Tennessee fan here -- Breakdown of the Vols

sherepower

Athletic Director
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Apr 3, 2008
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Tennessee is good and could easily win, but I don’t believe for a second that they are better. We beat them at Tennessee after spotting them a 10-0 lead and have most of our 2 deep coming back on both sides of the ball.

Hooker is a guy that we are very familiar with and we have beat him 2 years on a row. I know that he did not start last year, but that was to Tennessee’s advantage because we did not scout for him. However, we usually contain him quite well and force him to pass into tight windows while getting good pressure on him.

we also won time of possession last year by 36 to 24 minutes and that was with a heavy passing attack. This year we will be more ball control and that will likely add to our advantage.

The game very likely could go either way, but in no way would I say Tennessee is the better of the 2.
We’ll said! Tennessee fans keep saying how they are going to beat us down this year. Because they feel they should of beat us last year.

Bottom line ……..if they don’t block a punt deep in our end of the field ( 2 yard line). Then a bad snap and a bad punt again deep on our side of the field. We win a lot easier than we did. Those bad plays put us in a hole to start the game 10-0.

As far a Hooker coming in. We prepared for Gilbert. Not Hooker who is a much better runner with the ball. If Hooker was named the starter. Narduzzi would of had the defense prepared for Hooker’s ability to run the ball. Which his legs hurt us more than his arm.

Narduzzi has beaten Heupel Two years in a row.

If Pitt wins look out. If Tennessee wins look out. Both teams have the potential to have a special season. Good luck
 
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joeydavid

Athletic Director
Feb 5, 2003
16,444
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Right now on paper it seems that the best team on our schedule is Miami. I fully expect Pitt to have a loss by that game, but it won’t be against Tennessee.

I kind of expect Miami to have 2 ACC losses before playing Pitt. If Pitt takes care of their end- the Miami game won't mean much other than national ranking.

Not much has changed. We had the ability to run last year too, but chose to pass. This year will be more balanced. We have our entire starting OL and back up OL in-tact. We have 8 OL giys who started last year and all of our top RB’s back. The only time we chose to run was to run clock at the end of games and we did very well doing just that against Tenn, GT, VT and Clemson.

in total, we have 34 of our 44, 2 deep back from last year. This is by far our deepest team since the early 80’s.

Not to mention all of the transfers with starts on their resume as well.
 

Papillion

Walk-on
May 29, 2001
136
49
28
If ever there was a time that WVU was going to pack our stadium was when we had a down year and they had an organized movement to pack our stadium…and they brought around 7500 fans. Might have been when we were 6-4 and WVU was fighting for a big east championship. I hate even mentioning their bravado.
Oh come on, you can do it. just jump in and hang on: "Well come on all of you big strong men, Uncle Duzsam needs your help again, he got himself in a terrible jam, way down yonder in Morgannam. Put down your books and pick up a pom pom, we're gunna have a whole lotta fun.

"And it's one, two, three, what are we fightin for? I don't give a damn, next stop is WVUdamn, and its 5,6,7 open up the Acrisure gates. Well there aint no time to wonder why...WHOPEE we're all gunna lose.
Now come on wall street don't be slow, why man this's game's a-go-go,
there's plenty good money to be made, supplyin' the team with the tools of the trade,
just hope and pray that when they drop the bomb, they drop it on the Mountaineer throng.

Now come on coaches lets move fast, your big chance is here at last.
nite you go out and get those reds cuz the only good Eer is one thats dead,
you know that peace can only be won, when you blow em all to kingdom come.

Now come on Panthers throughout the land, pack your boys off to Morganland,
come on fathers don't hesitate, send your sons off before its too late, 2011 was too long ago so
be the first one on your block, to have your team romp in the Burg.
 

TheSpecialSauce

Head Coach
Gold Member
Nov 15, 2019
12,660
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It would be fun to turn this into a fairly regular non conference matchup. It already has a name - The Johnny Major Classic.
 

Bethlehemjohn

Athletic Director
Gold Member
Jul 6, 2001
16,316
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I think we are all just used to it at this point of Narduzzis tenure, but our pass defense was once again towards the bottom of the FBS last year. Pickett more than covered for that, but it is a major concern, especially against an offense like Tennessee.
We were once again toward the bottom for a few reasons:
1. We were ahead by a huge amount in many games and teams picked up a lot of late passing yardage due to that.
2. We play a risk/reward defense they will give up big plays, but will also make many big plays.
3. We have been very good against the run, so teams need to pass.

for as much as people want to continuously bash our D, and specifically our pass D, we are still one of the better defenses in the country.
 

NCPitt

Lair Hall of Famer
Gold Member
Mar 12, 2009
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Run game for Pitt wasnt great last season.

I keep hearing Narduzzi wants to lean on the run this year.

What has changed up front and at RB?
The big change was at offensive coordinator. Whipple couldn't care less about running with Pickett at QB. Cignetti wants more balance and will emphasize that in preparations. He had a good running game at BC.
 

rmf05

Junior
Sep 5, 2017
3,587
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But Hooker isn't improving in a vacuum. Pitt's D under Narduzzi always improves in pass coverage as the year goes on too. See how that goes? We can go back and forth all day on those types of comments. Hooker played well and has obviously come a long way since us Pitt fans first saw him at VT. If he plays well, your Vols have a great chance at winning this season at Hei.. Acrisure.
Yeah, folks forget that the Tennessee game was still part of the dreadful Rashad Battle FS experiment that ended in disgrace the next week when he singlehandedly cost us the Western Michigan game. We actually played pretty well when we cleaned up our personnel a bit until some amazing QB play hurt us later on. Our dbs always give up a few but expecting another horrible performance like last year's game is unlikely.
 
Dec 20, 2018
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That INT Hooker threw doesn’t happen it the game were a few weeks later… He only threw 3 all year long. Really settled in and got better as the year went on.
Hooker improved throughout last season. He scares me a bit because I can see a bit of a parallel to Pickett last year. He’s always had some talent but he’s an older experienced QB that isn’t going to force plays or rattle as easily. His ability to run could be a problem for Pitt too.
 
Dec 20, 2018
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Yeah, folks forget that the Tennessee game was still part of the dreadful Rashad Battle FS experiment that ended in disgrace the next week when he singlehandedly cost us the Western Michigan game. We actually played pretty well when we cleaned up our personnel a bit until some amazing QB play hurt us later on. Our dbs always give up a few but expecting another horrible performance like last year's game is unlikely.

Battle? If I recall it was Hallet that was benched during the WMU game.
 

USN_Panther

Heisman Candidate
Gold Member
Jul 7, 2001
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The Tennessee Volunteers last ventured into Pennsylvania as heavy favourites back in 1863. The confident group was led by Coach Bob Lee, with an offensive coordinator in Coach Pickett who was unsure if the ground game could get going. The early part of the game was back and forth. Coach Meade's Pennsylvanians put up a stout defense.

Pickett mounted one final desperate 4th quarter drive mostly on the ground. Meade's defense teed off on them and just kept blasting away.

At the final gun, Meade's troops had a decisive 21-10 win. Lee took his team back across the Mason-Dixon Line and his team really fell apart for the rest of the season. From that day on, the SEC teams just don't venture back up to the site of that historic defeat.
 

The Ole Six-Fiver

Sophomore
Mar 3, 2022
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The Tennessee Volunteers last ventured into Pennsylvania as heavy favourites back in 1863. The confident group was led by Coach Bob Lee, with an offensive coordinator in Coach Pickett who was unsure if the ground game could get going. The early part of the game was back and forth. Coach Meade's Pennsylvanians put up a stout defense.

Pickett mounted one final desperate 4th quarter drive mostly on the ground. Meade's defense teed off on them and just kept blasting away.

At the final gun, Meade's troops had a decisive 21-10 win. Lee took his team back across the Mason-Dixon Line and his team really fell apart for the rest of the season. From that day on, the SEC teams just don't venture back up to the site of that historic defeat.
That’s outstanding!
Note to WV trolls on here, Tennessee and the rest of the south mock your faux-rebel act. You tried to have it both ways back then; you hated the North and still do, but weaseled out of the fight.
 

snaphook297

Redshirt
Dec 19, 2020
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Pittsburgh
I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
This guy lost me with his praise of Joe Milton . It’s simple Milton flat out stinks.
 

anon_d97v9o3a8b6xr

Board of Trustee
Aug 3, 2010
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This guy lost me with his praise of Joe Milton . It’s simple Milton flat out stinks.
You know Milton couldn’t hold the football. He had a major thumb issue that needed repair. Dude couldn’t grip the ball and ended up throwing poor balls because of it.
 

Dointhatrag

Freshman
Sep 3, 2017
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When is the last time Tennessee won a game in the north? I see the last time they even played in the north was a 2005 loss to Notre Dame.

You could say Missouri might count but when was their last win in the north?

Also of reference 0-3 all time versus Pitt.
1980: 30-6 Pitt (in Knoxville)
1983: 13-3 Pitt (in Knoxville)
2021: 41-34 Pitt (in Knoxville)
 
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redbyrds

All Conference
Gold Member
Feb 2, 2005
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Run game for Pitt wasnt great last season.

I keep hearing Narduzzi wants to lean on the run this year.

What has changed up front and at RB?
All OL are back and all RB are back, along with new OC who tends to be 50 50 run pass where last year OC was pass 1st.
 
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Oct 25, 2021
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When is the last time Tennessee won a game in the north? I see the last time they even played in the north was a 2005 loss to Notre Dame.

You could say Missouri might count but when was their last win in the north?

Also of refence 0-3 all time versus Pitt.
1980: 30-6 Pitt (in Knoxville)
1983: 13-3 Pitt (in Knoxville)
2021: 41-34 Pitt (in Knoxville)

Well we hadn't beat a non-conference P5 opponent on the road in 20 years before the game in Knoxville last year, so let's hope this isn't the second year in a row that a streak is ended.
 

thebadby2

Athletic Director
Sep 21, 2003
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We got 11 sacks in the last two contests against Heupel's teams. Should be at least some opportunity to apply pressure to Hooker. I'd like to see some tweaks so that guys aren't getting free releases and blowing past I think we are all just used to it at this point of Narduzzis tenure, but our pass defense was once again towards the bottom of the FBS last year. Pickett more than covered for that, but it is a major concern, especially against an offense like Tennessee.
We will need to score a lot against them. Just like last year.
You know Milton couldn’t hold the football. He had a major thumb issue that needed repair. Dude couldn’t grip the ball and ended up throwing poor balls because of it.
Milton's accuracy and touch problems were well publicized at Michigan before he hurt that thumb. And he had the surgery before he got to Tennessee. He was healthy last year and ended up on the bench. Everyone loves the big strong build and the cannon arm. Problem is the position requires a lot more than that.
 

Pitt_Boss

Freshman
Dec 15, 2008
1,090
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As expected from an SEC school, Tenn had a lot of size, speed, and athleticism. Seeing it in person, I could tell the difference between them & most other schools we play. They had a lot of players that 'looked the part'. This talent base and Heupel's offensive game planning are reason for concern.

However, what I also saw last year was a very undisciplined TENN team. They had some fairly obvious blown assignments and guys free lancing and don't forget they had some costly penalties at key moments, like the personal fouls for slamming guys to the ground and the one OL that took a very late cheap shot. With due credit given to Heupel's offensive scheme, I think overall top-to-bottom Pitt was a much more prepared and ready football team...that beats individual talents most times.
 

Saboteur II

Junior
Gold Member
Sep 21, 2020
3,151
3,728
113
I'm sure y'all are focused on WVU, as you should be. But since we open with Ball St, the fan base has all eyes on Pitt.

I wanted to give you a position breakdown of Tennessee to spark some discussion about this match up and learn more about Pitt.

QB:
QB1 is Hendon Hooker (6'4 218). We all love Hendon. He got better as the year went on. 31 TD to just 3 INT. All reports this off season have been that he's exactly what you want in a returning starting QB. We're also pleased with our depth at the position with veteran Joe Milton. He started the Pitt game last season and had some infamous (by Tennessee's recollection) over throws. But good reports from him this off season as well. The the transfer portal era having a talented and experienced back up is a luxury we're happy to have.

RB:
This room is solid but no great players in it. Jabari Small (5'11 213) will get the most touches early in the season. He's just a steady-eddy type back. Behind him I expect freshman Dylan Sampson (5'11 190) to get the next snaps. He's a speedster clocking 10.48 in the 100m in HS and has some natural RB skills. Jaylen Wright, sophomore, has changed his body and looks like a million bucks but has been bothered by quad this preseason. There is also 4* freshman Justin Williams Thomas and Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon in the room.

WR:
This room is led by former 2* Cedric Tillman (6'3 215). Tillman had 1,000 yard season in 2021. He played his best against the best, putting up big numbers against UGA and Bama. Behind him there's a lot of potential but no one proven. The names you'll likely see are 5* journeyman Bru McCoy (6'3 220) and Jalin Hyatt in the slot. Hyatt can really go but isn't a stop and start jitterbug type. This offense doesn't struggle to get guys open but finding complementing pieces to go with Tillman will be important for sure. Walker Merrill seems to be the 4th man up right now. He's a 6' 200 sophomore.

TE:
Veterans lead the way here. Jacob Warren (6'6 250) and Princeton Fant (6'2 235) compliment one another well. They both are solid blockers and good pass catchers too. Like RB, good room but not great.

OL:
Return 4/5 starters. Darnell Wright (6'6 335) has some first round potential and has moved from LT to RT. Finding a LT will be key and we have 2 guys battling there. Interior depth is better than tackle, but thats the case everywhere for the most part. Cooper Mays, the center, is the most important player. The offenses tempo is better when he's playing and he's had injury issues in his career.

BIG TAKEAWAYS ON OFFENSE
Heupel and company know how to get guys open and score. Tennessee fans aren't terribly worried about much on offense because of the track record there, but RB depth and LT are the biggest concerns. Early in the season I worry about finding the right group of receivers. We have tons of potential in that room but Pitt could certainly beat us if we're trying to figure that out in week 2.

LEO:
Byron Young (6'3 245) should have a breakout year. He was unbelievable raw last year and an off season has done him wonders. The physical tools are there for sure. After him, the room gets a lot more pedestrian by SEC standards. Roman Harrison (6'2 244) is likely your #2 here early in the year. He's a bit too stiff to be a big time play maker but he understands leverage and has a good motor. After that, it is likely some talented freshman getting time in obvious pass rush situations.

IDL:
A lot of guys here. Omari Thomas (6'4 320) is the most talented and the most proven. After that, it's a mixed bag of solid veterans and young-ish guys who have potential. Our DL coach has stated we could play as many as 10 guys across the DL. It's simply a situation where outside of a few guys, there's just not a lot of seperation. Not saying this group is bad, just not a lot of big-timers by SEC standards.

DE:
Tyler Baron (6'5 260) has all the potential in the world if he can stay healthy. After that you're looking at veteran Latrell Bumphus (6'3 290) and short-on-experience Dom Bailey (6'3 270).

LB:
This group was bad last season and the thought is that it will be much better this season. Jeremy Banks (6'1 224) is the best in the group. He's got NFL potential. Good size. Big time athlete. Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell (6'1 235) looks the part and after a frustrating 2021, where he wasn't all that bought in, he's healthy and ready to play. After these two we've got a couple of salty ole veterans who arent great but they're solid with Aaron Beasley and Solon Page.

CB and N:
I won't waste your time rattling off guys here because as of today, no one knows. Theres probably 4 or 5 guys who could start at CB and 2 at Nickel. That might sound like a bad thing but for Tennessee fans and coaches, we are thankful to have quality bodies to choose from and compete with one another.

S:
All about the veterans here. Much like LB, a group that wasn't great a year ago... Sometimes not very good. But these guys have seen a ton of ball and don't make mistakes. When they get beat its because they lost a physical battle. I could see some younger, more talented guys taking someone's job later in the year, but not for the Pitt game. Starters will be seniors Trevon Flowers (5'11 200) and Jaylen McCullough (6' 205).

BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS ON DEFENSE
We simply have more depth than a year ago. That is the big positive. The negative is, I am not sure how many difference makers we have on this side of the ball. Those guys that make those handful of plays that are the difference in the game.
Kicking? We hit big field goals last year in Knoxville. Our venue is where kickers go to die.
 

thebadby2

Athletic Director
Sep 21, 2003
17,260
7,700
113
As expected from an SEC school, Tenn had a lot of size, speed, and athleticism. Seeing it in person, I could tell the difference between them & most other schools we play. They had a lot of players that 'looked the part'. This talent base and Heupel's offensive game planning are reason for concern.

However, what I also saw last year was a very undisciplined TENN team. They had some fairly obvious blown assignments and guys free lancing and don't forget they had some costly penalties at key moments, like the personal fouls for slamming guys to the ground and the one OL that took a very late cheap shot. With due credit given to Heupel's offensive scheme, I think overall top-to-bottom Pitt was a much more prepared and ready football team...that beats individual talents most times.
Last year was Heupel's second game at Tenn. They will be sharper this year.