Can you smell it? Football is in the air and I’m pumped. Am I the only Tennessee fan who has been holding their breath this week just waiting on something bad to happen? Every time I get an alert on my phone, I fully expect it to say someone from UT has broken a foot, or an arm, or a car window and they’ll be out for the game this week. Friday can’t get here soon enough. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get rid of this pessimistic attitude toward my beloved Vols?
P.S. Have you tried out Madden 13 yet?
We can smell it. You are nowhere near alone among Johnny Vols Fans holding their breath this week for a variety of reasons. After David Ricky Rogers' dismissal last week, there has been an egg shell feel about these Vols.
That must end tonight.
There has been a slew of questions and doubt. There has been angst and uneasy anticipation.
That must end tonight.
There has been a five-year quagmire of uncertainty. A time defined by as much as who's not in Knoxville as who is and what mess was left behind as much as what future goals could be toppled.
That must end tonight.
C-Vol, your pessimism is the product of several things. First, 98 percent of all college football fans fall into either the pessimistic or optimistic category (we're more optimistic, but so it goes). There are very few truly realistic college football fans. We're not sure how they manage it, but it seems like a really nice place we'd like to visit sometime.
Second, when the offseason is dominated by talks of hot seats and holdovers and the bar on bowl games and win total seems to drop each fall, it becomes tough to keep finding the positive. Especially when your bitter rival has ascended to the top of the college football stratosphere.
Third, as much as we believe the Vols are improved — and we do believe that — this is a scary game against an N.C. State team that starts seven seniors on offense (including four on the offensive line) and eight juniors or seniors on defense. This is a pretty salty and experienced opponent UT has tonight.
Now, none of those three previous points likely made your pessimism go away, but trust us there are reasons to believe in this team.
Our TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer detailed a few in his column today. Chiefly among Johnny Majors' observations that caught our eye was the quality teaching that was happening in practice.
Secondly, we believe the troubles among the offensive line last fall were mental and not physical. And those are correctable with an attitude adjustment. (Conversely, no matter how hard the 5-at-10 works or how much we want it, we're never going to be able to block Barkevious Mingo. EVER.)
Third, A.J. Johnson is the single best UT defender since Eric Berry. We're looking forward to watching him play.
Fourth, and this is about tonight, the Vols have to know the stakes, especially for the coaches. We expect them to pull out all the stops. It doesn't matter if it's 2-0 or 49-48, all that matters tonight is W or L. There are no style points, and if the Big Orange spirits allow for a Vols' win tonight, anyone who bemoans "they won ugly" or "they didn't look too good," does not understand the stakes. The only numbers that matter are 1-0 and 0-1 and the discussion points from there in about 14 hours.
And with that baseline necessity, there has to come a certain amount of desperation and quiet confidence in knowing the goal.
Side note: We can also tell you that we're going to DVR the UT game and watch it when we're done covering high school football. Stupid sports editor is making us work on the night of the Vols' opener. That guy's an ogre.
Side note II: As for Madden 13, well, quick back story. We used to play a lot of video game football. Even played some tournaments for money. We got pretty good — seriously good — even to the detriment of our school work at Auburn. We continued playing in non-stakes events and used it as a nice way to relax. (For those that are shaking your head, please know that Madden or EA sports College Football is the perfect blend of paying attention to something that is not important to the point that you can get away from the important things that occupy too much of our time and mental energy.) That said, when we were blessed to have tots, we had to ditch a hobby. We kept golf and kicked video-game football. So it goes, and we wouldn't trade it for anything.
One quick point: You say the Vols don't have Da'Rick Rogers, and that means that every WR has to move up one in the slot. But you haven't mentioned that NCSU is without David Wilson, their starting corner opposite Amerson. That means all their CBs have to move up one. Yes, their secondary is a team strength, but the Vols passing game is a strength. Let's call this a wash and move on. It may not be quite a wash- it may favor one team or the other slightly. But we won't know until tomorrow night. I think requiring to move all of your CBs up one is just as challenging as moving up the WRs up one spot.
This was as much a statement as it was a question, but it was fair point and one we wanted to address.
Offensively, at its most basic level, the Vols' plan really comes down to whether Cordarrelle Patterson can have success against Dontae Johnson, the defensive back moving up the depth chart for the Wolfpack.
Tom O'Brien seemed confident about that this week, saying Johnson had moved ahead of Wilson as early as the end of spring practice.
But if the Vols' passing game is determined as a wash against N.C. State, then Vols are in a hole from the start.
Either way, in no uncertain terms, this game lies in the hands of Tyler Bray.
Going back to the first question, we're not sure if that makes CelticVol more nervous or relaxed.
Looking forward to Pasquali's Pix and Jay's Clicker Alerts this season. Hilarious rant last year, Jay, about announcers that have overused "Dialing up pressure." Can't remember if you listed any other overused/annoying phrases. If not, what are the top 5 being used today?
Thanks, and we had some fun with the Clicker Alert today. That said, we had no major beefs against the three-man team that did last night's game. David Pollack was solid and relatively smooth in his Thursday night debut. Now if we could do something with Granny Clampett (Lou Holtz) and Mark May, we'd be in BID-ness.
Here are three:
1) We talked about dialing up pressure before. This offseason, it was the promise of "video-game numbers." Well, what if that video game is Ms. Pac-Man? Does that mean we can expect 100,000 points.
2) We've never been a big fan of the 110-percent mumbo-jumbo (it's impossible after all), and the "he's a high-effort/he's got a good motor," stuff. If he works hard great, but if he's working that much harder than the rest of the team then, a) why is he not Michael Jordan; or b) why are we not discussing how lazy the rest of the team is.
3) "He plays the game like a linebacker." Great. How about let's get someone who plays like a quarterback so maybe we can complete a pass.
That said, we have had two pretty good breaks as football fans of late.
First, we all likely should all send some sort of donation to New Mexico, which hired Bob Davie to coach its football team and lured him away from the TV booth. It's 60-40 whether the Lobos did this as a public service, but either way, it's an ultimate win-win for everyone.
Second, since Ron Jaworski no longer uses National Football League about 7,430 times since he's no longer calling National Football League players in National Football League games on Monday night for ESPN, which broadcasts the National Football League.
Amen, and pass the biscuits.
What's the best news of the week? And take the start of college football off the board. We spent so much time talking about college football, I want to make sure I didn't miss anything big.
Excellent question. And since you added the phrase that college football can't be included, we'll go with the following:
1) The Gulf is getting heavy rains from Isaac, who apparently had his fill about being the lone black guy on the S.S. Princess and getting heckled by Gopher, Doc and Captain Stubing. Floods and devastation have wreaked havoc on the gulf coast. Again.
2) Jersey Shore was cancelled. Anyone want to take a wager on any cast member being broke in five years? Didn't think so.
3) The GOP convention is done. It's one of those things we watched because we felt an obligation too, and we couldn't help but mumble, "Wow, these guys are the best we got?" Then of course, there are yahoos like the 5-at-10 saying stuff like that after the fact, so who would want to run in the first place. And did you see Clint Eastwood speak last night? Were they filming "Weekend at Bernie's III: Clint goes to the RNC" last night? Strange stuff.
4) Andy Roddick will retire after this U.S. Open tennis tournament. That's news to us because we thought he retired two years ago.
5) Pssstt. Football season started.
Dude, what happened to the Spurriers and USC? Thought you loved that game? Where do I send the bill?
You know the risks kind sir. Two things to remember: Past performance does not guarantee future success, and if there were sure-fire ways to make money doing nothing, it wouldn't be called gambling, it would be called wellfare. (Thank you, we'll be here all week.)
That said, let's review last night's South Carolina-Vandy game.
First, we're a little frightened by how good the odd's makers were. South Carolina was a 7-point pick and was well within range of a field goal when they took a knee three times to run out the clock in a 17-13 win. South Carolina played most of the third quarter without quarterback Connor Shaw, who injured his shoulder. When Shaw was on the field, USC was operational offensively. When back-up Dylan Thompson was in the game, it was dysfunctional. That seems probable for any team — no team this side of Alabama has the type of depth to shrug off injuries, and even Alabama fans would get tense if A.J. McCarron got hurt — but it's especially worrisome for South Carolina fans since Shaw is a 6-foot-1, 207-pound running quarterback who will be exposed to a lot of hits.
Second, neither team looked overly impressive. Here's saying Vandy feels like they played poorly and South Carolina feels the same. Thoughts?
Finally, as much as James Franklin put into this one — he called it "our Super Bowl" earlier in the week — it will be interesting to see how the energetic second-year coach handles a slew of varying disappointments. From the game not being a sell-out to the missed pass interference call late that could have changed the late to feeling like they let a huge chance slip away.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...