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Insider Mailing: ‘Bama Week Edition


“Mosley projects to OL (next year). Robertson move is nice for OL (this year) but why does staff say no OL fix with ample DL depth?” – Gary Huntzinger

Daniel: Fair question. I’m just not sure who they flip over to the o-line at this point from the defensive line. You mentioned Charles Mosley for next year, which we’ll have to wait and see how they want to do that, but that’s a possibility. Jashon Robertson’s done a good job considering the circumstances. Maybe they think about a guy like Michael Sawyers at some point, but he really has more of a defensive lineman’s skill set and that’s where most of his experience lies. I think if there were two or three guys hanging around on the third or fourth string of the defensive line that would help them on offense, they would make the move, but I don’t think that’s the case.

The depth is going to be better at offensive line in a year or two. All five starters and several of the top reserves are back. It looks like Dontavius Blair and Ray Raulerson will be coming off of a redshirt season. They have at least four o-line committed currently (DE Dylan Jackson could project as an OT as well, we’ll see) and they’re looking to bring in at least one more. So it’s just going to take a little time to get that group back where it needs to be.

“Who is the “best” recruit of the Dooley era? Between AJ and CP for. CP more talented. AJ did more 4 UT.” – Caleb Chapman

Daniel: I agree with your assessment. Cordarrelle Patterson is far and away the most talented player Dooley brought in. How he landed him and how he didn’t win more games with him on the roster that year still befuddles me. But, yes, I think A.J. Johnson has done more for the program and he’s hit a new level this season. A few other honorable mentions: Cam Sutton (Dooley got the commitment, though he signed under Jones), Justin Hunter, Tiny Richardson and Zach Fulton. Ja’Wuan James was technically signed in Dooley’s first class, but he was already on campus as an early enrollee, so hard to give him much credit for him. It’s not that Dooley didn’t bring any talent to UT, it just wasn’t all properly developed, managed and then it trailed off as his tenure went on.

Houston: A.J. Johnson will go doen as one of the most productive linebackers in SEC history when his career is over, so he gets my vote. Unfortunately for him, he never got to play on a very good team and it took him until his senior year to be surrounded by enough talent on defense to really let his skill set shine. I think A.J. Johnson has improved every year he has been here, but he really took a jump this year – his second year under John Jancek and Tommy Thigpen – and appears to have set himself up for a hefty payday when the NFL draft rolls around.

Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the most electrifying players to every play the game, period. But he was a one-and-done player on a team that 5-7, so I don’t think we really got to see enough of him to say that he was the best player that Dooley ever signed. I think Michael Palardy should get some love here…no?…ok.

Reed: I think that all depends on how you define “best.” Patterson is the best pure athlete to come through Tennessee in a long, LONG time. He’s a once a decade type talent, so if you measure “best” that way, it’s easily Patterson. A.J. Johnson has definitely been under appreciated during his UT tenure. With over 400 tackles (and counting), he’s anchored the Vol defense since stepping on campus. As you mentioned, he definitely did more for Tennessee. I’d also throw Ja’Wuan James in that conversation. He was overshadowed by Tiny Richardson for much of his career, but started all 49 games of his college career and went on to be a 1st round draft pick. As Daniel mentioned, though, his status as a Dooley recruit is sketchy at best.

John: Bamboo McShower. No one ever saw how good he was since he was born in year zero and all.

“Do u think CBJ underestimates abilities of some our playmakers? He acts as if they aren’t calling good plays bc of personnel,” – Nathan Kimsey

Reed: There’s no doubt the Vol offense is struggling, but I wouldn’t say that means they’re not calling good plays. Every single game I’ve seen them dial up plays that should work given the defense’s formation only to see them fail due to a lack of execution. In other words, they’re making some very good calls based on the personnel of both teams, but they’re not going for big gains due to a lack of execution. Nothing works when your offensive line can’t block and your quarterback is inaccurate downfield and turns the ball over.Coach Jones knows they have playmakers at receiver, tight end and running back (at least in Hurd) – getting them the ball in space hasn’t been easy this time of year due mainly to a lack of execution.

We got multiple questions asking if we think there will be an incident involving Lane Kiffin…

Daniel: I don’t expect anything major. Though I’m hoping Alabama and UT have a tight security plan, because I don’t doubt that somebody in that stadium would try to throw something at him if presented the opportunity. I think the worst thing that happens is some pretty vile chants and perhaps some “creative” signs. I’m sure UT is anticipating all of that.

Houston: I really hope not. I’m sure that there will be plenty of chants and obscenities thrown his way over the course of four quarters, but hopefully that’s it. It wouldn’t completely stun me if something did happen, however. There is still a lot of hate and vitriol built up towards the man, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some idiot tried to make a name for himself by crossing the line. It would be an absolute embarrassment to the University of Tennessee, but some folks are good for occasional embarrassment.

Reed: For all the build up this week, I doubt anything dramatic happens other than an epic chorus of boos (and booze) and a few fantastic signs in the stadium. Though, I wouldn’t put it past some shine powered student to streak across the field in an effort to assault Kiffin.

John: Honestly? The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. So in a perfect world, people would just blow the clown off.

But (a) the world’s far from perfect and (b) this is not the place for psychological cliches you might expect to find inside a fortune cookie. It’s the place to be real. So, yeah, man, something’s gonna go down. But it’s not going to be some over-the-top event that Tosh.O can riff on next week. It’ll be an obscene chant or something like that.

“Huge fan of you guys. Love EVERYTHING You’re Doing. I’m going to my first Vols game this weekend versus bama. Also my first trip to Knoxville. Any helpful advice for a rookie like me?” – TJ Williams

Reed: First up, welcome TJ! Hope you have a great trip. I’d say definitely eat at Calhoun’s on the river and somewhere downtown around Market Square. There’s some great grub and it’s all relatively close to the stadium. If Tennessee wins, plan on celebrating into the wee hours of the morning at a local watering hole. If the Vols lose, plan on drowning your sorrows at the same places.

If you need recommendations hit me up with a tweet. I’m not sure how long you’re planning on staying but a quick drive up to the foothills parkway (about 30 minutes outside of town) would be worth it. The leaves are changing and there are some great overlooks up there – the mountains surrounding Knoxville are some of the nation’s finest this time of year. As for the game, cheer loudly and bring a camera to document your time and the impending celebration if the Vols pull off the miracle win.

John: Yep. Reed’s bang on. Calhoun’s on the river and Market Square are both musts. The Vol Walk would be cool to take in as well, particularly if you’ve got young kids in tow. But more than anything else, promise to detach yourself from the game at least once, only for a moment, perhaps at a critical juncture, between plays, naturally, so you don’t miss anything. And in that moment, look around the stadium and take a moment to appreciate the spectacle that is SEC football. The pageantry that is the Alabama game.

Houston: I don’t really know where to start, but here it goes.

1: Get there early. The weather should be great, so prepare to spend the day outside and take in all the sights and sounds of Saturday.
2: Calhoun’s/Vol Navy – Even if you can’t get on a boat, go check out this are and take a walk along the river. It’s perfect.
3: G-10 tailgating – This is the huge parking garage across from the river, and you need to stop here. Someone will invite you to stay.
4: Vol Walk – This one should be packed, so get there early. It starts at the Torchbearer at 5:00 (I believe).
5: Band pre-game – Be in the stadium and seated by 6:50 so you don’t miss any of the band’s pre-game performance or the team running through the ‘T’.

6: (Most Important) Yell like mad and get on the field to tear down the goalposts after Tennessee pulls of the miracle upset.

“I know that we need him for next year but it’s time to burn Josh Dobbs’ redshirt! I know with him at the helm we would have beat Florida! I know Worley is a senior but he has been rattled a bit and now he is afraid and is making bad decisions! Put Dobbs in and let’s make a bowl game!” – Justin

“Against UF, OU, and Ole Miss, Justin Worley has just 1 TD and 9 interceptions. He also had 3 fumbles, 2 which were lost. He has yet to complete a deep ball this year, and we have played 7 games! He is doing awful, but no one (media and coaches) truly acknowledges just how terrible he has been playing. Instead everyone talks about how great a leader he is. Worley was branded as the QB that doesn’t hit home runs but hits a solid .350. Well, now he is striking out….a lot.  1) What else is it going to take, besides an injury, for the coaching staff to burn Dobbs’s redshirt? 2) When would it be a waste?” – Andrew Julian

Daniel: There are really only a couple things we can say with some degree of certainty about the Joshua Dobbs situation at this moment. 1. If Justin Worley does get injured to the point where he’ll have to miss a significant chunk (a full game or more) of time, the coaching staff will strongly consider pulling Dobbs’ redshirt and putting him in. 2. That is unless UT hits seven losses and loses its chance to go to a bowl game. Neither of those things have happened yet, so expect Justin Worley to be the quarterback on Saturday against Alabama. If Worley does, however, turn the ball over several more times and torpedos any chance the Vols have against the Tide, I think the discussion should rev up.

And while I completely understand the calls for Dobbs, I will say that it’s inconclusive, at best, that he’ll be a step up for this team. He’s looked better as the season has progressed, but he had a rough fall camp and was the third QB behind Worley and Nathan Peterman, in my opinion, by a pretty noticeable margin. I know he’s mobile. I know that would help this offensive line in that regard. But in his game action last year, he had a 3:1 INT-to-TD ratio. I understand that he was a true freshman then, but how are we to know for sure that he hops off the bench after not playing in a live SEC game in almost a full calendar year, and doesn’t do the same thing? Then UT’s in the same spot it was in and has blown his redshirt and the opportunity to have him in 2017 – a team that, for all we know, could be a championship contender that loses its starting QB because of this decision.

I’m not saying it’s foolish to want Dobbs. Maybe he’s the answer and gets the Vols to a bowl game, helps the program gain some momentum and that carries over going forward and that’s the best move. I just don’t think it’s a real cut-and-dry answer at this point.

Houston: I don’t think it would be wise to play Dobbs unless an injury absolutely to Worley and Peterman made it impossible not to. Just my opinion, but I just don’t think it’s fair to roll him out against Bama and expect a miracle performance.

Reed: First off, I wouldn’t say no one is acknowledging Worley’s poor play. I gave him an “F” for the Florida game in our weekly report card and would have given him another for his play at Ole Miss. As to the Dobbs question, I thought he’d be the starter to begin the season because I thought you’d get exactly what you’re getting out of Worley. He’s played in 24 career games and has more turnovers than touchdowns.

But he outplayed the other quarterbacks on the roster during spring practice and fall camp. Dobbs struggled with his mechanics throughout August and that effectively took him out of the running for the starting job. Worley won it and, until the Florida game, had played fairly well. Burning Dobbs’ redshirt now would be a tough call for any staff. He shouldn’t have been thrown into the fire last year when he was forced to play due to a ton of injuries at the position. If you burn his redshirt now, you’ve essentially used two years of Dobbs’ eligibility to get eight games from him – all in less than ideal circumstances. It’s a tough call and one that I wouldn’t make. If they started him against UTC it’d be a different story.

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