Thoughts on the Kentucky game (long read)

#1

GregAmsler

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#1
First the bad:

-That's the worst defensive performance, by far, of the season. It's also the worst defensive performance I can remember that ended in a Tennessee win in a long time. Especially considering that Kentucky's offense has not been good this season. The missed tackles were ridiculous. Busts in the secondary. Very little pressure on the QB. Allowing more QB rushing yardage (that HAS to be figured out). The off week helped Tennessee get healthy, but it didn't seem to help the defense at all. They regressed.

-Tiyon Evans just cannot be counted on. Heupel needs to sign at least 2 RBs in this class and Wright/Beckwith/Whitehead need to develop before next season. I thought Evans would be fine after his injury against SC because he was doing backflips after the game and looked fine on the sidelines. But then he didn't play against Ole Miss and played sporadically against Bama. I thought he'd be fine against Kentucky because he played some against Bama and had 2 weeks to heal. Then he takes one hit and doesn't play again. But then he looks fine on the sideline and celebrating after the game last night. I think this is a case of a guy not knowing the difference between being injured and being hurt. He's Tennessee's best RB, but if this is his M.O., it may be time to move on from him until he's ready to play at less than 100%. And did Small get hurt again? Why did Wright finish the game?

-The flag on Stoops after the missed facemask call was awful. I'm glad it didn't decide the game, but it could have. One of 1,000 reasons football is better than basketball is the impact that officials have on basketball. I hate the discretion given to refs for giving technicals because they don't like something a coach says. Let's keep that crap out of football. With targeting and the sensitivity of PI calls now, referee impact seems to be growing in football and I hate that.

-Tennessee was probably outplayed by Kentucky. Lost the yardage battle, fumbled 3 times (only lost 1), and the time of possession was very one-sided.

-Our Linebackers were terrible last night. Beasley had an awful game.

The good:

-Tennessee found a way to win in spite of being outplayed. That's the sign of a winning culture and a winning program. These kids believe they should win and the effort is never lacking. I love feeling this way again...that feeling that we'll find a way to win, even on off nights.

-Jeremy Banks had no personal fouls or stupid plays. Good for him.

-Wright looked better at RB than he has before. Maybe he's figuring things out and finding holes.

-Heupel's playcalling continues to be outstanding. As bad as the defense was last night, the offense was that good. It's amazing how open he gets WRs in this offense. And remember, Kentucky's strength all year has been its defense. No one has put up numbers on UK's defense like that.

-Three big "what-if" plays last night that would have made the margin more comfortable if they'd gone Tennessee's way: 1) Hyatt barely stepping out of bounds on the would-be long touchdown early in the game (3rd possession, maybe?). We fumbled on the next play, then they scored a TD. That's a 7-14 point swing (depending on what UK would have done having to go a longer field after the would-be TD); 2) On 3rd and 10, Hooker barely overshot Tillman on a post that would have been a TD. Then Tennessee failed to convert on 4th down. 7-14 point swing; 3) On 3rd and long (10 or 15 yards), Tennessee got a rare stop on a pass breakup, but Slaughter was called for a hold away from the play, giving UK a 1st down. He did tug the jersey, but it was close to within 5 yards, had no impact on the play, and usually isn't called. Had that ref kept his flag in his pocket, Kentucky punts for the only time that game. Instead they ended up with a TD. 7 point swing. Those 3 plays were the difference in 21-35 points.

-Cedric Tillman has become a very good SEC WR. I've said it before, but if he can pick up a half-step in speed this offseason, he'll be a household name and high draft pick next year.

-Hendon Hooker will be a legit Heisman candidate in this offense next year.

-Tennessee beat the #18 team in America on its home field, in a packed house, prime time game. The Vols will likely finish 7-5 in Heupel's first season. None of those things seemed like realistic possibilities before the season. Safe to say he has his signature win for Year 1 and, barring collapse, his first season is a resounding success. I thought 6-6 was best case scenario, 5-7 was my best guess, and 4-8 quite possible.

-I expect Georgia to win big next week, Tennessee should destroy Vanderbilt, and South Alabama should be a win (although that's a better team than many realize and may be closer than we'd like).

Man, this team is fun to watch.
 
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#2

TnVol!

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#2
Very good post. Coach Heupel is to be commended. What a great job he and the staff have done with a very tough hand that was dealt them. We won that game last night on the road against an arch rival that gained 616 yards, had possession of the ball for over 46 minutes, was 5 for 5 in the red zone, had no punts, and converted a. 4th and 24 on their final drive only to lose the game. Go figure. Go Volunteers!!!
 
#6

OldVolMan

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#6
Thanks for great post as usual.
I think why Small did not finish is because he actually caused one of Hookers fumbles and also he is poor blocker, two times Hooker was sacked behind line Small missed blocks.

Also, as far as linebackers both Beasley and Banks led the team in tackles, because we only had 4 defensive linemen put a lot of pressure on them. I do think our missed tackles were issue by LBs and entire defense. It seems often our defender runs past the runner instead of squaring up to the runner.

I don’t know what it is going to take to get better at stopping 3rd downs, but it seems we do better when we rush on 3rd downs. Levis did not seem comfortable when being rushed but we did it only few times.

As far as Stoops I think he was probably warned about cursing and continue to do it. He has reputation of cursing the officials over the top, even the KY fans say as much in their message board.
 
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#8

walkenvol

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#8
Concerning your comments on Wright. I thought he was supposed to have elite speed? If so, he didn’t use it when he broke loose on a couple of his carries. If what he showed was his top speed then we’ve been misled.
 
#9

GregAmsler

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#9
Thanks for great post as usual.
I think why Small did not finish is because he actually caused one of Hookers fumbles and also he is poor blocker, two times Hooker was sacked behind line Small missed blocks.

Also, as far as linebackers both Beasley and Banks led the team in tackles, because we only had 4 defensive linemen put a lot of pressure on the them. I do think our missed tackles were issue by LBs and entire defense. It seems often our defender runs past the runner instead of squaring up to the runner.

I don’t know what it is going to take to get better at stopping 3rd downs, but it seems we do better when we rush on 3rd downs. Levis did not seem comfortable when being rushed but we did it only few times.

As far as Stoops I think he was probably warned about cursing and continue to do it. He has reputation of cursing the officials over the top, even the KY fans say as much in their message board.
Great points, especially about the RBs blocking. That’s another thing about Evans being out that hurts…he’s Tennessee’s best blocking RB. Big drop off after. I noticed Wright missed a block on the last sack.
 
#11

Mccage

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#11
I think as long as everything is going good Evan's wants the ball. When it's not he's on the sideline. When we finally started moving the ball on the ground last nite he was begging to come in. If he doesn't think NFL scouts aren't noticing he better wake up.
Missed tackles and gap assignment was awful last night. LB'S get caught up in traffic and get sealed off way too much. A good RB is always going to slide and Ky. has good RB's. One bright spot on D was 6. He's a player.
 
#12

GregAmsler

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#12
Another point I wanted to make as a reason why last night felt so good…that’s the best chance Kentucky will have to beat Tennessee for a long time. Heupel will continue to make this program better. Next year’s team will be better than this one. Kentucky will drop off a little next year. By Year 3, Tennessee will be Tennessee again and we may be in Year 3 of what will become another long winning streak against them.

The first order of business for Heupel was beating Kentucky, Missouri, and South Carolina like Tennessee should. He’s done that in Year 1. The next step is moving back up with the big boys (Florida and Georgia) in the East. That’s next year.
 
#13

BowlBrother85

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#13
The flag on Stoops after the missed facemask call was awful. I'm glad it didn't decide the game, but it could have.
After everything that went against us in the Ole Miss game? I'm having a hard time mustering any sympathy or sense of guilt over that series of events. I don't understand why any Tennessee fan would. Nobody ever cries for us.
 
#15

ZZ13

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#15
Most of the LBs and DBs were very passive. I watched throw after throw and run after run where aggressive pursuit wound have knocked down the pass and even intercepted. Instead they sat and waited for the game to come to them. Same with LB aggressively attacking and tackling runners. It didn’t happen. I think it’s an individual player thing and won’t improve until recruiting improves it.
 
#18

DiderotsGhost

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#18
Gotta give Kentucky some credit on offense. They knew our biggest weakness: lack of depth on D, particularly at LB. They exploited it mercilessly. I'm not sure why more teams haven't done this. I've been expecting it all season and this is the first time we've seen it. We'll likely see it next week as well against Georgia.

So, it's true that the D did not play great last night, but some of the issues would be fixed by more depth. Lack of depth against a team that can run the ball means your D is simply tired the entire game.
 
#19

Woke

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#19
I thought our D looked tired to start the game. Almost like they got too much rest or had too much time off during the bye? Whatever they looked gassed from snap 1 and that’s got to be diagnosed and fixed.

And Stoops deserved the flag and almost single-handed cost KY the game. He continued to jaw at the officials afterwards and is lucky he didn’t get penalized again imo. Yeah it was an inadvertent face mask but there was no grabbing or twisting so it wasn’t an egregious missed call plus as everyone has pointed out they converted 1st down anyway,

I saw MUCH worse blatant holding penalties go uncalled against KY’s OL that resulted in TDs on at least 2 separate occasions.

Stoops has done a good job rebuilding KY but clearly isn’t ready for prime time.
 
#20

GAVol

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#20
That was clearly a missed face mask call, but Stoops was on the field, past the numbers cussing the head official. He deserved a penalty.
It was insanely stupid on Stoops’ part. It was so blatant that the official really didn’t have much choice other than to flag him. Glad it didn’t end up mattering.
 
#22
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#22
Gotta give Kentucky some credit on offense. They knew our biggest weakness: lack of depth on D, particularly at LB. They exploited it mercilessly. I'm not sure why more teams haven't done this. I've been expecting it all season and this is the first time we've seen it. We'll likely see it next week as well against Georgia.

So, it's true that the D did not play great last night, but some of the issues would be fixed by more depth. Lack of depth against a team that can run the ball means your D is simply tired the entire game.
This 👆
 
#23

Orange Maniac

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#23
I have to wonder if the face mask wasn't called because Stoops had been yelling, screaming and acting like an idiot to the officials on his side all night long. He does this every game. That official may have thought, watch this old boy, I'm going to give you something to belly ache about for sure. His screaming at officials all the time must have some effect on how the official decides what to call and what not to call.
 
#24

orangejuice

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#24
I suggest anyone that thinks Tennessee was outplayed maybe needs to watch this:
Just because Tennessee score fast, as in SUPER fast, does not mean they were outplayed. Yes, the defense wasn’t great but what does that say about Kentucky on defense? Averaging 10 yards per play is ridiculously good.
Edit: Forgot, they talk about TN game at 31 min mark.
 

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