Today at 2:00pm EST, Tennessee AD Dave Hart took to the microphone. Then with his words, during an introductory statement and followup answers to questions from the media, Mr. Hart made it clear that he is his own man and is in control of the current coaching situation.
In the first half, the Tennessee defense held Missouri to 7 points (scored on a kickoff return for a TD), only 27 snaps, no big plays (none >20 yards), no Red Zone visits, only 4 first downs, and only 64 total yards.
Then, after taking the second-half opening kickoff, Kendial Lawrence ran a rather simple misdirection running play up the middle for 77 yards and a TD.
It cut the Tennessee lead to 21-14.
It cut a big hole in what confidence Sal Sunseri’s defensive troops may have gathered during the opening half.
It cut open the floodgates of the habit of losing.
Missouri Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 10 November 2012 | 12:21pm EST
Neyland Stadium (102,455) | Knoxville, TN | SECN/ESPN3
This is one of the most interesting matchups of the season for Tennessee as well as being a game that holds little interest — all in the same bundle.
Tennessee’s offense set a new school record for most number of total yards in a game (718). Tennessee’s defense set a new school record for the most number of total yards allowed in a game (721).
Both of these events happened on the same day, in the same game, which also saw the most combined yards in any Tennessee game (1,439).
During his introductory press conference in 2010, Derek Dooley said that under his leadership, the Vols would play exciting football. Saturday was exciting, but Dooley didn’t have Saturday in mind when he said this almost three years ago.
The Vol defense is killing the promise of this season.
But you already knew that.
And some of you think of that promise as being long dead.
One of the main descriptive statistics that we have used here to evaluate performance on the field is that of the Big Play. A Big Play is defined very simply: any play from scrimmage that gains 20 or more yards.
Obviously, a touchdown pass on a 4th & goal at the opponent’s 9 yard line could be considered as a “big play”, but the objective here is to look at the long gains because those are the plays that (1) are a measure of the difference in player speed; and (2) have the biggest tendency to break down the will of the opponent, especially if accomplished multiple times.
In the first five games of 2012, the Vols defense has given up a total of 28 big plays.
How important have they been in defining Tennessee’s season so far? Have a look at this chart…
With 12 minutes left to play in the second quarter, it looked like Georgia’s 17-point lead would increase by the minute to the point where CBS would announce that at halftime they were switching to another game, any game, to prevent the nation from viewing the continuing carnage.
Instead, Tennessee would hold the lead before halftime after three unanswered touchdowns. It was a game that by the fourth quarter had turned into a football war — one fitting for this rivalry series already filled with crazy, memorable games.
Beginning with Tyler Bray’s pass that was intercepted and returned for an Akron touchdown on just the fourth play of the game, Tennessee found themselves in a difficult position for much of this game. It wasn’t until the Vols were able to get their third interception deep into the final quarter that Big Orange Country was able to exhale.
For the neutral fan, this was a highly entertaining game. A tally of 977 total yards, 630 of which were in the air, will tend to create that kind of enjoyable viewing. But for the Volunteer fan, this was anything but fun. There were visions of a season-destroying loss that kept appearing in the collective consciousness of the Vol Nation.
One of my favorite sportswriters the I read in the local papers in the Bay Area is fond of a certain format that is based on three dots used to represent not so much missing information in a sentence as a pause in thought – a transition to another thought or subject.
Hence the title of this post, unless you failed english grammar, or are too old to remember.
Off we go. …
Two weeks ago, Tennessee Vols head football coach Derek Dooley officially became an embattled coach. Four of his assistants had left. Charlie Baggett, receivers coach, either retired, left to pursue other coaching opportunities, or was simply not retained, depending on the source of the information. Eric Russell, tight ends and special teams coach, left to join the staff of Mike Leach being assembled at Washington State. The earth-shaker was defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon leaving Knoxville in lateral moves to the University of Washington.