Last week, we answered some questions about our beloved Hokies for Bloguin homie, SECRivals. This week, Darrell Owenby of SECR returns the favor and provides a little insight into Lane Kiffin and the Vols.
With all the expectations, controversy, and hot wife-ness surrounding Lane Kiffin, how are fans feeling about their new coach?
Kiffin was hired to turn the program around, period. He is young, can actually identify with his players, and is not afraid to buck traditions. For the most part, fans of the former regime excluded, the fans are happy with Kiffin and his staff. Although the Vols only won seven games this year, the fans liked the product that they saw on the field. Heck, after the third game EVERYBODY wanted Crompton thrown under the bus … they were wrong.
While some view the secondary violations as a problem, count the violations. There are six to date. There have been schools in the SEC self report more than that in a single day. A mountain is being made out of a mole hill because, in part, there are factions of the national media that simply do not like Kiffin. These factions will take a shot at Kiffin (and UT) every chance they get.
Kiffin and his staff are masters of the ‘grey area’ recruiting … while some of their tactics are questionable, they are far from illegal.
The face of the Tennessee fan has changed. When Phillip Fulmer was terminated, it was almost like a changing of the guard. Instead of a blue haired ‘fan’ sitting in section T of Neyland Stadium telling everyone to sit the hell down because you are blocking his/her view, now you’re looking at younger, louder UT fans who are going to be willing to get up into your grill about their team.
With that said, the intensity on the UT pressure cooker gets turned up in year three … it doesn’t matter who the coach is, the fans expect a winner in Knoxville by year three.
Virginia Tech comes into this game ranked 14th in total defense. What will Tennessee have to do offensively to win this game?
In games this year that everyone expected the Vols to line up and play smash mouth football, the Vols have lined up and thrown the ball all over the yard. In order to get the ground game going against Va Tech, look for UT to attempt to establish the passing game first. If Crompton gets rattled by the defense, the Vols are in for a long night. Ultimately, Tennessee must be able to run the ball to win the game, but they have to be able to throw it first.
Wow, 55th? So they are right in there with Mississippi State and Valdosta State?
Run the ball wide left. WIDE LEFT. No matter who the defensive end on that side is, they have shown a tendency to allow themselves to under run the play and get hooked. UT also has depth problems at linebackerwhich doesn’t help their situation. At the same time, run away from Eric Berry’s side of the field. Berry plays closer to the line of scrimmage and is an absolute terror.
There seems to always be a player (or 5) on each team that all the home fans hate. Which player would most Tennessee fans like to see graduate a year early?
Three years early: Janzen Jackson. After the “We gotta go” pellet gun robbery at the Pilot on the Cumberland Strip, Jackson is living proof that you can change your story five times and still play immediately … if you are a five star athlete. Outside of Jackson, every UT fan wants to see every kicker on the team not make the trip to Atlanta, bypass their Junior and Senior seasons and quit the team.
Living in Volunteer country whilst not being a fan of the team must be tough. What is your biggest complaint about the fan base?
It isn’t ‘that’ tough, especially the past few years. Many do not realize it, but I am a former UT fan … don’t ask … the most difficult part is dealing with the UT Kool-Aid drinkers … you can never speak the truth about the team, no matter how bad it may be. You either graze with the sheep or you eat with the goats. Personally, I have never been a sheep of any team.
Granted, you will get that from nearly any team in the nation, but face the reality: UT fans can be very difficult to deal with (you hear that TR?) whether they are winning or not. When they are facing shitty years (last couple), all you hear about is the ‘good old days’ (1951, 1998) … for a team that has two national titles to their credit, there is a percentage of the UT fan base that can really talk a good game.
So there you have it. Run the ball outside and we win. Look for a lot of draws up the middle… like you weren’t expecting that already.
Full preview and the ever-popular predictions coming up shortly.
It’s bowl weeks, folks. Get pumped. Lives are on the line.