NC State senior quarterback Mike Glennon is looking forward to his final college season. Expectations are that he will be one of the top quarterbacks in college football in 2012.
Based on the scrimmage results for Tennessee on Wednesday, Glennon should be very excited for an opportunity to play against the Tennessee defense on August 31.
In Coach Dooley's interview on the 17th, he mentioned that the Vols offense looked very good in the latest scrimmage. A little later he also said that the back end of the defense had some communication issues. One of those issues allowed a check down play to turn into a 72 yard pass-run for a score.
Putting these two things together and knowing Glennon is the real deal of a quarterback, creates concerns for the Vol pass defense. You have to wonder if the Vols are really going to be ready for what is coming on August 31.
Mike Glennon is coming. This guy will surely be bad news for a defense that isn't tightened up on both the front and back ends.
Glennon, 6'6" and 232 pounds, passed for 3,054 yards in 13 games in 2011. He completed 63% of his passes and threw 31 touchdowns, with only 12 interceptions. Though three of his top targets graduated, State is returning an experienced group and should not miss a lick in the pass game in 2012.
Glennon is on several top-player or top-quarterback watch lists for the 2012 year. The most notable of course, is the Heisman watch list.
Many analysts think that Tennessee is still a year away from being able to play head to head with a top SEC schedule again. As a result, overall confidence outside the Volunteer state is low on their chances in this first game.
Most ranking services have the Vols in the mid 30's to lower 40's in national rankings. They point to the lack of running game and inconsistent play in 2011.
Also, there are the changes being made on defense. These are all reasons given for this team lagging well behind in the eyes of the rest of the world in terms of being back in the SEC race.
On the local side, many Vols fans have a solid case of "football fever" this time of year. They are pointing to the team and predicting 11 wins, SEC east championship, or an SEC championship. Even the undefeated, national champion post appears from time to time.
It's always this way with a portion of the UT fan base. If UT starts less than perfect, by the season's midpoint, some of these folks will likely be throwing in the towel, calling for Coach Dooley's job and promising to give up their season tickets.
I think the reality of where Big Orange football 2012 is lies about in the middle of the road. As Dooley pointed out, the defense still has things to work on, issues which must be fixed, players who still must learn.
A single point, last-second win would be a mighty good thing verses NC State next Friday night in Atlanta. Just as good as a three touchdown blow out in my own book. Just get a win is what UT wants out of this game. If the Vols fail to do that, it's not the end of the season—or the world.
NC State does have some holes that the Vols can attack. Their linebackers are the youngest Tom O'Brien has had to work with ever in Carolina.
Young linebackers mean lots of opportunities for the run game and the short passing game to flourish.
Their run defense gave up a lot of yards and scores last season. Their offensive line allowed a lot of sacks last year (34), though that number should be improved with more experienced linemen.
Also, even with all the talk about their great secondary, they still gave up an average of 224 passing yards per game in 2011. Some of the passing numbers included: 295 yards to Liberty, 337 yards to Wake Forest, 303 yards to Clemson and 274 yards to Louisville.
So, they can be had if you can pass accurately.
There are so many good things that have happened to the Vols the past few months, but there is still more to do. One very important item can only be addressed by playing games.
For lack of a better phrase, call it "team confidence." Tennessee is a team that desperately needs to get off to a good start this season.
A 4-0 start would galvanize this team, and like a shield, would absorb the verbal shots that will be thrown their way sometime during the season.
By the same token, a 2-2 start may open the team up and make them much more susceptible to those outside shots that will be lobbed.
It's hard to convey in words just how important the first five games of 2012 will be. 3-2 or 4-1 and this becomes a very dangerous team for the remainder of the season. 2-3 and the team is also a danger—though more likely to itself rather than anyone else.
Here's to hoping Rocky Top rocks the Georgia Dome on August 31.