Insider Mailing: The Kahlil McKenzie Duck Edition

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    Josh Dobbs-1-4

    “Would you rather fight 25 duck-sized Kahlil McKenzies or one Kahlil McKenzie sized-duck?” – Blake Tucker

    Daniel: While this literally might be the best Insider Mailing question we’ve ever received, I do need a little more information. The type and size of the duck is critical. Through extensive research, I found that ducks can range from 2-15 pounds. That’s a big difference. If they were closer to the 15-pound variety, we’d be talking about almost 400 pounds worth of crazy little 5-star ducks charging me from different angles. Not sure I want any of that.

    On the other hand, the thought of a Kahlil McKenzie-size duck is horrifying. He’s in the 6’3-6’4 and 310-340 pound range. Think about that coming at you in duck form and I’m assuming this creature could fly too. Game over for me. I’m going to take my chances with the little ones and hope they are of the smaller variety. I would certainly leave with many wounds, but I’ll take that over the alternative of being engulfed by the massive duck.

    Houston: What an intriguing question, but also one that is very simple to answer. Think about facing a flying, 6’2, 330 pound duck in the middle of a field with no weapons. All you have is your your hands. The duck would absolutely thrash you until there was nothing left. He could fly into the sky and dive-bomb you whenever he pleased, he could probably fit your entire head into his teeth-filled mouth and crush it with one chomp and he could kick you with his huge, sharp duck claws. Plus, ducks know how to fight…They are wild animals who fear nothing. He also has an layer of padding around his entire body as well in the form of huge feathers. You wouldn’t be able to make a dent in this thing.

    Give me 25 duck-sized Kahlil McKenzies and I’ll practice my kicking technique with little trouble. (No offense, Kahlil.)

    Reed: My answer requires some context. A few years ago I was fishing in the ocean in Florida when a hapless pelican decided to dive for my bait. Unfortunately, I hooked that sucker and reeled him in. Getting a hook out of a pelican’s beak is no easy task. They have a tooth on the end of their beak and like to use it. After some debate, I got a beach towel and went all Steve Irwin (RIP) on him and covered his eyes. The now calmed bird let me remove the hook and flew off. That pelican probably weighed 20 or so pounds and absolutely could have inflicted some serious damage.

    I can’t imagine facing a 340 pound variety.

    Size of the bird is, as Daniel put it, critical. There’s no way I’d take my chances with a 340 pound duck. Its beak alone could chop me in half in one swoop. I’m gonna get graphic here for a second. Can you imagine what a 340 pound duck crapping on your head would do? It would end your life in a disgusting fashion if said duck crapped from a sufficient altitude. No way I want to go out that way.

    So I’m taking my chances with 25 duck-sized Kahlil’s (my apologies) as long as they don’t weigh more than 10 pounds each.

    John: My goodness. Daniel thinks this may be the best Insider Mailbag question we’ve ever had. Me? I think it may be the best question ever asked, regardless of qualification.

    Here’s my answer: ONE Kahlil McKenzie sized duck. Because I don’t care how big the duck is. He’s still a duck. And ducks waddle. And all you said was that the duck was Kahlil’s size. Not necessarily of his athletic ability. So, boom, one duck, how bad could it be? I’d out run that damn thing and that would be that. But 25 duck-sized Kahlil’s could well kick my ass, which would leave me having to explain to the world how I got taken down by a mob of ducklings. Hard to spin that, whether they were actually Kahlil or not.

    “How bad do we want to see a UT/Penn St Music City Bowl? – David Thompson

    “What would be the most intriguing and realistic potential bowl matchup for UT?” – Blake Hatfield

    Daniel: UT vs. Penn State in the Music City Bowl would be a great one. Would be interesting to see how Vanderbilt fans viewed that one. UT vs. Michigan in the MCB would also be a good. Michigan needs one more win (Maryland or Ohio State) to become bowl eligible. I believe bowls try to avoid regular-season rematches when possible, but UT vs. Oklahoma in the Liberty Bowl would be very interesting, as would UT vs. Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl in what would be some form of Mike Gundy Ghost of Christmas Past/Present/Future moment as he sees what life could’ve been like at UT. How about UT vs. UT (Texas) in the Liberty Bowl also?  UT vs. Miami in the Music City or Belk Bowl would be decent as well.

    Houston: Earlier in the year I would have cringed at the thought of this matchup. I actually thought that PSU had the opportunity to be pretty good this season, but they have been a huge disappointment. Hackenburg probably has the best arm in all of college football, but he is a turnover machine and I think that the Vol defense would give him all kinds of trouble if this game were to happen. Plus, they haven’t faired too well against mobile quarterbacks this season…so Dobbs would absolutely ruin them. James Franklin making his return to Nashville after bolting from Vanderbilt would be a huge distraction for him and his team, so getting to watch that circus for a week or so leading up to the game would be worth more than they could ever charge me for admission.

    I’d love to see Tennessee play Oklahoma State. I think that would be a fun matchup and one that Tennessee would have a really good chance to win. I wouldn’t want to play Texas in a bowl game unless there was something more substantial on the line. Give me the Horns in one of the six big bowls, College Football Playoff or National Championship game. There’s also some talk about potentially playing Clemson in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte…I wouldn’t hate that, but things didn’t turn out so well the last time we played Clemson and Deshaun Watson would likely be back and healthy for that game – so, I’d rather not.

    “Is @THESethHughes the toughest looking son of a b*tch you’ve ever seen?” – @FeelsLike98

    Reed: Simply put, yes. And he’s one of the best tweeters around. This gem is a perfect example.

    Houston: When I initially saw this question on Twitter, I thought it was a joke. Seeing now that it was a serious question has me a bit perplexed. Is the Sun hot? Is water wet? Is it always cold in Lexington? Does ESPN hate Tennessee?

    The answer to all of these questions – just like the answer to the original question – is a resounding YES.

    “When is John Cave Osborne going to be on iTunes, and when is his next smash hit coming out?” – A.J. Toth

    John: A.J., people are gonna think you’re a clairvoyant.

    Because the answer to your question is TODAY. Which is really weird, since I kinda have an unwritten deal with my wife: only one song per year. And that song the past two years has been one to kick off the season. But I had more than a few people tweet me up / text me asking me to do one on Dobbs. So I told a newfound buddy of mine (who’s with a group called the G-Tenors who wrote this YouTube parody gem) and after several email exchanges, a song was born. My friend even helped me shoot it!

    But, anyway, that’s your answer. Today. As far as when I’m gonna be on iTunes? Please, bro. Hahaha.

    “Who are our remaining top football recruiting targets and what are the chances we get them? Also, what happened to the smokey gray uniforms? I liked those!” – Matt Rayburn

    Houston: I’ll actually be rolling out a list later this week that features – in my opinion – Tennessee’s 10 biggest targets that they’d like to sign for this class and what the Vols’ chances are of landing each player. Guys like Drew Richmond, Ryan Newsome, Quarte Sapp and a few more are sure to be on there, so be sure to check back on Friday for that.

    The smokey grays are in hiding. Butch Jones said that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the team wearing them for the Missouri game, so I guess there’s still a chance we see them at home this year. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Tennessee elected to wear them in the a bowl game provided they make one and were given the first uniform option.

    Dobbs seems committed to his Engineering degree. What are the chances that locks him in for his senior year? – Ben Bowers

    Daniel: Obviously too early to say if leaving early is even a consideration or not for him, but we’re all about speculation in Insider Mailing. So let’s play the hypothetical and say he continues at an astronomical (see what I did there?) pace and is in the position where he needs to decide if he stays for his senior year or not. I absolutely think that academics plays into that (assuming he isn’t done with his course load in three years). Is it enough to “lock” him in as you ask? I don’t think so.

    But coming from a great family and having such a strong academic background behind him gives him more security and options going forward, so he shouldn’t feel the pressure that some do to get money as soon as he can. I’m not saying he, or anybody, wouldn’t mind getting a huge NFL contract, but I do think it’s fair to say that he would have more to weigh in that hypothetical than most.

    “If Tyndall DOES get the axe for this NCAA stuff, who would the Vols go with as head coach this season? – Nathanael Rutherford

    “Will Donnie Knoxville ever get VolNation back or is it to0 late?” – David Thompson

    Reed: We’re very, very, very early in this process, but Tennessee would be wise to stick with Tyndall if at all possible. He was hired for a reason. In just a few months of covering the team, it’s evident that Tyndall is a very good fit (if he survives this NCAA stuff, obviously) in Knoxville and that he’ll win a bunch of games here if he gets the opportunity. He can beat you with a full court press and fast break buckets. He can beat you with a suffocating half court defense and efficient half court offense.

    I have absolutely no idea where Tennessee would turn if they cut ties with Tyndall, but current assistant Al Pinkins was not at Southern Miss with Tyndall and wouldn’t be implicated in any potential NCAA violations from Tyndall’s time there. He’d be the natural fit. That’s speculation, though. And it would be very unfortunate for Vol basketball if Tyndall isn’t the head coach for the foreseeable future.

    While there hasn’t been a giant fan movement rallying around Tyndall, fan support at Saturday’s exhibition was solid. Tennessee will struggle early this season due to a ton of roster turnover – that won’t help his cause with the fan base – but it’s certainly not too late for fans to fully embrace him. When have NCAA issues kept Vol fans from embracing a coach? I can’t remember that ever happening and will be a bit surprised if fans don’t, at some point, rally around their head basketball coach this season. Transition, more than the NCAA, has been detrimental to this program and the best case scenario for Tennessee is that Tyndall has a long run in orange and white.

    “Where do you see Drew Richmond signing in February? What other positions do you feel like we need to add in this class?”  – Todd Mawyer

    Daniel: We’ve been somewhat split at RTI over Richmond. I’ve been a pretty staunch believer that he ends up at Ole Miss. I think that’s where his family wants him, they’re playing with home-field advantage and I think he likes the selling point that Laremy Tunsil can be his mentor for a year and then he’ll go be a first-round pick and Richmond can slide into his spot. That being said, I know the Vols are putting the full-court press on and some of the commitments are helping lead the way. He continues to interact with them and I do think this one’s a long way from over, though if I had to bet at this moment, I’d stick with Ole Miss.

    Houston: I’ve heard some things that lead me to believe Tennessee still stands a very good chance of landing him, but things are never clear in recruiting. He still visits, he still talks to the coaching staff, he still interacts with current committed players…etc, so I think it is obvious that there is still a lot of interest in Tennessee from his perspective. Richmond has mentioned that he has really appreciated Butch Jones’ approach to his recruitment and the fact that Jones is being patient with him while he weighs his options, but at some point Tennessee may need to make sure they aren’t left empty handed on signing day.

    Richmond is their top target at tackle, but if they miss on him then they need to make sure they have a backup plan. Guys like Matthew Burrell and Pat Allen are names to watch in the coming months should Tennessee elect to take another player at the position.

    I think this class is pretty balanced, actually. They need another reciever to compliment Preston Williams – and maybe two more if his injury is significant. They’d like another cornerback, probably another defensive end and another linebacker or two. I think there will be some shifting that takes place with this class down the stretch that will make this class even better than it is now. There are still quite a few pieces to this puzzle that Tennessee is trying to fit in.

    “What happened to the #WRU video by #VFL films ?” – John Forsyth

    Reed: If you saw that, it was a fantastic video. Tennessee apparently unpublished it at the request of the coaching staff. They like to use some of those videos for recruiting purposes and when they’re public they lose some of their luster.

    “If Dobbs has similar number the last three games as he did at SC, does he enter the season as an early Heisman candidate?” – Chaz Lawson

    Daniel: I think if he finishes the season strong at all, he pops up on some Heisman watch lists. It’s way too early to handicap next season’s favorites until we know who all is staying and going and all that, but if he has even close to the numbers he put up at SC, then sure, he has to be in at least some early conversations as a candidate. I think the same is true for Jalen Hurd. Again, not saying these guys are anywhere close to that level at this point, but watch lists and projections are based on past production + future potential, and both Dobbs and Hurd will have both, assuming they finish the season strong and healthy.

    Houston: Yes. He has the tools, the talent, the story and the personality that will make him an easy sell for ESPN as to why he deserves consideration if he were to continue his strong play. I also think that the Heisman Committee will start putting more and more emphasis on what players do off the field and how they perform in the classroom when making their official nominations. Joshua Dobbs is a high-character individual who will represent his team and his university at a high level at all times, so if the Vols can have some early success next season and Dobbs continues putting up big numbers then I would expect his name to be mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate.

    Reed: Yes. He’s putting up ridiculous numbers right now and if he can sustain them, which is an admittedly giant “if,” he’d deserve Heisman talk. His QBR through two games ranks 5th nationally, ahead of Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott and last year’s winner Jameis Winston. He set a single-game school rushing record in his first start of the year and his 467 total yards against South Carolina rank 4th in school history.  His 120.5 rushing yards per game rank 2nd in the SEC behind Cameron Artis-Payne (132.22). His 246.5 passing yards per game rank 6th in the SEC and his 367 total yards of offense per game lead the conference.

    Sustaining those numbers will be a tall task, but if he does he’ll be a preseason dark horse for the Heisman as a junior.

    “Dillon Bates 4 of 13 games if a bowl = 30.7% Is there a past precedent for redshirt?” – Gary Huntzinger

    Daniel: I believe it’s calculated just based on regular-season games, so it’s actually 4/12 (33.3%). I’m not sure on the precedent, but I know UT likes its chances of getting it. You would hope common sense prevails here. He only played a handful of snaps at Georgia in the fourth game (the one that ‘put him over the top’), so you’d think the NCAA wouldn’t strip a player a whole year of eligibility over a few snaps, but I guess you never know. I can tell you this: UT is confident, but we’ll have to wait and see.