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Insider Mailing: Season is Almost Here Edition

Aaron Medley-1-2

What’s the longest field goal Aaron Medley has made in camp?  – Matt Harrell

Daniel: We’ve seen him hit from 50. I asked him what is range is and he said up to 55. We’ve seen a few that would’ve been good from a touch beyond that. I think he has a better leg than George Bullock, but Bullock probably holds a slight edge in the kicking contest at this point due to overall consistency.

Is LaDarrell McNeil alive? – Tom Jarvis

Daniel: He is, I can confirm. He clearly lost his starting job to Devaun Swafford for now, and it looks like Todd Kelly Jr. might be the third safety at this point. It seems to come down to a speed issue primarily. McNeil just doesn’t have the overall range they need at that spot. I wondered if they might try to grow him into an outside linebacker, but haven’t heard any rumblings about that yet.

Houston: He is, sort of. He’s the currently taking reps as the second string strong safety, buuuuuuuuut I’m not sure how much longer that will last. Todd Kelly Jr. and Cortez McDowell are coming on strong. I’m a little surprised that they haven’t given him a look at nickel linebacker yet, that seems like an ideal place for him. Expect him to be on nearly every special teams unit and have a big impact there.

Is Butch holding plays and thoughts close to vest? Are we better than advertised? – @BigOrangeButch

Reed: He’s definitely not showing many creative formations in practice, but I suspect you’ll see several new looks on both sides of the ball early this season. Jones opened fall camp extremely frustrated with his quarterback play and the overall consistency of his football team. They improved last week, so that’s certainly a good sign, but they’re nowhere near where he wants them to be. Stopping the run up the gut is the weakest area on the team right now, followed closely by the play of their offensive tackles. They need drastic improvement in those areas to go bowling.

Houston: BOB, I know you want me to say yes and yes, but I just don’t think that’s the case. This team lacks consistency in a lot of areas on both sides of the ball, which isn’t usually a recipe for success…especially when facing the second toughest schedule in the country.

I think this team can win six with an outside shot at seven if they can catch the breaks that eluded them last year. They could also do worse than last year if they hit some bad luck.

John: Yes. We’re gonna go 10 and 2.

What’s the best way to forget this season…. Bourbon, whiskey, or grain alcohol? – Gabe Froula

Reed: Why not all three? That’d do the trick. If you’ve got to go with one poison, the easiest way to forget the season would be the moonshine route. The first time I ever tasted shine, a wise man named Dick Cole, who is a legend for many, many reasons, told me, “Son. Be careful with this. It’ll grab you and take you prisoner and never let go.” Keep that in mind if you opt for white lightning.

Houston: While tailgating before each game, drink a whisky and coke followed by two beers. Finish that off with a quarter jar of moonshine while seated, then stand up and walk to the game. Odds are you won’t make it to the game, and if you do I promise that you won’t remember anything. I know from experience. A guy I know had this happen to him.

John: I recommend bourbon, Knob Creek specifically. But when telling people why you’re so hammered, please refrain from using the phrase “I’ve been on the Knob.” Let’s just say I’ve heard it uttered before and it just didn’t sound right.

Now that camp is over, can you please provide a comprehensive list of injured players and status? – Phillip Bell

Daniel: Butch went somewhat hush-hush about injuries this camp, so we don’t have any kind of official list. But here’s what we know based on the few things Butch did say or our observations of practice: WR Cody Blanc and DT Charles Mosley are out for the season. DT Trevarris Saulsberry (knee) is pretty much day-to-day. He’s definitely not ruled out for Utah State, but we’ll have to keep an eye on that one. Curt Maggitt (ankle) hasn’t practiced in nearly two weeks, though he’s been running and doing agility work on the side. It would be surprising if he doesn’t play in the opener. WR Vic Wharton and TE Woody Quinn haven’t been practicing for the last little bit with undisclosed injuries. Their status is unknown. WR Johnathon Johnson missed the last few practices and has had a boot on his foot. RB Derrell Scott and S Geraldo Orta were the only players wearing green, non-contact jerseys in the last open practice.

How embarrassing is “3rd Down for What?” gonna be? Because right now I feel terrible about it. – Tyler Pellom

Daniel:  It all depends how well it works. UT fans would be wearing shirts with bamboo on them if Derek Dooley had worked out, but that became a punchline because of his failure. I think people will be pretty frustrated with it if the Vols face four third downs in a drive and can’t get off the field. But if it gets the crowd louder and they get a stop, it’s brilliant, at least for that moment.

Houston: Yea, I think that this was a great idea on paper and may be fine for a game or two, but it’s going to get old quick. They should have come up with three different songs…Mixed it up a bit.

Who should I start at QB for fantasy fb? Jake locker or RG3? – @bhamorange

Reed: Whenever I have a fantasy football question, I approach Nate Hodges. If you’re not following him on Twitter or checking out, you’re really missing out. His fantasy projections are fantastic and easily digestible and his QB projections say to start RGIII over Locker.

Why haven’t we heard much about Owen Williams, yet he got his stripe off? – Teresa

Daniel: That’s a good question – something I’d thought about myself. You hadn’t heard much about him earlier in camp because he literally wasn’t seeing the field in any part of some of the open practices. He seems to have come on lately, however. You can pencil him in as a second-team defensive tackle at this point and he even saw some work with the starters during the open practice.

Houston: My guess is that with Trevarris Saulsberry getting injured last week, the coaches were looking to motivate one of the new guys to step up and fill his void. Remember that Williams is a transfer from Butler Community College in Kansas, so he is older and more physically prepared than the freshmen. We haven’t gotten to see much live work and the defensive line practices as far away from our viewing area as possible, so we haven’t seen Williams do much.

So JCO does the Bama gear have it’s own special place in the house away from everything else? – Michael Edwards

John: Yes. I believe they refer to it as a garbage can. But in all seriousness, I was contemplating that the other day when I was putting up that clown’s uni. I’d selected a spot that was top secret, but woke in the middle of the night to a startling revelation. It was too close to the TV. Might it send off bad juju, thus effecting, say, an away UT game viewed on that very television? Couldn’t take a chance so I had to relocate. And I found a sheltered spot that, technically, is outside the parameters of my house. I’m feeling a lot better about it.

What is the actual name of the orange UT uses? – Phil Brickma

Houston: UT ORANGE: PMS 151/ CMYK 0 50 100 0/ HEX F77F00   Or…As I like to call it: Big Mother F’n Orange.

How do you feel about our Tackles on both sides of the ball and where do you see our record at the end of the year? – @CGShaw114

Daniel: For me, the tackles are a concern on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Jacob Gilliam is a fantastic story, but there will always be concern about a former walk-on who isn’t really battled tested. Maybe he steps up to the challenge, but that’s not a given. Moving Kyler Kerbyson helps stabilize the right tackle spot a little bit. But even Butch Jones acknowledged that it might not be his most natural spot. Defensively, the lack of size is concerning. The projected duo of Danny O’Brien and Jordan Williams both come in right around 285 pounds. Dimarya Mixon and Owen Williams, likely the next two in, are 282 and 288 pounds respectively. And of that group, only O’Brien has ever played D-tackle at the SEC level before. We’ll have some content with our predications for this year running very soon, so I’ll hold off on giving a firm answer for that part for now.

Houston: I think they are going to be ‘ok’ on both as long as nobody else gets hurt. Along the offensive line I expect Dontavius Blair to crack the starting lineup at left tackle by midseason, overtaking Jacob Gilliam. Kyler Kerbyson looks solid at right tackle and Coleman Thomas provides some depth there also.

At defensive tackle, Jordan Williams and Danny O’Brien provide some stability on the interior but lack playmaking ability. Owen Williams recently had his stripe removed and Dimarya Mixon has had some solid moments this camp, so they could add some spark. Those players and freshman Michael Sawyers make up your entire depth chart at defensive tackle right now with Saulsberry injured, so they can’t afford anyone else getting hurt. My guess is that they’ll have to get creative with players like Derek Barnett, Dewayne Hendrix and Kendall Vickers on passing situations. I’d expect them to slide those players to tackle to provide a pass rush and give the other guys a breather.

Put me down for a loose 6-6.

JCO, is there a place where you have the lyrics to 10 and 2 printed?  @heels4corners

John: The answer is no. Well, aside from the random notebook where I initially wrote them in various stages of mild intoxication while vacationing at the beach. Before now, that is. Because upon receiving your question, I went ahead and wrote them out in post format. If you’d like to see them, click HERE.

In a battle of apex predators who do you have winning this final 4? Great White Shark, Grizzly Bear, Crocodile, AJ Johnson? – @HippieH8er

Reed: I’m definitely going A.J. Johnson because he has opposable thumbs and can thus operate the firearms needs to demolish the rest of the group.

Daniel: It would depend on the battle arena. The shark would win in the water, the bear would win on land and A.J. Johnson would win if the battle includes tackling an opponent past the line of scrimmage.

If you could adopt the talent of any musician/entertainer who would it be? – Blake Hatfield

John: Wiz Kalifa. Because I’m a gangsta. Plus I love sizzurp.

Houston: Maynard James Keenan. Incredible vocalist, songwriter, poet and actor.

Reed: I’m surprised Houston didn’t go with Taylor Swift. There are tons of options for me here. Frank Sinatra, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Buddy Guy and Neil Young all came to mind…but I’d have to go with Jimi Hendrix (without the illicit drug use, of course). He wasn’t much of a singer, but few people have ever mastered anything like Hendrix mastered, and revolutionized, the electric guitar. I got my first guitar in middle school because I wanted to learn to play Voodoo Chile like Hendrix did. He’s the Peyton Manning of guitarists. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, educate yourself.

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