Category Archives: Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Tennessee trends

I believe in trends when it comes to analyzing matchups in college football.  The problem with the Georgia-Tennessee game is that most of the betting line trends are mixed.

The 17-point spread is the largest in the history of the Tennessee-Georgia series. … The Vols haven’t beaten the Bulldogs since 2009, back when Lane Kiffin was head coach. … In 2013, the first year under Butch Jones, Tennessee lost to Georgia 34-31, but covered as a 13.5-point dog. That game was played in Tennessee. … The Vols are 6-9 against the spread and 9-6 to the UNDER under Butch Jones. … Georgia is 2-1 ATS and 3-0 to the OVER this season.

Low scoring game?  Maybe.  Georgia covers?  Maybe again.

Still, there are a couple of things worth noting.  For one, the Vols haven’t won an SEC opener in ten seasons.  And for another,

In their five road games against ranked teams the past two seasons, the Volunteers were doomed by 15 turnovers, including three against the Sooners, and carry a minus-9 turnover margin into Saturday’s trip to No. 12 Georgia.

Old habits tend to be hard to break.  Let’s hope that continues to be the case on Saturday.

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Standard preparation for Tennessee Week

Richt’s not taking anything for granted.

Rocky Top, Tennessee!

Yes, Saturday’s game is in Athens. But the Bulldogs were still blasting “Rocky Top” at practice this week.

“I’m sure they’ll bring their band,” Richt. “I hope our players are getting sick of it.”

If they haven’t, you’re not doing your job well enough, Coach.

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Miscommunication breakdown

Tennessee offensive tackle blames high sack rate on miscommunication.  But that’s all fixed now.

“It really is important to be able to spend time together, and these past weeks, being able to work at the same positions has really helped,” Kerbyson said. “I’ve started to mesh more at left tackle. Getting good reps against quality guys with Curt [Maggitt] and [Derek] Barnett over there has really gotten me ready for whatever I have to face.

“Then Jashon and Coleman working together, they’ve got to be able to mesh really well, whether it’s games from the defensive end or double teams and what they need to do on run-blocks. It really is important for the past two weeks of all working together.”

I’m trying to figure out which will have a greater impact Saturday – an extra week of practice, or a loud, noisy home crowd disrupting timing, snap counts and protection calls.  Hmm…

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“We haven’t beaten ‘em since I’ve been here, so that’s the main goal.”

In a fitting metaphor for the current state of Tennessee football, A.J. Johnson relates how one of his career highlights was observing his teammates’ excitement in a game they lost.

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Urnge is the new black, a first look at Tennessee-Georgia

The Dawgs have a chance to get off the division schneid Saturday, as Rocky Top comes to town.  To get a start on what’s about to arrive, you might take a look at this mid-season overview.  Some high points from it:

  • Through three games, Tennessee’s allowed nine sacks after the veteran group that put four players on NFL rosters surrendered just 15 all of last season. A better comparison is perhaps the 2010 offensive line, also an inexperienced group, that also allowed nine in the season’s first three games, including six to Florida.

  • Against Oklahoma, Tennessee often stacked the box with up to eight defenders and used a variety of slants and twists on the defensive line, and it largely worked. With an undersized group, the Vols likely will have to rely on a similar blueprint for the power-run teams left on the schedule. Tennessee also must find more depth after using essentially six linemen so far.

  • If the Vols have to continue to gear their defensive game plans toward stopping opponents from running the ball, Tennessee’s secondary will have to manage being left in some one-on-one matchups. Against Oklahoma, the Vols allowed five passing plays of 20-plus yards, and eight missed tackles were a big reason why.

And my thoughts:

First, it’s not just sacks that are a problem.  Check out how the Vols have done with tackles for loss allowed.  That ain’t pretty.  It’s also more than twice Georgia’s rate.  Does that mean Georgia’s offensive line has performed better than Tennessee’s?  Probably, but it’s just as likely to mean that Worley’s holding the ball longer than Mason and that UT’s running backs aren’t as good as avoiding tackles in the backfield as Todd Gurley.  It’s probably going to be the case every week, but the biggest key to a win on Saturday is Georgia’s pass rush.

Stacking eight undersized defenders in the box to slow down the run reminds me of something Todd Gurley said:  “Because if they want to put six or seven guys in the box I’m like, OK, do that. I like that though, because it’s good because if you get past that second level all you have is the safeties.”  It brings to mind how Georgia ground down Clemson’s defense until the dam broke in the fourth quarter.

And as long as Georgia sells the run, you know what else that means.  Butch Jones knows what else that means.

Finally, Jones is talking about starting as many as five true freshmen on offense Saturday.  That’s a lot of green you’re asking to face a hostile SEC crowd on the road.

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Big Urnge Number

Georgia opens as a 19-point favorite over Tennessee.  Too much?

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That’s some dry spell you got there.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of ways that Tennessee’s current run of futility can be categorized.  Take this:

Tennessee is just 2-28 against ranked opponents since the start of the 2008 season, with wins over a ranked South Carolina team in 2009 and 2013. In that time the Vols have had just one winning season — 7-6 in 2009 — and are 33-41 overall under four different coaches.

Tennessee has not beaten a top-five foe since beating then No. 4-ranked LSU in 2005.

Mike Hamilton was the bomb.

Oh, and good luck in Norman today, fellas.

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