Insider Mailing: Kentucky Edition

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    How can Butch justify Medley being the “Guy” and also say that every individual competes for the starting position every week? Is that only in practice? Pre season? I think it’s a little odd. – Brandon Lay

    Who in the Hell is our back up kicker? I mean seriously. – @allenhawkins51

    Reed: Knoxville’s own George Bullock would likely be Butch Jones’ first choice were he to make a move at kicker; though, it certainly doesn’t look like a move is close to happening. Jones has repeatedly stated that Medley “is our kicker.” We’ve seen Medley miss some in practice this season, but never in an 11-on-11 scenario. The kickers usually go to the indoor facility to do whatever kickers do during the open portions of practice so, truly, we don’t see them a ton. And we simply don’t know how Bullock would perform kicking field goals when the lights come on. He handled kickoff duties some last season (10 kickoffs, 2 touchbacks) and has a decent leg. Medley is just 2-13 from field goals from 40+ in his career. Tennessee needs him to get that range figured out or they’ll have to make a change.

    Houston: Kickers are a different style of player. It isn’t that Medley is incapable of doing his job…He’s just pressing a little bit. He’s been throw into some pretty tough situations, in fairness, so I think the odds were already stacked against him on most of those kicks.

    My guess is they manage him a little better down the stretch and he finishes the season strong. They’ll need him next year…a lot.

    Daniel: I think that’s a great question, Brandon, and it just has to be credited to the weird psychology of kicking in my opinion, because yes it is a double standard. My guess is that Jones just thinks Medley has enough going through his head already and needs him to avoid thinking about job security. At some point, there will be true competition if he continues to struggle, but for now, it looks like Jones is trying to give him confidence and help him clear his mind a bit. We’ll see if it works.

    Why is Butch only willing to give Evan Berry reps at safety but not a few touches in a wildcat or receiver? Dude is explosive! – Kenneth Dockery

    Reed: It defies logic. He leads the nation in kick return average and is one of the most explosive players in Tennessee history. You’d think a screen pass, wildcat play or a couple of handoffs would be in order…but…nope. I get the reasoning that the Vols have a ton of other talented skill players available, but I’d at least find some way to give Evan Berry more than 2.14 touches per game if at all possible.

    Houston: Hard-headedness.

    Daniel: I agree with Reed – I’d have about five packaged plays for him that don’t take him away from the defensive practice field very often. Even if you just want to use him as a decoy or use him a few times so that defenses have to prepare for it in the future, I think that’d be a nice wrinkle to add to the offense.

    Can Tennessee win out? If they do win out does the season still have a sour taste because of all the close losses they have had? – Aaron Volle

    Reed: The Vols can, and should, win out. An 8-4 season with a bowl win (9-4) would likely get Tennessee into the top-25 at season’s end. Such a finish would go a long way with many fans but I don’t think anything will every undo the pain from that Florida loss.

    Daniel: I do think Tennessee, regardless of future outcomes this year, will have some lingering frustrations from this season because of the missed opportunities and the “what ifs?” That being said, 9-4 would be a solid step for this program and would bring back some of the buzz and offseason hype that was seen last year, albeit with a few more skeptics and cautious optimism from UT since the high hopes leading into 2015 made the crash at the beginning feel worse.

    In term of if they can win out – at this point, I predict the Vols will, though I think they’ll have one or two tight ones down the stretch and they’ll have to prove they can finish off games consistently.

    Bob:  Think about last season, where Tennessee won 3 of its last 4 regular season games, and then won big in the TaxSlayer Bowl.  The past was forgotten so quickly, and the “look ahead” to 2015 became the focus.  I see that happening again this season, except I see Tennessee winning out this time, particularly if the Vols escape Lexington with a win this weekend.  Almost universally, the fan base and media posture on Team 119 was “7-8 wins this season, but look out next season” as we kicked off the 2015 season, so really, you could argue all of that is still in place.  Florida and Oklahoma were heartbreakers for sure, but 6 straight wins is a pretty tasty cocktail that can wash all that away.

     Who are the best and worst CFB announcers? – @chaz9908

    Reed: Worst: Verne Lundquist. Verne Lundquist. Verne Lundquist. Verne Lundquist. Second worst: Mike Patrick. Best: Sean McDonough, Joe Tessitore and Kirk Herbstreit. Chris Fowler is getting there as well.

    Bob:  I’d have to agree with Reed and say that Uncle Verne has taken what’s arguably a Hall of Fame broadcasting career and destroyed it by staying at the party a bit too long (a few years too long!), and Brent Musberger’s not too far behind him!  They both need to ride off into the sunset before they become full-on broadcasting caricatures of themselves.   As for my likes, I too love Tess and McDonough, and though he only does Notre Dame football, I have a lot of respect for the work that Dan Hicks does.  And lastly, I could listen to Gus Johnson call a game all day long!  Some, ok, many find his style annoying, but I absolutely love his energy and passion!  Oh, and if we’re talking radio as well…you know what, let’s save that for the next Insider Mailing.  That’s too good a topic on its’ own for me to just skim over!

    Bold prediction: TN will not be an underdog again until next year’s Bama game at the earliest. Agree or Disagree? – @RockyTopBlitz

    Reed: That depends on Tennessee’s bowl matchup and where Texas A&M falls on UT’s schedule. Though the Aggies have tanked a bit the last few weeks, it’d be tough to see the Vols marching into Kyle Field as road favorites next year. I think that game will come in October before Alabama. That said, if the Vols go into that game undefeated they could very well be the favorites. For now, I’ll tentatively disagree.

    Daniel: Disagree. I’ll guess Florida is favored over UT next year early in the season.

    Bob: Agree.  As I said earlier, this team is going to win out in 2015, and 2016 is going to be an unforgettable season…I can feel it!

    What do you think Butch means when he says our defense has done a good job “leveraging the football?” – @TennCup

    Daniel: Defenses that leverage the football essentially are forcing the ball to go where they want. If your job is to have “outside leverage,” then you’re preventing the ball carrier from getting outside of you and to the sideline. If you have “inside leverage,” the goal is to force the runner to the outside. So I think what Butch means when he says the defense is leveraging the football well is that players are playing whichever leverage they have and either not letting players get to the sideline or forcing runners to bounce it, depending on their individual assignments.

    Why do our DB’s never have their heads on a swivel and look at the QB in order to possibly find the ball? #coachedtodoit? – @pastor_disaster

    Reed: Justin Martin looked to be playing the ball when he got his feet tangled with a Bama receiver on Alabama’s final scoring drive. Generally, though, they don’t do a great job of finding the football – especially the corners. Oftentimes this season they haven’t been close enough to receivers to make a play on the ball.

    What is the number of games Butch has to win next year to keep his job? – Michael Burgess

    Reed: Barring a late season collapse, I don’t see him entering 2016 on the hot seat. That number will change and adapt based on how the rest of the season goes. A poor finish would certainly add pressure in 2016, but if Tennessee finishes the season at 8-4 or even 7-5, I’d imagine another winning season in 2016 would be enough for the administration to avoid making a move.

    Houston: 8 in the regular season.

    Daniel: I think the last five or six games of this season will play a role in that for sure. As long as the Vols finish relatively strong this year, I think he’ll go into 2016 on fairly solid ground, though I would want to get to at least eight wins next year and keep recruiting at a high level to feel pretty safe if I were Jones.

    Bob:  9 wins minimum next season (pre-bowl), not so much for Butch to keep his job, but to keep the coaching seat from heating up yet again.  BUT, if somehow it’s a 6-6 type of season, then buckle up!