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“What was a worse moment for Chad Kelly, throwing away the game or getting exposed by Mia Khalifa?” – Jake Tidwell
Daniel: Getting exposed by Mia Khalifa, 100%. She’s done that to people before and she gave him a warning too. When you get owned so badly that you have to delete your account, that’s an absolute low point.
While he threw some picks, he also had four touchdowns and 300+ passing against one of the best teams in the nation, so I didn’t think his on-field performance was the bad, especially compared to the Twitter incident.
Erik: For sure the porn star situation, that’s terrible
Stephen: I mean…Kelly deleted his twitter account after the Khalifa thing. He didn’t quit football (that I know of) after losing to FSU.
“What do you think of mike DeBord’s play calling? Should he have been more creative in a tight spot?” – Grant Winfree
“Why does DeBord refuse to run an under center goal line formation with a lead blocker for 240 lb Jalen Hurd? #mindboggling – @RockyTop10EC
“With Dobbs being limited and DeBord’s play calling limited (as always), will it take a defensive TD to win?” – Keith Rouse
Daniel: We can tackle all the DeBord questions in one swoop here. I certainly didn’t think it was an incredibly well-called game, but I also think execution was lacking across the board. That put DeBord in a tough spot. The passing game was clicking early, and then it looked like the receivers were felling sorry for themselves after the Preston Williams drop in the end zone. The O-line wasn’t protecting consistently and Joshua Dobbs was making uncharacteristic mistakes (the INT before half, almost threw a pick-6 that was intended for Kamara in the first half). That limits what you can do. So he handed the ball to Jalen Hurd and found a way to win.
I’m not giving the coaching staff a pass though. I thought the team got way too easily deflated when a couple bad things happened, and that reflects on the staff. Credit them for getting it together enough to get the W (albeit, a fortunate one in many regards), but that was an ugly start to the season, no question.
Also, I agree with you @RockyTop10EC…I would love to see them go under center more inside the 5. And Keith, no, I don’t necessarily think it will take a defensive TD to win this week. I expect UT to play better, and I don’t think Virginia Tech is that great, though certainly good enough to win if UT plays like it did Thursday.
Erik: Decision making for the QB has to be spot on for the play caller to open up the playbook.
Stephen: I honestly get confused on DeBord’s play calling at times. He has had games where he looks great, ie Northwestern. And then there are games where I scratch my head and wonder what the heck he’s thinking, and App State was one of those games. As for being more creative, I think DeBord has shown he is capable of being creative in tight spots. Just look at the Florida game last year. But I would like to see a little bit more of that when it seems like nothing else is working in games like this App State one.
For what it’s worth though, I would like to see this offense use their strengths a little more. With Hurd and Kamara they should be able to run down hill for 60 minutes. And with guys like Preston Williams, Josh Malone, and Ethan Wolf to throw the ball to, even with a less-than-accurate quarterback, those guys should be given more opportunities to make plays.
“How bad will UT outnumber Virginia tech fans at the game?” – Tyler Wright
Daniel: Good question. 60/40 UT maybe? I don’t really know. I think UT’s fan base is certainly larger, but it’s a huge game for Virginia Tech too, and their fans are really excited about Justin Fuente and Jerod Evans.
Erik: 2 to 1
Stephen: If 160,000 fans show up, I expect at least 100,000 to be UT fans.
“The interior three on the O-line: Fluke game or any tangible reason to be concerned?” – @MaxTE34
Daniel: Definitely a reason to be concerned. I thought the trio of Dylan Wiesman, Coleman Thomas and Jashon Robertson could be a strength for the Vols, and it looked more like a weakness. And I’m not sure how many people realize that Appalachian State had to replace one of the best defensive linemen in school history (Ronald Blair/49ers) over the offseason. They were scrappy and well-coached, but certainly not a fierce group. It’s going to be a major issue if UT doesn’t get that fixed one way or another.
Erik: Fluke game, little banged up, didn’t come ready to play. Lots of reasons, perfect storm. They’ll get better.
Stephen: I am going to say fluke, because they were pretty decent last year and only lost Kyler Kerbyson. But they clearly still need work. Personally I would like to see Jack Jones at right guard, but Weisman is capable. I think they will get their act together this week in practice and be much better against Virginia Tech, but you better believe Bud Foster has watched the film and will have the Hokies defensive front ready to bring the heat.
“Think Evans will hurt us with his legs since we struggled in the past with mobile QBs? Favorite stadium food?” – Ryan Hickson
Daniel: It’ll definitely be something to watch. Evans is a throw-first guy, but he can pull it down and run. He had 46 yards of rushing against Liberty last week, though 37 of those came on one play. He rushed for about 51 yards per game in junior college last year, but he threw for around 400, so you have to stop his arm first. UT did a decent job with Taylor Lamb (8 carries, 27 yards) and really didn’t face many top-tier rushing guys last year except for Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield who ran for 46 yards on 14 carries, but Butch Jones did struggle with them early in his career at UT.
Not a huge stadium food guy. Sporting venues around the nation are charging $6 for a mediocre hot dog, $5 for a drink and then looking around trying to figure out why attendance is dropping across the board.
Erik: He has a chance to be a first year on the scene award winning QB. He scares me, and I don’t want to talk about it. And popcorn.
Stephen: I think Evans has huge potential, but he did have some struggles against Liberty with two lost fumbles. And he’s about to play against a very good Tennessee defense in the largest football game ever. If this game were mid-season, I would be more worried. Being so early in the season though, I think he will either have a Baker Mayfield-esque breakout performance, or he will really struggle – and that includes running the ball. And I’m with Daniel on the food. I only eat it in the press box because it’s free.
“Was the App State game equivalent to the 2015 South Carolina game?” – @BlazeKeylon
Daniel: We’ll find out. I think that’ll be a great comparison if UT goes on to meet or surpass expectations. Great teams do have sloppy games sometimes and it’s easy to overreact after one game. But only time will tell if it’s that or a sign of things to come like UT’s terrible opener in 2005 against UAB.
Erik: Honestly the quality of opponent is kinda similar. App State is better than people thought.
Stephen: This game actually reminded me more of North Texas from last year. Obviously App State is way better than North Texas, but Tennessee still played down to their level and kept it a lot closer than it should have been. Give credit to App State though. They are a good football team and almost made Tennessee pay for taking them for granted.
“If cut blocking hurt us so badly, why won’t every team we face cut block? Why don’t we?” – Jeff Cook
Daniel: Most teams have some cut blocking in their repertoire, but it’s a maneuver generally used by teams that run a ton of outside zone plays (usually used on the backside of those plays) and teams that run a fair amount of option and misdirection like Appalachian State. There’s certainly some risk involved. When you leave your feet as an offensive lineman, you better get it right, or the defensive lineman will slam you into the ground or jump over you and be 100% free. So it’s not something you just throw in there for a week. But App. State was very good at it, and it helped them neutralize the overall size/athleticism edge that UT had.
“Is there any rational person who STILL thinks that @UTCoachJones is ‘learning/growing/improving’ in any way, shape or form?” – Kenny Martin
Daniel: My position on Butch Jones has been pretty consistent. He’s a good program builder and recruiter who has made UT significantly better since he showed up in December 2012, but I do have questions about his overall on-field coaching and game management. This season will tell us a ton about if he’s ready to be an elite coach in that regard or not. It certainly was not a good start on Thursday, but if he beats Virginia Tech and Florida, nobody will care about Appalachian State.
Erik: Yeah, I think he’s for sure getting better. It’s his first time going into a fourth season. He has 11 more games in the regular season.