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February 23, 2006

Tennessee pre-Spring Preview: Checking in with the Enemy

The Georgia Sports Blog is working to pull together a series of interviews with bloggers from Georgia's rivals. The interviews will look at pre-Spring expectations. If you have additional questions you would like me to ask these guys, let me know.

We kick things off pre-spring by interviewing UT Blogger and regular GSB Reader TennVolChamp. Excerpts below:

- What are your expectations for Spring Ball for your the Vols?
Get this ship off the sand bar before the waves tear it apart. This team and program and fan base need some good things to talk about and feel optimistic about. Spring ball won't answer many questions but it's the chance to start purging the bad taste in our mouth from the disaster that was 2005 and reported below-par recruiting season. So far so good for the "off the field" side as we don't yet have any entries in the EDSBS's Fulmer Cup.

Fark by Gator "Big Mike" from EDSBS

- What is the most interesting position battle brewing for spring?
This has to be the QB position. After our inconsistent, often poor and rarely outstanding play in 2005, our much needed improvement on the offensive side of the ball starts here. The battle will be between Ainge (can he get his head re-attached) and red-shirt freshman Jon Crompton (who had off season shoulder surgery). Also, possibly in the mix could be the new Stephens kid, a signee from Texas who supposedly has a rocket arm but only played 1 year in HS. Jim Bob Cooter will still be relegated to the most famous QB name to never have played a down in a game.

We wall want to see a lot more Cooter on the field.

- What position do you feel most confident about?
This would be positions with "back" in their title. Running backs we feel real good about particularly with the way Arian Foster played the latter part of the season with 3 games over 200 yards. Defensive backs we feel good about with some experience coming back and what most people think was solid performance last year (except on some random 3rd and long plays). Linebackers, although we lost a couple of good ones, are solid as there were several younger guys who played a lot of time in 2005.

Fulmer has been quoted on the speaker circuit as saying our WR play last year was the worst he's seen in his tenure. Word is the younger guys (Briscoe, Rogers, Taylor) are really stepping up, putting pressure on the more experienced guys (Meacham, Smith and Swain). Also, there's been talk about the WR's losing weight to improve their quickness/speed.

Arron Sears, 32 year starter for the Vols welcomes his college roommate, David Cutcliffe, back to Knoxville.

- What position are you most nervous about?
It's not a "position" as it is the ENTIRE offensive side of the ball. We're just not used to averaging under 20 points a game (we're not Kentucky you know) so everyone's hope (or suspicion) is that the offensive will return to the productivity of the 90's where someone usually had to score 35 or more to beat us.

Cutcliffe. A man with no lips.

- Are you expecting any new wrinkles this Spring in scheme?
We're very curious if the return of David Cutcliffe to run the offense will result in many differences. We're not anticipating "scheme" changes as much as "execution" improvement. There has been a lot of talk about how demanding Cutcliffe is and how he runs practices with lots of discipline. Supposedly, in order for the offense to finish practice they have to run 10 plays WITHOUT error. Sounds like common sense to me but evidently wasn't something we'd been doing in the past.

Fulmer licks his chops at the idea of Cutcliffe's return.

- Are there any big coaching changes that will impact your team this spring?
Obviously with the departure of tobacco-chewing Randy Sanders (who is highly qualified to run a Kentucky-style offense) and the return of David Cutcliffe there's lots to talk about. Cutcliffe brought his TE coach from Ole Miss, who's supposedly also a strong recruiter. And lo and behold we hired the Kentucky QB coach. That's a move that's been viewed suspiciously - on paper who'd want any football coach from Kentucky? Trooper Taylor - super recruiter and Mr. Chest Bump RB coach - I think is now in charge of WR's. Also, on the chat board "Gridscape" there's been some discussion expressing disappointment we didn't hire another african-american onto the staff. That type of banter only rears its ugly head when you go 5-6.

- What is the biggest question that you do NOT expect to get resolved this spring? (for instance at UGA it would be the QB battle) Will the offense improve enough? You just don't know what the team will really do until they actually play in a real game.

Phyllis from Mulga and TennVolChamp both wonder. Who replaces Brodie?

- Is there any program that you're following this spring other than your own? Looking for tidbits?
Bama - What player will fill the role of gay college football icon (see boifromtroy) now that Brodie has moved on? If a new QB doesn't step up, how will Bama fans blame Fulmer and Tennessee for these problems?

Thanks to TennVolChamp for taking the time for this interview!

In the coming weeks, you might see similar reports on the Jackets, Gators, Aubies, etc. We'll see how it goes.

Photos and Captions by PWD


Darth Scooter said...

As someone who grew up with UT media crammed down my throat everyday of my life, I always get a kick out of the great pride that UT takes in its November records and stats.

"Running backs we feel real good about particularly with the way Arian Foster played the latter part of the season with 3 games over 200 yards."

Of course they always forget to mention their November schedule always consists of powerhouse match ups like Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Last year just for fun they threw in a real powerhouse from out of conference, Memphis. I'm not saying Foster sucks. I'm just not sure what 200 yard games against bottom of the barrel opponents proves.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

None of Foster's stats, no matter which team they came against, are as noteworthy as the fact that UT has a black guy named "Arian." Come on, people!

Worrier said...


I didn't say he was a Heisman candidate. I just said we felt good about him. He was a lone bright spot on a blighted offense. Few would argue, although bitter/scorned people can always find a way, that to average around 150 yards rushing as a 2nd string RS Freshman in the last 5 games (includes S. Carolina and ND) on an offense that can't score more than 15 points a game gives one reason to "feel good".

Darth Scooter said...

Like I said, I'm not saying he's not any good. I just hear November greatness stories every year from UT, and think its funny. Until this year I think they were 130-0 in November or at least thats what I get told every year. Its no different from the UGA people who go Championship crazy every September when we beat the likes of NW Technical Louisiana, Mississippi State, Carolina, and New Mexico School for the Blind.

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