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Rocky Top Talk Aug 27, 2014

Tennessee's Questions vs. Chuckie Keeton

In which we try and figure out if Chuckie Keeton can win a game by himself. Growing up on college football from more than, oh, three years ago, it's still strange to think that Utah State is a good team. They were historically awful, clearly the third wheel of the Utah Triumvirate of Hate behind the BYU-Utah rivalry. Since 2010, on the other hand, they've steadily gotten better. Their recipe: at least one excellent class, great defense, and a game-breaking quarterback in internet darling Chuckie Keeton. It's worked well for them, even if it's only staked them to a 1-4 record against their...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 26, 2014

Monitoring Tennessee Football's improvement, then and now

Where and how much better was Butch Jones' first team compared to Derek Dooley's last? And where and how much improvement can we expect in 2014? As many of you know, we've been tracking Tennessee's movement in all of the statistics that the NCAA officially keeps. When we started doing it back in 2010, we called it simply "Monitoring Tennessee's Improvement." In 2011, we re-branded it #OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE, but the appeal of that phrase has gone the way of the orange pants. So last year, we just called it "Statistical Rankings." Whatever. It's a record of the Vols' movement in each of the...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 25, 2014

Mercedes Russell Redshirts, Raises Lady Vols Questions

Post players and foot injuries: two tastes that taste terrible together, because seriously foot injuries are pretty much the worst. So remember that 2014-15 Lady Vol preview? The one where we talked about how insanely deep the post game was this year? It's not all sunshine and roses any more, as Mercedes Russell underwent surgery on her right foot and is now a likely redshirt. From the GVX piece: "Mercedes has a history of orthopaedic problems with her feet that our sports medicine staff is working to correct," Warlick said in a school release. "Redshirting this season will allow her the...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 25, 2014

Mailbag Monday: What We Know Heading Into Week 1

Welcome to our new Monday feature, the mailbag. Every weekend, we'll be soliciting your questions from the Saturday games: injuries, coaching decisions, bad drinking decisions, etc. This week, we're answering your burning off-season questions as we count down the days until football time in Tennessee. Q: What will the depth chart look like for week one? --Joel, Kingsport Here is the projected depth chart for the starting offense against Utah State: There are two interesting developments: first, the return of Pig Howard and an unexpectedly strong showing from sophomore Josh Smith have...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 25, 2014

Jones talking about talking about football

Jones talks about talking about the Power T and its Power, Mack Crowder leads the o-line, and Phillip Fulmer talks reasonably and not-so-reasonably about the 2014 UT football season. This and more in today's Talking Points. Happy Game Week, y'all. If we know anything about Butch Jones, we know that he loves to talk about things he talks about. The latest thing he talks about talking about is the Power T. And I would say what he said he said, but frankly, I'm confused, so I'll just fall back on the quote: "It is priorities, live it, love it, or like it," Jones said Friday," which we speak...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 25, 2014

Tennessee vs Utah State: All Eyes on Justin Worley

The season opener features a returning quarterback on the other sideline and plenty of new faces in orange, but much of the attention will once again fall on Tennessee's upperclassman quarterback. The most famous quarterback on Sunday night is Chuckie Keeton, returning from the knee injury that cost him the back nine in 2013.  Before going down against BYU on October 4 Keeton completed 69.4% of his passes, which would've been good enough for fourth in the nation (behind Teddy Bridgewater, Shane Carden of ECU, and Johnny Manziel working against his own narrative) if he held that percentage....
Rocky Top Talk Aug 22, 2014
Tennessee vs Utah State: Game Week Eve

Tennessee vs Utah State: Game Week Eve

Get ready. The official countdown moves to single digits today, but for me the real number is three, not nine.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are all that stand between the long and rambling off-season and the familiar rhythms of game week, feeling like home.  And not home after the wind and rain of multiple losses have beat against the windows and threaten to take down the door.  But home, clean like new and renovated with new additions you're telling all your friends about. One weekend, and then it's Monday and there's an opponent.  This year provides the extra day's grace with a...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 21, 2014

Butch Jones, the Vols, and the Difference Culture Makes

If Butch Jones has changed the culture, what will that mean on the field? Throughout last season--especially in the miserable stretch from late October through mid-November--Butch Jones kept harping on how he needed to change the culture at Tennessee. This is not surprising. After all, when's the last time you saw a coach take over an unsuccessful team without harping on changing the culture? It's one of the standard new coach talking points. But standard talking points often have some basis in reality, and this particular point in this particular case has more reality than most [insert...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 20, 2014

The "This is one deep crater" game goes bowling

Today's Talking Points: This year's bowl game wll be the first for any player on the current Vols squad. Butch said it. We believe it, delusion or not. We've been playing this game among ourselves as Vols fans for awhile now, competing to see how many different ways we can make ourselves say, "Oh, wow. This is one deep crater." Winner of the day is the insight from GVX that not one single player on this team has EVER played in a bowl game: There are six fifth-year seniors who were on the roster on the 2010 team that lost to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl, but all of them...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 20, 2014
The Idiot Optimist's Guide to the 2014 Season

The Idiot Optimist's Guide to the 2014 Season

The annual serious preview for the serious fan. Seriously. Do you think it's possible Butch Jones and Jon Gruden are the same person? I'm telling you, there's something going on here.  Because "Butch Jones" is recruiting at a level that a guy from Cincinnati and Central Michigan has no business reaching in just one year.  My sister's boy Matthew taught me how to do something called a Google Image search?  There's no photographic evidence Butch Jones and Jon Gruden have ever been in the same place at the same time. Gruden was conveniently on campus earlier this summer, even got a...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 19, 2014

5 terrible ideas better than Finebaum on the SEC Network for 4 hours per day

Because it hasn't even been a week, and I've had enough. I was talking to one of our many Vols fan customers in the store the other day, and the conversation turned to the brand new SEC Network. We were both pretty high on the network's debut. As we talked, Alabama was crushing Notre Dame for the national championship on both big screens, and it dawned on me that there must really be a healthy amount of conference pride at play when two Vols fans were happy to see Alabama on TV. But it's been several days now, and it's beginning to seem that every time I direct my focus to the screen, Paul...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 18, 2014

2014: A Football Odyssey

With the release of the AP preseason top 25, we can see how difficult a group of sportswriters think the schedule is for this year's Vols team. If you're anything like me, you've spent most of the summer consuming every tidbit of training and recruiting information about Butch Jones' second Tennessee football team. From the excitement of midnight practices to the commitment of a five star legacy at a position of need, Jones has done a fantastic job of putting out positive articles about the Vols while avoiding the pitfalls of conference rivals Georgia (arrests and suspensions) and...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 14, 2014

Vols Name Justin Worley Starting Quarterback

The wait is over--Tennessee fans know who will lead the offense to start the season against Utah State: senior QB Justin Worley. The debate about who would win the starting quarterback job in 2015 really started in February of 2013--as soon as Butch Jones' first recruiting class was inked. For most of last season, Joshua Dobbs was the favorite. But after a horrendous performance against Vanderbilt, the tide of public opinion started shifting to Riley Ferguson, the only quarterback on the roster that no one had seen in live action. But Ferguson left the program over the summer, and the...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 14, 2014

Anonymous Confessions of a Lunatic Fan

Presenting a list of demands for the Tennessee Football Program. It's not for me, you understand. It's for my lunatic friend. I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to this season. Fall camp always brings with it new questions and hope that they'll be answered with happy exclamation marks. How much will the wave of talent that began to arrive last year improve with a year of experience? Just how talented is the new group of guys? What will the guys who've been here for years do with some real help and another year in the system under their belts? How much will the Year Two...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 12, 2014
Tennessee Football Depth Chart Projections: What We Think We Know

Tennessee Football Depth Chart Projections: What We Think We Know

We're getting close to an idea of what the Vols will look like in just 19 days. Through one week and one scrimmage of fall camp, you can get a sense of Tennessee's personnel beginning to take shape.  Although Butch Jones doesn't appear to be a big fan of official depth charts and has adopted a silent stance on injuries this fall, between the lines it sounds like the Vols now have a pretty good idea who will be in the mix when Utah State comes calling on August 31. In our attempt to make a mock depth-chart, there are several and/ors in here.  With a team so unproven that's unavoidable; so...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 11, 2014

Tennessee Fall Scrimmage: Blind Reactions, Blind Faith

We didn't see it, but you didn't either! Butch Jones locked it down over the weekend as the Vols held their first full scrimmage of fall camp.  The Vols didn't even release stats from the evening, meaning we're all left to pull whatever we'd like from post-scrimmage quotes from the head coach and a handful of players. But as this is already the time of year when we all take quotes and message board rumors and buy-in to a handful of unproven Vols before the season starts, we proudly present the 2014 Fall Camp Power Rankings: 1. Derek Barnett Best individual tweet of fall camp: #Vols Fr DE...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 11, 2014

Busting Loose: 2014 SEC Running Back Rankings

No matter where we ranked your team, they still suck. A Note From the Authors, In Which They Argue For the last few weeks, we've placed a note on our methodology for these rankings1 at the top of the page, but apparently some number of casual readers can't distinguish between the rankings that we make (a serious endeavor striving for accuracy) and the comments that we append to said rankings (a humorous compilation of dumb jokes, pop culture references, hit-or-miss puns, and general attempts to mock and disparage all our SEC compatriots). So this week, to dispel any misconceptions, we've...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 8, 2014

The Official 2014 Vols Football Fan Shirt: Butch and One Tennessee

Butch. One Tennessee. Smokey Gray. What's not to like? Everybody has their role to play and their uniform to wear. The players have their jerseys and cleats and helmets and pads and we'll just stop there because, well, you know. But I digress. Fans have their uniform, too, and it's the Official 2014 Tennessee Football t-shirt. Last year, it was Rise to the Top, and for 2014 and Team 118, the theme is "One Tennessee" on the back and simply "BUTCH" on the front, all on that sweet Smokey Gray. Designed locally by Larry Fields and printed locally by Bacon & Company, it's truly all One...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 8, 2014

Bamboo, Bricks, and 2016

From Derek Dooley to Butch Jones to the future, Tennessee Football is in the middle of a massive overhaul with rewards both now and later. There was a great story on VolQuest this week about the Vols' dramatic roster overhaul (free read).  A quote from receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Azzanni closed the piece: Coach Jones spends an inordinate amount of time staring at that recruiting board and our team. Piecing puzzles here, using scholarships there, being creative. This guy graduating early, this guy's a grayshirt, he's a fifth-year guy," said Azzanni, who's spurned...
Rocky Top Talk Aug 5, 2014
2014 Orlando Classic Bracket: Tennessee Will Face Santa Clara With Kansas on the Horizon

2014 Orlando Classic Bracket: Tennessee Will Face Santa Clara With Kansas on the Horizon

Tennessee joins a loaded field in Orlando over Thanksgiving Weekend. The bracket was released today for the 2014 Orlando Classic (formerly the Old Spice Classic), and it's a pretty fair shake for Donnie Tyndall's Vols.  Tennessee will face Santa Clara in the tournament's opening game at noon on Thanksgiving Day.  The Vols are on the same side of the bracket as Kansas, who will face Rhode Island in their opening matchup. If you're going to play in these things, you might as well see as many of the heavy hitters as possible.  I was worried about Tennessee getting Marquette or Georgia Tech...