What game should we #CheckerNeyland this year, assuming we do it? – @SmokeyGreyVol
Daniel: South Carolina. The Vols are 0-3 the last three times they’ve tried something big at home (Smokey Grays vs. Georgia and Vandy in 2013 & Checker Neyland vs. Florida in 2014).
I’m not saying there’s a direct correlation, but regardless, it’s time for UT to get some better memories in these situations. South Carolina is the only home game that is important enough to still be considered a big game that I feel pretty good saying the Vols should be favored in and should have a lot of confidence against the opponent.
Houston: Oklahoma…The Vols will be undefeated with revenge on their minds. The crowd will be electric. So why not go ahead and set the tone for the season against a quality opponent when the optimism will be at an all-time high. If you lose, so be it, all of the team’s goals are still ahead of them. If you win, you get a memory that will last forever.
Reed: Georgia. That’s the most important game on the schedule from a league standings standpoint. If Tennessee can knock off the Dawgs, their path to the SEC East Crown will be much, much easier. The Vols have played Georgia within one possession the last three seasons – the extra energy from Checker Neyland could be all Tennessee needs to get over the hump against the Bulldogs.
Do you feel bad about making Phil Steele cry? – Kent Oglesby
Reed: Let me start with this: Phil Steele is one of the best in the business. No one denies that. But he made a massive mistake in leaving Derek Barnett off his All-SEC team and he kinda admitted to it. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt in regards to his explanation and I appreciate him tweeting us to clarify the situation, especially after we spent a couple shows blasting Barnett’s omission and after I wrote a column, backed by extensive numbers, demonstrating that Barnett is the single most productive returning defensive lineman in the conference.
Houston: No. He made a mistake, and deserved to be questioned about it. His explanation wasn’t exactly clear, but at least he admitted that leaving Barnett off of the 1st team All-SEC group shouldn’t have happened. Steele is usually pretty good at what he does, so I won’t let this linger too long, but how does such an “oversight” happen when your main job is to make sure that YOUR magazine is exactly how you want it?
Was the last 20 minutes of Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode the best TV ever? Any answer but yes is wrong. – Dustin Kenyon
Reed: I haven’t seen it yet, but our resident TV guru, Bob Baskerville, has said as much. So I’m inclined to agree.
A bit random here, but does Andy Enfield survive the upcoming season at USC after 2 terrible seasons? – Collin Linville
Reed: I appreciate the hoops question, Collin. Enfield was the top name on several coaching search boards after his success with Dunk City and his incredible story. This is the make or break season for him, no doubt. I’d be willing to bet they need a middle of the pack (or PAC) finish in the conference for him to feel good about staying around for another year.
Daniel: Not an expert on USC hoops, but I was hoping Enfield – and his model wife and Dunk City background – would work in Los Angeles. Thought it could be a fun program to watch. But it obviously hasn’t turned out that way. He’s won five Pac 12 games in two years and has finished dead last in the conference both seasons. Recruiting has been mediocre at best, the Galen Center looks like a ghost town now and he’s done the unthinkable – made some USC fans miss Kevin O’Neill. Think he’ll be gone after next year barring a major step forward.
Houston: My guess: yes. I think they’ll be improved, and I think this year’s team will finally start to resemble that Dunk City team that we all learned to love. Does USC really even care that much about basketball?
If you could take different parts of precious UT QBs from the past & build Joshua Dobbs, who would you, from feet to eyes? – @stu623
Houston: James Banks’ legs, Brent Schaeffer’s running ability, Tyler Bray’s arm, Peyton’s eyes/brain/playbook knowledge/pocket presence.
Daniel: Condredge Holloway’s feet. Peyton’s arm, eyes, decision-making ability and understanding of defenses. Casey Clausen’s fearlessness on the road. Tyler Bray’s height.
Reed: Joshua Dobbs’ legs, Peyton’s brain, Clausen’s road leadership, Shuler’s arm, Bray’s height. People forget about the absolute rocket arm Shuler possessed.
Houston: Never bet against the red, white and blue.
Daniel: Vegas seems to think so, so sure.
Will we see TN uniforms vary greatly from current version with Nike? – Josh Amix
Reed: I expect us to see a new helmet for Tennessee very soon. Butch Jones is pretty progressive, but he also balances that with respecting tradition, so that may not happen this year. Expect some notable changes this season, but more to come in the coming years. However, I never expect Tennessee to go full Oregon.
Houston: In year one, probably not. In year two and beyond, yes. They’ll ease the fan base into the transition.
Houston: Hmmmmm, that sounds like a good idea. We’ll look into it.
Any indication that DeBord will be installing power formations for short yardage and goal line situations? – Scott Compton
Will Coach Debo open up the offense with a fun run and gun style? – @VFL2013
Daniel: Overall I think the offense will look similar with some wrinkles and a little more emphasis on the run game. I don’t have any indication on formation changes (that’s not information they’re going to easily give up), but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them utilize more power formations in those situations this year.
I think the inability to line up and consistently get first downs on the ground in short-yardage situations last year irked Jones, and that likely played a large role in his selection of DeBord.
Houston: I think it’s inevitable. I think that Butch Jones would love to emulate what Urban Meyer was able to do last year at Ohio State when you look at blending the spread attack with the power-principles. My guess is that the offense will look like a “Power-Spread” attack in 2015 and beyond.
Dark horse player that has a break out year for UT? My pick… Jason Croom, finally utilizes size – Drew Jenkins
Reed: Not to pander to you, Drew, but I agree with Croom. There will be plenty of opportunities for him at receiver this year. He showed some signs last year of learning to use his frame in key situations. If he can stay healthy, he could be a TD machine for the Vols in the redzone this season.
Daniel: I like your Croom pick. His measurable are ridiculous…been waiting to see if he can put it all together. I’ll go with Rashaan Gaulden. The coaching staff has loved him since they first evaluated him in high school and I think you would’ve seen more from him last year if not for injuries. Think he gets the nickel job and plays well for the Vols in 2015.
Houston: On Offense, I’ll go with Ethan Wolf. Everyone keeps looking at receiver and running back, but Ethan Wolf was off to a great start last season before the knee injury slowed his progress. I’m expecting big things out of him this season.
Defensively, I’ll take Evan Berry. He was too good in the spring to keep off of the field at safety (or some other role on defense), so I think they’ll have something for him. I also think he’ll have a huge year in the return-game…so, I guess I’ll count that in my assessment.
Will Hurd’s shoulder hold up all season? I’m not trying to dog him at all just wondering . He had problems in HS and last yr. – @Tnbricklayer
Daniel: It’s a very fair question. Obviously impossible to know, but history definitely shows that there’s some doubt about that. I think they’ll continue to limit his contact reps in practice – you know what you’re going to get from him. With that and the help from Alvin Kamara, I think he can make it, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Houston: Impossible to know, but I think that having Kamara “with” him in the backfield will help keep him healthy. They need another guy to step up behind those two and I think he’ll be fine.
Reed: I feel pretty good about his health, actually. He didn’t have much help last season and still recorded over 1,100 total yards and played in every game. I know he was “non-contact” this spring, but he could have played if needed. With Kamara and Dobbs sharing some carries and Hurd running lower this season, I like his chances.
What will the first down chant be? – Logan Smith
Houston: No idea, but please let it be simple. The last thing we need is an embarrassing chant that nobody can get right.
Reed: If history is any indication, it will be terrible.
— Forrest Jenkins (@forrest_jenkins) June 3, 2015
Houston: Regarding color, I’ll take green pumpkin for it’s consistency and versatility. For name alone, I’d go with ‘Honey Doo Doo.’ The guys at Reaction Innovations are always pushing the limits regarding color names, bait names and packaging.
Daniel: Great question. Here’s how I’d categorize them: -Good chance: Back-to-back wins vs. Vandy; Back-to-back bowl appearances; Three in a row vs. SC -50/50ish chance: Back-to-back bowl wins; Beat Missouri; Beat Georgia; Beat Florida -Some chance: Winning conference record; Beat Bama; Win SEC East Low chance: Win SEC; Win National Title; Go Undefeated at Home So, overall, I think a reasonable estimate is that they’ll hit about six of those goals.