Gang thanks for all the UT football emails. And we concur there are a wide array of questions for the Vols this spring.
Since Downtown Patrick Brown had basketball responsibilities last night, we will post his answers to the following three questions around lunch. The 5-at-10, however, waits for no man.
To paraphrase the questions, and the great scene in Bull Durham where the manager blows an O-ring in the locker room: Who's going to throw the ball? Who's going to catch the ball? Who's going to hit the ball carrier?
There will be a ton of time to spill a ton of ink on the transition of the new staff and the new systems. And while the baby steps needed to get comfortable in a "power spread" will be slow and arduous, the switch back to the 4-3 defense will be met with open arms and excitement.
As for the positional inquiries above, here's our best guess:
Throw the ball - Nathan Peterman and Justin Worley will get the first shot this spring, and one of them better take the reins and hold on. If neither guy emerges, and the quarterback quandary heads into August, well, we'll go with one - or both - of the incoming freshmen getting a big chance to land the QB1 handle.
Catch the ball - Jason Croom, come on down. And bring Pig Howard with you. Howard will be interesting to watch this spring in that he could be a guy that plays a number of positions in Coach Butch Jones' offense. This is another spot that two incoming freshmen - Paul Harris, who is already enrolled and will practice this spring, and MarQuez North - will get more than a little opportunity to help. (Side note: MarQuez's second capital letter is growing on us. We're looking at adopting that, maybe a 5-aT-10 kind of thing? Thoughts?)
Hitting the ball carrier - For the first time since the unrest on The Hill started, the defensive front seven seems experienced and somewhat competent. It's time for Jacquez Smith, the former Ooltewah superstar, to deliver as an every down defensive end. A.J. Johnson is as good as any linebacker in the league. That said, if the UT secondary was a music group, they would be called Brian Randolph and the Invisibles.
We'll get Downtown's answers up around noon.
Down three at the half and in a slugfest for much of the final 40 minutes, the Tennessee Vols survived Wednesday night at Auburn, recording an 82-75 win.
It wasn't a pretty win. It wasn't a confidence-inspiring win. It wasn't a textbook win, certainly not over an Auburn team that is plunging into a historic hole of futility.
But it was a win, and that's all that mattered.
It was such a mixed bag, that the Vols survived despite a litany of head-scratching numbers.
Auburn shot 51 percent and lost. Tennessee made more than twice as many free throws than Auburn even attempted, despite Jarnell Stokes' positively Shaq-tastic 1-of-10 effort at the foul-line.
Math aside, the Vols now can work for Saturday's showdown with Missouri with bubble dreams and at-large wishes on the tips of their fingers because of the win at Auburn. And that win was decided by the artist formerly known as Trae Golden.
As bad as Golden was in the puzzling loss at Georgia last Saturday, he was that good Wednesday. In 36 minutes, he was a study of efficiency. His assists-to-turnover numbers (6-to-1) were elite and he scored 21 points on just 12 shots.
We know our man StuckinKent will drop some bubble logic later today, and we'll leave that to him.
The Vols are still in the mix, and plainly, that's all that matters after a trip to the Plains.
We're six weeks from the draft. And you know who loves the draft? Yep, the 5-aT-10, that's who.
There is a ton of NFL stuff we have to catch up on before we can really get to pegging our draft board.
There are the holes teams must create to get under the cap and the holes they will fill by signing free agents when the shopping starts next Wednesday. Here are some key numbers to keep in mind:
• The NFL salary cap - a hard limit to what each NFL team can spend on the players on the 53-man roster - is $123 million.
• According to CBSsports.com, eight teams - Cleveland, Cincy, Indy, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, Phily and Tampa - have at least $25 million in cap room. New Orleans and Carolina are currently over the cap.
• There are not a lot of big names on the market, and the vacuum of available QBs in the draft and in free agency is staggering. If the Chiefs finalize the trade to land Alex Smith, the best five options among the for-sure free agents and in the draft pool are Jason Campbell, Geno Smith, Matt Moore, Brady Quinn and Matt Barkley. OUCH-standing.
• There are some talented skill-position players lurking about, names like Jared Cook or Reggie Bush and even a Stephen Jackson or a Wes Welker.
• Also, there are going to be a lot of big-time names that are looking for one more moment in the sun. Randy Moss, Charles Woodson and Rishard Seymour along with former Falcons John Abraham and Michael Turner.
- Todd McShay's latest mock draft is out and he has 12 SEC players - three Alabama players, three Georgia players, two Vols and one each from Texas A&M, Missouri, Florida and LSU - in the first round. Interesting stuff.
- You know it's March when our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer is really in his element. After sharing some science Wednesday, Weeds makes the case for the Lady Mocs being worthy of at-large bid and accurately notes that the Lady Mocs can't be held accountable that the rest of the SoCon is SoBad. We all know that Wes Moore and Co. have no intention of leaving their fate in the hands of the committee, but if it comes to that, we think the Lady Mocs have done enough.
- We were speaking of remakes Wednesday, and then news breaks that CBS is making a "Beverly Hills Cop" TV show, and that the central figure will be Axel Foley's son. Eddie Murphy will appear in the show, as will Judge Reinhold. The Judge may be in; the jury is definitely out on this one. And if they are going to make a TV show out of a great 1980s movie, hello, Red Dawn. Seriously, this could work.
- R.I.P. Paul Bearer, the one-time manager of the Undertaker in the WWE.
Remember Friday's mailbag and feel free to sound off about our UT football views. Plus, we'll post Stuck's Bubble book when we receive it.
As for the question, we were wondering about something....
As our SEC ace David Paschall tells us here, the entire Georgia Bulldogs coaching staff got raises.
Chief among those to reap the windfall was offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who got a $240,000 raise to $575K per year. That's a sizable increase.
Here's the dilemma: We know several Johnny Bulldogs Fans who believe Bobo to be a bozo. We also can see the reverse argument that after directing a record-setting offense last year, that Bobo is underpaid considering his salary is only fourth in the SEC among OCs and still roughly half of the coin Chadd Morris gets from Clemson.
Yes, Bobo got a really nice bump, but considering his time and talent, should he be ticked that he's still making $275,000 less than Todd Grantham? Or should he be thankful to have his gig, as some of the anti-Bobo folks would claim?