2:06 PM EDT, Sat October 10, 2015
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Rocky Top Talk Oct 2, 2015

Coach Phil Fulmer is Optimistic About the Future of Vol Football

I had the opportunity to talk with the former head coach of the Vols, Phillip Fulmer, and he thinks the future of Tennessee football is bright. Yesterday Coach Phil Fulmer came on the radio program I co-host to talk about his work with the Dove Men+Care Caring Coach of the Year Award and, of course, the Vols. We picked his brain about how to beat Florida and if he would have gone for two late in the Florida game: The interview was generally positive. Coach Fulmer was much more upbeat than a good portion of Tennessee's fan base has been this week, including myself. At one point he said "I...
Rocky Top Talk Oct 2, 2015

Staff Picks: Vols vs Arkansas

It was a tough week last week. Does the staff bounce back? Does the team? The Rocky Top Talk staff, like the Vols team, had a week they'd like to forget last Saturday, going just 3-4 straight up and against the spread in Florida's 28-27 comeback win over Tennessee. Closest to the Pin goes to Joel, whose 20-17 Florida prediction was just two points off on the margin and 18 points off on the total, but everyone was beaten by Vegas, whose pick of 25-23 Vols got the winner wrong, but was only three points off on the margin and seven points off on the total. The staff and the team is hoping for...
Rocky Top Talk Oct 2, 2015

Tennessee vs Arkansas Preview: The Way Forward

Two heartbreaking losses have colored the season thus far, but two home wins could change the entire story. In nine days, Tennessee could be in the driver's seat in the SEC East. Welcome back to the idea that this season matters. Here's the path.  It's not even the only one, just the quickest one. October 4:  Alabama beats Georgia (3:30 CBS) The first piece may look like only insurance from here, but with the Vols already a game down in the loss column, Tennessee could use Georgia dropping an additional game besides the one we'll get to in a couple bullet points.  And if you're...
Rocky Top Talk Oct 1, 2015

RTT Community Pick 'Em - Week 5 Trends

How our community is feeling about the week's biggest games... Congrats to friend of the blog CNMcCreary, who won the week four picks comfortably as the only entry to go 17-3: 1 CNMcCreary 17-3 190 2 Jeffkyblue22 16-4 180 3 Smoke 15-5 179 4 johnand20 15-5 173 5 PAC12 15-5 172 5 Rsbrooks25 15-5 172 5 VandyVol 13-7 172 8 Joel@RTT 16-4 170 8 chuckiepoo 16-4 170 8 acrawf 14-6 170 The Top 10 thru the first four weeks - full standings here: 1 atthejabbok 61-19 694 2 chuckiepoo 62-18 691 3 boro...
Rocky Top Talk Oct 1, 2015

The statsy game preview is throwing in with the Vols over the Razorbacks but wants anti-anxiety pills

It's strength vs. strength, weakness vs. weakness, and self vs. self, and the statsy preview's going with the Vols. The game this Saturday between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Arkansas Razorbacks has bounced around our weekly expectations chart like almost no other this season. They're like us, but in the West, so they're going to be tough! Oh, no! They've learned how to pass, so they're going to be even better! Oh, my! They lost to Toledo! Never mind! Oh, my! They lost again! Oh, my, my, my! They just did what we just did! Are they any good or not? Out of all of that noise, I think...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 30, 2015

RTT Podcast: Back Away From The Ledge Edition

Live Wednesday night at 9:30 PM ET, or download and listen later. Four days removed from heartbreak, we look back and look forward as Butch Jones and the Vols face an important date with Arkansas Saturday night.  Joel and I will ask if we're overrating, underrating, or properly rating a number of the dominant storylines surrounding Tennessee right now. If you're new to our podcast, you can listen live tonight (Wednesday) at 9:30 PM ET, or download later for your listening pleasure at any time.  You can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.  We'll be here every Tuesday or Wednesday...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 30, 2015

Butch Jones Press Conference Recap 9/30/15

Butch Jones met with media members on Wednesday to talk about Saturday's matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Here's full audio from the press conference: And here's the high notes of what Coach Jones said: -Quart'e Sapp is out for an "inordinate amount of time" due to a stress fracture -Max Arnold re-aggravated his knee and questionable for Arkansas -Ralph David Abernathy will be available for this week's game. He did good things in practice yesterday -Should know more about Pig Howard's status after seeing how he does at practice today -On whether the players have gotten past...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 30, 2015

Most Important Vol - Arkansas

Our writing staff makes its picks for the game's most important player... Last week it was all about Josh Dobbs, who was far more successful running the ball against Florida than any of us imagined.  With Arkansas coming to town, the focus of this question shifts to the defense... Will Shelton - Darrin Kirkland Jr. There should be an opportunity here for the Vol offense to stretch its legs a bit against an anemic Razorback pass defense.  But this will be the first time Tennessee's defense will go against a good back/good line combo, and "good" is an understatement on Arkansas' line. ...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 30, 2015

A win this weekend won't heal any wounds for Vol fans

After another heartbreaking loss to the Florida Gators, a win against a disappointing Arkansas squad won't impress Vol fans. This Saturday's match-up between the Tennessee Volunteers and Arkansas Razorbacks will be one of the more interesting games on the SEC slate. Not because it will be a game between elite programs at the top of their respective divisions, but because both teams are two of the more disappointing teams in the country so far this season. Both squads have head coaches under fire from both local and national media, and both are in desperate need of a win. Tennessee's woes...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 29, 2015

Tennessee Vols Trending Report: Florida

Another week, another heartbreaking loss. A lot of things are trending down for the Vols after a 28-27 loss in Gainesville. Another week, another blown fourth quarter lead. Tennessee did some things well, especially early, on the way to a two-score lead against Florida in a hostile environment. And then, just like they did two weeks ago against Oklahoma, they blew it, losing 28-27. General consensus is that this one is on the coaching staff. The Trending Report is just as upset as you are and is not interested in extended preamble. On to the trends! TRENDING UP: Playing to win (first...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 29, 2015

Stat rankings show improvement for the Vols despite the losses

Comparing year to year, Tennessee appears to be improving. Now to tackle that Stat That Matters Most. The Top 30 chart compares favorably to 2014, the Bottom 30 limits itself to one additional pimple, and the Big Fat Middle generally holds its form. All in this week's review of where the Tennessee Volunteers rank in all of the major statistical categories kept by the NCAA. What Tennessee is currently doing well A year ago, after the Vols had played four games (with two of them against Oklahoma and Georgia), Tennessee was in the Top 30 in a total of 10 of the official NCAA stats. This year,...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 29, 2015

SEC Power Rankings, Week 5: How far do the Vols fall?

Here's our ballot for the all-SEC power poll. Methodology note: My usual assistant Chris Pendley has been temporarily committed to a remote facility in the Rocky Mountains for his own protection this week. When he was discovered following the Florida game, he was madly diagramming plays and struggling with complicated math, whispering gibberish to himself, "Go for one up 12 in the fourth quarter... how does that make sense? ...must be a fault in my decision matrices... stretch play into the boundary... quarterback draw on third and long... the Templars must be involved..." However, I did...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 29, 2015

What's the cure for Tennessee's passing game? Arkansas.

The Vols may have struggled to throw the ball at times this year, but it's nothing compared to how Arkansas has struggled to stop it. Unlike the heartbreaking loss against Oklahoma, this time the Vols don't have to wait two weeks for a meaningful game to cleanse the palate.  And even more than the chance to put the 2015 season back on a successful path and set up a huge opportunity against Georgia, Saturday night should help Tennessee in the on-field area it has struggled with the most. The Vols are a Top 50 offense in four of the five factors at Football Study Hall.  Tennessee has...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 28, 2015

Butch Jones Press Conference Recap 9/28/15

The Vols' head coach met with media Monday after a crushing loss to Florida. Here's full audio from the press conference: And here's the high notes of what Coach Jones said: -Tennessee played well enough to win the football game. Again it came down to closing out games. Again, Tennessee came up one play short. Inches make the champion. -Many positives can be taken away from this game. After saying this, Butch named off a number of stats from the game: Tennessee was 7-16 on 3rd downs, had 250 rushing yards, and only had three 3-and-outs. Defense had 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. -No one...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 28, 2015

What Are Vol Players Really Thinking After Tough Losses?

A number of Tennessee players spoke to the press on Monday and gave the impression that their confidence has not been rattled by the way the season has unfolded this far, but that's a hard narrative to believe. When asked if his confidence in Tennessee's ability to close out games was hurt by Saturday's double-digit meltdown, Joshua Dobbs simply responded: "No, it doesn't." But how could this team's confidence not be shaken after a loss like that? Multiple times during his short press conference Dobbs stated that "we didn't get the outcome we wanted" and he talked often about the "game...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 28, 2015

SEC Updates: Overrated edition

Some of the teams pegged as SEC division contenders have proven otherwise to start the 2015 season. Through four games of the 2015 college football season, it's becoming clear which teams are living up to the hype placed on them before the season, which teams are surpassing expectations, and which teams were overrated at the beginning of the year. That's especially true in the SEC, the conference that has won or been in contention for the National Championship for the last decade. All the SEC teams who played non-conference teams took care of business, as No. 7 Georgia topped Southern 48-6,...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 28, 2015

Vols coaching staff has run out of excuses

Butch Jones and his staff need to take responsibility for their mistakes in big games. Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Butch Jones has attempted to rebuild the Vols' football program "brick by brick" for the last two-plus years, and Jones and his staff have been able to inject more talent into Tennessee's roster than they've seen in well over half a decade. Before the 2015 season, Tennessee fans, local media, and national media were buying in on the Vols, believing this year was the year the turnaround started for a moribund program. What's happened instead has been mind-blowing....
Rocky Top Talk Sep 27, 2015

"One Play Away" is a False Narrative

On Butch Jones, blown leads, making adjustments and coaching to win. A bit of historical perspective, which may help explain why these last two losses have registered beyond a 10 on the pain scale. In his 17 years on the sideline, Phillip Fulmer's Vols lost a game in which they led by two possessions six times: 1994 at Mississippi State:  led 21-7 third quarter, lost 24-21 1995 at Florida:  led 30-14 second quarter, lost 62-37 1999 at Arkansas:  led 24-14 third quarter, lost 28-24 2001 vs Georgia:  led 14-3 first quarter, lost 26-24 2001 SEC Championship vs LSU:  led 17-7 second...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 27, 2015

Duck and Cover: The Tennessee-Florida Football Experience

Instead of grabbing the game against Florida by the horns, Butch Jones and co. once again decided to hope the clock ran out before their opponents completed a comeback. Now we're staring at an eleven-year losing streak and the second game in four that got away. 1. This Tennessee team is good enough to get a two-touchdown lead on anyone. That much I feel confident in. Now, is this Tennessee team good enough to finish a game with a two-touchdown lead on anyone? They have the talent; what they don’t have is the mindset. 2. They in this case doesn’t refer to Joshua Dobbs, who threw the team...
Rocky Top Talk Sep 26, 2015

FULL STOP: Negavol thread

That was horrible, wasn't it? I don't know what you can say about that, except that it was horribly unlucky, and horrible, and yeah. The players clearly played their hearts out, but some things can't be managed, or discussed, or coached. Look, I don't know what this means-- Tennessee was the better team tonight and lost, so... sometimes that happens. But usually not against horrible rebuilding teams coached by Jim Duggar look-a-likes. Butch should be ashamed. Not because he failed to live up to my expectations, but because he failed to give anyone a chance at a real outcome.

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