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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“I’m not trying to throw this season away just yet, but after Saturdays unfolding in the East, I can see the wheels falling off of this season. What would it take for Currie to make a coaching change this year?” – Sam
Nathanael: I think it would take a disastrous season for there to be change. And, unfortunately for the Vols, I could see that being a possibility. What I mean by “disastrous” is a 7-5 season with losses to UGA, Bama, LSU, and SC the rest of this season. If they go 8-4 and avoid a “bad” loss, I think Jones is still at Tennessee. But I wouldn’t put it past Currie to make a move at that point either. If the Vols lose to Vanderbilt again, however, I think a move gets made. And if they lose to Kentucky…well, we all remember what happened to the last guy who lost to Kentucky.
Will: If Tennessee doesn’t go to a bowl game, I think he maybe makes a change. But Currie doesn’t want to hire a new football coach in his first full year on the job. If Tennessee goes to, and likely wins a bowl game, Jones can say that he’s won four straight bowl games in his time at UT. But a lot has to happen for the wheels to fall off. I’m not sure that’s a forgone conclusion.
“How could the Vols have some of the best recruiting classes and still be on the same level as Kentucky yearly?” – Dave
Nathanael: I don’t think they’re on the same level as Kentucky. Have you seen Tennessee’s games against Kentucky the last four or five years? The Vols clearly have the edge over them. But I get what you’re saying to an extent. You mean the talent on Tennessee’s roster surpasses Kentucky’s, yet why can’t the Vols finish better than 4-4 in conference play (like last season) which was what Kentucky also finished with. And to that I say this: Coaching and player development. That’s why.
Will: They aren’t on the same level of Kentucky. Mark Stoops has never beaten Butch Jones. It is way too early to make these kinds of assumptions in week three. I don’t think many people counted on a win in the Swamp, yet people are treating this like a loss to Indiana State. There’s still so much football left to be played.
“Why did we flip flop kickers?” – Wes
Nathanael: Because Aaron Medley hasn’t shown he has the accuracy to consistently hit field goals from 45 yards or further. Tennessee isn’t the only school to employ the two kicker method in college football. Cimaglia has the leg to nail deeper kicks (as you saw when he hit that 51-yarder), and his deep ball accuracy has more consistency to it than Medley’s. Which I’ve always found odd because I know Medley has the leg for those deep kicks, but he’s struggled with the accuracy since he’s been at UT.
Will: I think it makes sense for now. You go with the more consistent guy at longer distances. I said before the season that Cimaglia would likely be the long distance guy all season, and I’d honestly expect that continue. But there’s an odd line between where those kicking duties are divided. Someone needs to separate himself within the next few weeks.
“Why did we not have every player in the end zone on the last play? Did you forget about the Georgia game?” – @Easttngal
Nathanael: Because if you did that, you’re giving Florida all the rest of the field they need to set up a field goal attempt. I do believe they should’ve had their safeties playing much deeper, but as Bob Shoop explained, they had Florida’s play call snuffed out. Florida wasn’t even preparing to throw a “Hail Mary” like that. But you have to consider all the possibilities in that situation, and I think the safeties should’ve been playing deeper because of it.
Will: Both teams were scheming for a short pass over the middle to set up a long field goal. I have no problem with the scheme on that play, it was just the execution that didn’t work out. You can’t let a player behind you in that situation. The coaching staff needs to do a better job showing their safeties how to cover the deep ball in a scramble drill. Other than that, I don’t think a prevent defense would’ve been very productive either.
“Is checker Neyland a thing this year?” – John
Nathanael: I haven’t heard anything specific either way on this, but if I had to guess, the Georgia game this year will be the Checker Neyland game.
Will: I’d be very surprised if it didn’t happen against Georgia. If not, maybe Vanderbilt.
“At what moment in our past 15 years did we displease the football gods?” – @rowright83
Nathanael: The common consensus seems to be that firing Fulmer has given Tennessee the “Fulmer Curse,” so my bet would be that. But there was certainly plenty of heartbreak even before firing Fulmer too.
Will: Hiring Lane Kiffin upset the natural balance of things.
“If roles were reversed, game tied 20-20 and VOLS get the ball with 40 seconds left, what % chance that BUTCH tries to win in regulation?” – Shannon
Nathanael: I think it would depend on a lot of factors. If you 100 percent switch the positions and the Vols started with the same field position Florida started with, I would say there would be a decently good percentage shot that Jones would go for at least a field goal chance. But I would still give him less of a percentage than McElwain just based on what we’ve seen with Jones at Tennessee.
Will: Well, he’d probably hand the ball of to John Kelly like he did at the end of the first half. That got Tennessee in range for a long field goal. Or, like he did two years ago, he’d call the necessary plays to get Tennessee in field goal range. And in that exact scenario, UT was a near Aaron Medley miss away from winning in Gainesville. So yes, roles were literally reversed two years ago, and Tennessee made some pretty good plays.
I understand criticizing some of Butch’s decisions, but in this case it’s completely without cause.
“Any advice for how to tell who’s who on twitter? Everyone is just black circles.” – Andrew
Nathanael: I’ve had that same problem lately. Just closely pay attention to the @ handles and you should be fine. Still disorienting though.
Will: Just practice good eye discipline and you’ll be fine.