The football stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee bares his name. General Robert Reese Neyland is a football icon in the long and storied history of college football. Neyland was head football coach of the Vols on three separate occasions for a total of 21 seasons, taking breaks to serve his country in time of need with the United States Army.
Widely recognized as the greatest defensive football coach of all-time, Neyland's Vols from the 1938-1939 seasons played a record 71 consecutive quarters without being scored upon. The 1939 team is the last college football team to roll through an entire regular season without giving up a single point.
Neyland's all-time record at Tennessee was an amazing 173 wins, 31 losses, and 12 ties. 112 of those victories were by shutout.
Over the course of his splendid coaching career, General Neyland developed a set of principles for playing the game of football at the highest level. They are known as Neyland's Maxims.
Let's examine Neyland's Maxims and see how the Vols can utilize them to pull of the upset in the game this week at LSU.
1- The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
Obviously Tennessee is not strong enough to make many mistakes and win at Baton Rouge. It will be critical to win the turnover battle in this contest. LSU's offense has not proved to be a strength to this point in the season. Clearly, the strength of this LSU team is their defense, led by former Tennessee Defensive Coordinator, John Chavis. The Vols cannot afford to turn the ball over and give the Tiger's a short field.
2- Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson is prone to turning the ball over having thrown 4 interceptions compared to only 2 touchdown passes for the season. If Tennessee can come up with a turnover it will be paramount to convert it into a score. Missed opportunities off turnovers will kill the Vols chances of pulling an upset. In a close contest the Vols may also have to create breaks such as an onside kick or fake punt, when they work, it's just like a turnover.
3- If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up...put on more steam.
This will be the first road game of the year for the young Vols. Death Valley can be a tough place to play. Tennessee cannot let early adversity take away their will to compete. Don't let up....give your all for Tennessee!
4- Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.
Quarterback protection has been an issue for Tennessee's young offensive line as Matt Simms was sacked five times in last weeks win over UAB. One of the keys for QB protection is to establish the running game. Simms did it all last week but won't be able to carry all the weight against LSU. According to Beano Cook it was Neyland who once said, "When you throw the ball, three things can happen-and two of them are bad." The Vols desperately need to establish the run.
Vols offensive unit must help keep the Tennessee defense off the field. The defense played 92 snaps last week against UAB, mostly due to the Vols inability to convert on third-down plays. Out of 120 FBS football programs, Tennessee ranks 119th in third-down conversion percentage at 18.97%. Only San Jose State is worse at 16.33%. LSU is at 41.51% on third-down tries.
5- Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle..for this is the winning edge.
The Vols have not done any of the above very well in the last three games. Major improvements must be made in all of these areas, especially tackling. Though LSU's passing game is week, they have an excellent running back in Stevan Ridley, averaging 5.8 yards-per-carry. They also have a lethal kick returner in Patrick Peterson who averages around 30 yards-per-return, whether it be a kickoff or a punt. The Vols would be wise to find #7 and stay away from him in kicking situations. Great tackling will play a major role if the Vols are to pull of the upset.
6- Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
LSU has a great kicker in Josh Jasper but so does Tennessee in Daniel Lincoln. Lincoln has opened the 2010 season by hitting all seven of his field goal tries. A blocked field goal attempt could be huge in this game, remember the Alabama game last year. This East-West struggle in the SEC could very well be decided by one of these two kickers.
7- Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.
The Vols learned an early lesson in the loss to Oregon. Coach Derek Dooley called out the Vols and there competitive spirit has been there ever since. It is a 60 minute game, sometimes longer as we saw last week. Tennessee will have to "carry the fight" to LSU to pull the upset. They must play to win rather than not to lose.
If Tennessee can successfully employ all of General Neyland's Maxims or principles, they can come out of Baton Rouge with a shocking upset that will shake the SEC. If they have letdowns in any of the seven, it will be difficult. A Big Orange victory over LSU would be priceless for first-year coach Derek Dooley, who'll be gunning for his first SEC win, and the millions of fans that make up the Volnation. And somewhere from above, the General will be smiling down on his boys.
UT - LSU Game Notes
Vols enter with a record of 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the conference. Tennessee leads the all-time series with a 20-7-3 mark against the Tigers. LSU will be the third top 10 ranked opponent that the Vols have faced in their first 5 games.
Les Miles' LSU team comes in with a 4-0 record and 2-0 in conference play. Tigers are nationally ranked at #10 in the coaches poll and #12 in the AP. LSU is 3-8-2 all-time versus the Vols in Baton Rouge. Kick off is set for 3:30 ET or 2:30 CT.