Tennessee Volunteers - Big Orange Roundtable: Week 4

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Tennessee Volunteers - Big Orange Roundtable: Week 4

King for the week!  This week’s Roundtable is hosted here at Gate 21

Oh, to be in Camelot!!!

 

Having, as Joel put it, taken the the sword from Rocky Top Talk — pointy-end first — and due to a complete lack of standards, this week’s Big Orange Roundtable is being hosted here at Gate 21.

At present the roundtable includes: 3rd Saturday in Blogtober, Fulmer’s Belly, Gate 21, Rocky Top Talk, Loser With Socks, the World According to MoonDog (a/k/a MoonDog Sports), The Power T, Your Mother Slept With Wilt Chamberlain, and the SouthEastern Sports Blog. If you’d like to join, feel free to let us know.

In furtherance of our quest for the answers to life’s burning questions — at least respecting the Tennessee Volunteers, here are this week’s questions — courtesy of your truly — along with my particularly meaningless answers.

Week 4

(Questions in Bold)

1) Thus far we’ve made a number of predictions for the 2008 Vols.  Now, let’s take the next step: What are your pre-season predictions for each of Tennessee’s regular season games this year (along with any explanations you feel are needed)?

Date

Opponent

(Home Games in Bold)

Win or Loss

Prediction

1 Sept

 

UCLA

Win

Tennessee leads for majority of game.  Wins easily after Eric Berry shreds UCLA offensive threats.

Final Score:  28 - 7

13 Sept

UAB

Win

UAB stays close until mid-way through 2nd Quarter.  Vols stretch their legs in 2nd half.

Final Score:  41 - 14

20 Sept

Florida

Loss

Florida scores early in the 1st and quiets the crowd.  Vols close the gap, but turnovers kill them in the 2nd half in a close game.

Final Score:  28 - 24

27 Sept

Auburn

Loss

Teams stay close throughout first 3 quarters.  Auburn makes key stops in fourth and capitalizes to win in defensive struggle.

Final Score:  13 - 9

4 Oct

Northern Illinois

Win

After 2 tough losses, Vols enjoy beating up on a less talented team.

Final Score:  38 - 3

11 Oct

Georgia

Win

Despite pre-season talk of national championship.  Vols “upset” Georgia.  It will not be the Dawg’s only loss.

Final Score:  21 -14

18 Oct

Mississippi State

Win

Scrappy Miss. State team fights to the wire.  Vols come away with a victory — barely — thanks to Daniel Lincoln’s foot.

Final Score:  20 - 17

25 Oct

Alabama

Win

Tide comes out raring to go, but so does Tennessee’s defense.  It is close at halftime, but not at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Final Score:  28 - 10

1 Nov

South Carolina

Win

Vols use South Carolina’s lack of discipline on offense to kill the Gamecocks.  Spurrier wears a pink tu-tu in the 2nd half as a motivational tool — it fails.

Final Score:  35 - 17

8 Nov

Wyoming

Win

Vols give Wyoming’s unconventional offense a lesson on why it’s called “unconventional” — because it only works on rare occasions.

Final Score:  31 - 7

22 Nov

Vanderbilt

Win

At halftime, Tennessee leads by 3 points.  When Vols score in the 3rd period, both of Vandy’s fans leave.  From there the Vols widen the gap.

Final Score:  21 - 10

29 Nov

Kentucky

Win

It’s cold and nasty as Kentucky takes one in the chops.  Unfortunately, their fans realize the whole “wait till basketball season” thing simply doesn’t work anymore.

Final Score:  28 - 7

Those are my pre-season thoughts, and like all pre-season predictions, they are utterly meaningless…

2) Gameday routines, we all have them.  What are your gameday rituals, especially those that are completely irrational, grounded in baseless superstition, or otherwise defy explanation?

Well, as I recounted in Week 2, my gameday ritual is one which includes a lot of driving, and little time for tailgating.  Thus, I suppose my gamedays are a little less “ritualistic” than some.  Still, I have my tried and tested routines which I tend to stick to closely.

Since Sam & Andy’s closed, I generally eat my pre-game meal at Smokey’s in the University Center — It’s not grand faire, but at least the lines are that long.  As a general rule, I don’t eat much before a game — especially big games — due to the fact that I’d just as soon not end up spending my time in the Neyland Stadium bathrooms, remodeled or not.

As a general rule, I rarely drink any alcohol on gamedays — not because I’m a teetotaler, but because I find it is generally ill-advised to show up to the stadium “overcome by a multitude of circumstances.“  I have never favored drinking before a game — mainly because I want to be able to remember the game.  There have, however, been a few games which have made me wish I had gotten knee-crawlin’ drunk before kickoff, if only to dull the pain, and to encourage explosive projectile vomiting on opposing fans.

My biggest tradition is that I smoke a big nasty cigar before each game, and — if we win — one afterwards.  This is really the only time I smoke at all.  I do realize that they take years off your life, but they are the ones at the end, and they aren’t any good anyway.  Besides, people tend to get out of your way and run for cover when you have a flaming stick protruding from your mouth which smells like smoldering death.  I guess I blame Doctor Julian, and his constant cigar smoking for that one.

Oh!  What’s that Hell you’re playing?

Dr. W.J. Julian, Director of Bands Emeritus

After I have incinerated my taste buds, I usually wait for the Pride of the Southland to do their “Salute to the Hill” and enter the stadium.  I waited for the Vol Walk once — in 2002 — but after seeing Casey Clausen come pimp-strutting by wearing a suit the color of something that came out of a baby’s diaper, immediately before getting annihilated by Florida, I’ve skipped it.

Once inside the stadium, I loudly heckle Bobby Denton as he announces the line-ups.  It is interesting how skillfully he can butcher some of the names — despite the fact there are printed pronunciations in the media guide.

Then I settle back and enjoy watching inattentive fans take footballs in the head as the kicking team warms up, before settling in for a 4-hour battle — my lucky towel always tucked in my belt.

Since they added them to the concessions at the game, I usually eat a Petro at some point in the game, mainly because I love those things…

Hmmm, now that I think about it, I’m pretty white-bread…

3) Crompton vs. Tebow?   Discuss…

This is naturally one of the hot topics this year as the “Straight Outta Crompton” era begins.  The similarities between these two quarterbacks are striking — both have the ability to throw on you, and both have the willingness and the skills to run straight at opposing defenses.  Obviously, Tim Tebow has experience on his side, and a trophy which — according to some — has elevated him to the status of deity.  By the same token, Jonathan Crompton has a fearlessness which Tebow has never really seemed to demonstrate.

Tebow managed 20 rushing and 20 passing touchdowns in 2007, and broke pretty much every record for running quarterbacks.  I question, however, whether that was as much a function of his innate abilities as it was Florida’s willingness to sellout on a new offensive scheme which, at the time, was somewhat unconventional.  As their final 9-4 record for 2007 shows, the Florida Gators were very beatable (apparently just not by Tennessee).  The biggest weakness for the Florida offense last year was the running backs — they really didn’t have one.  Tebow, who runs like a fullback, is at his best running when in close quarters, either up the middle, or on sweeps and draws.  As we all know he has exhibited great speed and elusive moves, and is a serious threat on any play.  Still, at times his decision making has essentially rendered Florida’s offense one-dimensional.  Saint Tebow versus the world.  Furthermore, while Tebow ran like a madman throughout the season, he did so at a price — suffering several injuries which hampered his production.

Crompton, on the other hand, is still somewhat of an unknown.  As he made clear while filling in for Erik Ainge in 2006, he has a cannon of an arm.  Like a cannon, however, sometimes his aim is … well … not what it could be.  That said, with an extra year of experience under his belt, it would seem likely that his throwing abilities could have only improved.  As I said previously, I have some concerns about his mental game — whether he has the discipline to make smart decisions in choosing his receivers and his routes.  By the same token, Crompton has a running style which really defies explanation when it comes to running quarterback.  at 6′4″, 220″, he has the size of Fullback, but runs more like a traditional running back.  His absolute lack of fear while running — including his complete willingness to drop his head and plant a helmet in the chest of tacklers, makes him seem more threatening in the open field than Tebow.  The speed and agility he has shown in the past makes him a serious threat in the open field, albeit less so between the tackles.  If, Crompton has stepped up to the next level and is mentally prepared, he could be an absolute terror this season — especially under the tuteledge of new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson.  Furthermore, thus far it has seemed that Crompton has a greater potential to burn defenses with the long ball while passing than Tebow, but — again — his track record is limited and it is hard to say for certain.

In the end, we probably don’t have enough information to make a fair comparison between the two … yet.  Hopefully, Crompton will come out full force from the start.  That said with both a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, it is likely that there will be some miscues in the early games.  By the midpoint of the season, however, I strongly believe that Crompton has the potential to be every bit as good as Tebow.

Needless to say, I am seriously looking forward to seeing them go head-to-head when they meet on 20 September.

4) Will the Vols manage to make it to the SEC Championship Game again this season — either outright, or through the backdoor?  Why or why not?

Well, in all honesty, the Vols probably never should have been anywhere near Atlanta for the SEC Championship game last year.  Still, when it came down to it, they earned the trip and were one boneheaded pass away from potentially beating the LSU Tigers.  Thus, I guess they were better than most gave them credit for.

Be that as it may, I think it is highly unlikely that the Vols make the return trip this year.  Though it pains me to say it, I have Florida picked to go to the Championship from the SEC East to play either LSU or Auburn.  I believe that Tennessee — being the perpetual bridesmaid — will finish second, just ahead of a 2-conference loss Georgia (with the tie going to Tennessee due to a head-to-head win).  If the Vols manage to somehow beat Florida or Auburn — or miraculously both of them — then that would change things dramatically (as if that were not self-evident).

In the end, I simply think that the offense will be too new this year, and thus will have a difficult time during September.  With new starting quarterback Jonathan Crompton, and a new offensive scheme under Dave Clawson, I simply think it will take the Vols at least half the season to find offensive consistency.  Unfortunately, the Vols schedule (as always) is heavily weighted to the front end.  That means the chance of two early-season conference losses which will effectively knock them out of contention for the SEC East.

That said, they could be hell-on-wheels by 2009…

5) Of all the coaches in the SEC who do you currently consider to be the best?  Why?

I know a lot of folks will say Les Miles, Tommy Tubberville, or maybe even Urban Meyer.  For me, however, I have got to go with Sylvester Croom who has coached the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the last 5 years.  When Croom took over, the Bulldogs were awful — they just plain sucked.  After 3 years of winning only 3 games, however, Croom finally seemed to turn the corner in Starkville in 2007 finishing 8-5 (4-4 SEC) for the season — the first winning season for Miss. State since 2000.

While I realize his win / loss record is not what it could be (17-30 overall) managing to bring the Bulldogs back to respectability is, in my book, a major accomplishment.  Let’s be frank here, it’s called “Stark“ville for a reason.  Recruiting for the Bulldogs is probably as challenging as any other school in the SEC, perhaps with the exception of Vanderbilt.  Yet, somehow, Croom has managed to right the ship and bring the program back from the bowels of football hell.

What’s more, this year’s team returns 14 starters — all of whom were recruited by Croom — and looks to be set to make another strong showing this year.  They should be even better than they were in 2007, and I’d be highly surprised if the Bulldogs don’t end up in a bowl this year.  I have real fear when it comes to the Vols game against the Bulldogs this year.  My only hope is that the boys in orange don’t “overlook” the cowbell clan — if they do, they will lose.

I sincerely hope that Croom keeps builds on his successes from 2007 and continues to bring Miss. State back to the forefront of the SEC West.  It’s one thing to win at LSU, Florida, or Auburn — if you can win at Mississippi State, you can win anywhere.

The Rest of the Roundtable:

Having wasted your time on my largely meaningless and insignificant thoughts for this week, go check out what the other roundtablers (who actually know what they are talking about) have to say.  I’ll be updating the links as each new post comes up — that is, unless they all refuse to answer my asinine questions.  Assuming that they do answer the questions and that you do not value the lining of your stomach, feel free to come back on Friday to see the round-up of what everyone had say (In no particular order):

  • 3rd Saturday in Blogtober
  • YMSWWC
  • World According to Moondog
  • UT Vols Football
  • Fulmer’s Belly
  • Loser With Socks
  • The Power T
  • Rocky Top Talk
  • SouthEastern Sports Blog

It’s nice to be king, well, at least until they behead you…

 

– Go Figure …Email lawvol

 


 

Images Courtesy of: DawgSports.com • The University of Tennessee

Tags: Basketball, Big Orange Roundtable, Championship, College Football, Dave Clawson, Fark, Football, Gate 21, Jonathan Crompton, LSU Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Northern Illinois Huskies, Petro's, Pride of the Southland, Ramblings, SEC, SEC Football, Sylvester Croom, Tennessee Home for the Visually Offensive, Tennessee Volunteers, Tim Tebow, UCLA Bruins, Video, Vols, W.J. Julian, Wyoming Cowboys

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