some big time problems.  Yes, they are the only team that lost to a 1-AA program this weekend, but Saturday was a rough day for those on Rocky Top as well.  Saturday alone doesn’t bring much comparison between Michigan and Tennessee except for an 0-1 record.  Michigan participated in what some are calling the greatest upset in college football, if not sports, history; and Tennessee lost on the road to a good Cal team that was looking for some big time revenge.

NeylandAs far as history, pride and tradition go, Tennessee and Michigan share elitist status that only a handful of other college football programs can compare with.  Both consistently lead the nation in attendance with Neyland and the Big House being the two largest stadiums in the country.  National Championship trophies have travelled to Knoxville and Ann Arbor within the last 15 years.  Among all this winning and tradition, the two programs share something that have fans on both campuses worried.  Both the University of Michigan and the University of Tennessee have football programs  whose spirals toward mediocrity have become apparent.

Saturday night when the clock hit zero on the Tennessee-Cal football game fans witnessed the beginning of the end.  Never has a Tennessee team opened a year with so many questions on both sides of the ball and never has the answer to those questions been, “no.”

Answers after the jump.

Let’s start at the most obvious place, wide receiver.  Questions coming out of fall practice flooded the wide receiving core.  Is Austin Rogers a vertical threat? Does Lucas Taylor have what it take to be the go-to guy? Is 5-star juco recruit Kenny O’Neal going to help fill the wholes at wide reciever? No, No and no.  Saturday night, there was no vertical receiving threat.  Ainge looked very good and his performance is more impressive given Fulmerthe lack of good receivers and any vertical threat.  Cutcliffe used running backs as best he could in the passing game but you can’t win consistently without a true threat at wide receiver.    To put it bluntly, Kentucky and Vanderbilt have better receiving units than Tennessee.

It was obvious the secondary spent the entire fall covering a bad group of wide receivers.  Is the pieced together secondary going to be able to cover good wide receivers?  No.  All the blame doesn’t fall on the secondary.  The front seven was plain bad and covering the best wide receiver in the country (DeSean Jackson) can be extremely difficult.  Speaking of the front seven.  Could Tennessee replace Marvin Mitchell, Justin Harrell, and Turk McBride up front? No.  The front seven got pushed around, stood up, and were just plain poor tacklers all night long.

There are many more questions that must be addressed.  By no means should any team be judged by only one game, especially a game on the road against a top 25 team.  The question is not about the 2007 Tennessee football team.  The question is about where the program is heading.  How does a premier SEC team and a program built on such tradition have so many questions?  Coach Fulmer has the highest winning percentage of any coach in the country over the last ten years, a National Championship, and SEC championships.  It’s his great resume that complicate the answer to the question.

With such a great resume, why after just one game is the ship starting to slow downand appear to be beginning to even sink?  The football landscape is changing.  It’s becoming a world full of innovative, creative and big-risk-big-reward coaches.  The spread offense is tough to defend, and getting athletes the ball in space has become the path to victory.  Recruits coming out of high school are being drawn toward the energetic, creative coaches.

Even with his winning percentage, Fulmer and staff are notorious for being conservative.  Their play calling is plain and becoming predictable, even with the return of Cutcliffe.  The defense has struggled to find the answer to the spread offense and speed SEC teams are now putting on the field.

The game has evolved into a faster, quicker game full of unique schemes and exotic play calling.  Tennessee needs to adapt to the changing landscape that is college football.  If they don’t adapt and do it very soon, mediocrity will rule on Rocky Top.  The good news is that there is time for change.  The bad news is that the change has to be at head coach.  It’s time for Rocky Top to be rejuvenated with an energetic creative coaching staff. 

So now the question is, will Tennessee change? Don’t know.

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11 Responses to “Questions At Tennessee…”

  1. smoothron Says:

    Who gets fired first, Lloyd or Fat Phil?

  2. Questions About UT - VolNation Says:

    […] About UT check this out…. Questions At Tennessee… what you think? time for a […]

  3. W Says:

    Fuck, hire Bruce as your football coach, too. I’m sure he’d come up with a creative offense, instead of that Big 10 O you guys run.

  4. Check This Out - VolNation Says:

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  5. smoothron Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with Big 10 Offenses. Nevermind, yes there is.

  6. eDayStat Says:

    The spread offense will be the same as all the athletic-centered full-court pressing teams of the 90’s in basketball. Someone will soon learn how to defend it with solid athletes and it will go out of style. Tennessee will be good for all the years to come with ebs and flows like any other team. They’re not bad this year, they just ran into a talented team earlier in the year than they needed to.

  7. 2ndstorylloyd Says:

    You of all people Eday I thought would be excited about the decline at Tennessee. Kentucky has a good chance at beating UT this year.

  8. eDayStat Says:

    I agree that UK has a chance this year, but the decline of UT football doesn’t really excite me. More to the point, I didn’t think UT looked so bad. The two plays (fumble return and punt return) are things that don’t happen in most games (although Cal is good and it will happen more often for them than most) and the game is a stand-off other than that.

  9. BobWicket Says:

    It could happen, barring a delay…..of……….game

  10. smoothron Says:

    I predict that UK/UT will battle to a multi-OT thriller game that features over 100 points scored! It will be cold and miserable, but the Vols will pull it out in the end.

  11. AK Says:

    Not to be nit-picky, but Neyland is the 3rd largest. Right now, Beaver Stadium at Penn State has the highest capacity while the Big House undergoes renovations. Beaver Stadium’s seating is 108,000 with a full house of 111,000.

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