SEC media days begin soon and at their conclusion the start of the 2011 Tennessee Volunteers football season will be 40 days from beginning against Montana. Derek Dooley is referring to this season as “year one” of his time at UT with last year due to all the chaos that was surrounding the program being “year zero.” Tennessee fans are a lot more optimistic going into this season this year than last as they should be. Many people are predicting an appearance in the SEC Championship for the Vols as the Eastern Division champions. Today we will be explaining the Vols improvement by breaking down the offense.
I expect neither team to be able to run the ball. Pittsburgh's banged up offensive line wont be able to block BJ Rajii and company and the famous steel curtain will shut down James Starks and the Packers rushing attack. The difference will be the Packers pass offense. Aaron Rodgers will spread the Steelers with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Donald Driver for a lot of explosive plays.
Final Score: Green Bay 27 Pittsburgh 13
Ramon Foster was not ever expected to even make the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. The Ripley, Tennessee native, was an undrafted free agent after his career as a Vol came to an end. However, the kid who was a three sport athlete in high school and three year starter for the Tennessee Volunteers wasn't going to let the disappointment of going through all 7 rounds and not getting drafted stop him from following his dreams.
Foster made the Steelers roster during training camp and appeared in 14 games his rookie season in 2009. Foster even started 4 games in place of an injured Chris Kemoeatu. However, when the 2010 campaign started, Foster, once again found himself as a backup.
Much like the hard task fellow Vol, Packers, Chad Clifton faces blocking James Harrison, Foster will be charged with trying to contain the Packers feared defensive tackle, BJ Raji. Foster's play will be especially important since the status of Steelers regular starting center, Maurkice Pouncey is unknown.
Mike Lombardi, of The National Football Post and NFL Network, spoke with ESPN's Bill Simmons on the BS Report Monday, He expects the Packers to spread out the Steelers and be able to throw at will with their explosive receivers against a Steelers defense that is built to stop the run. If the Steelers are going to win the game he said, "the MVP will have to be James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley because of the pass rush they would have put on Aaron Rogers."
Thus, in his opinion and mine if Clifton the man entrusted with protecting, Aaron Rogers' blindside, is effective in neutralizing the Pittsburgh pass rush, the Packers will be able to win the Super Bowl.
Good news for the Packers is that Chad Clifton has is most famous for being able to come back injuries. In 2002 he suffered a vicious blindside hit from Warren Sapp on an interception return. Clifton’s pelvis was separated and he had to be hospitalized in a Tampa area hospital for a week. The next season Clifton returned to the starting lineup and enjoyed a pro bowl season this year. With two weeks to heal from the stinger he sustained in the NFC Championship game he is fully expected to be ready to go and be a critical part of a championship winning team just like he was for the ’98 Vols.
The Super Bowl hype machine goes into full gear today as ESPN as well as The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers descend upon the Dallas/North Texas area. The Packers will be arriving to their North Texas practice site on Wendesday giving the team off for travel on Monday and Media Day on Tuesday.
Well the Super Bowl hype has begun. This year features 4 former University of Tennessee offensive linemen. For the Green Bay Packers, Center Scott Wells, and Tackle Chad Clifton. For the Pittsburgh Steelers Ramon Foster and Chris Scott represent Tennessee on the offensive line. The Packers and Steelers have been riddled by injuries on the offensive line though out the season and into the playoffs. For the Packers Wells and Clifton have been longtime starters on the line and stalwarts in protection for Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers all season. However, Clifton who has had a pro bowl season suffered an injury in the NFC Championship game against the Chicago Bears. The Packers need Clifton had a 100% in the Superbowl against to protect Rogers from the Steeler's James Harrison and the rest of their fierce pass rush.
The Steelers are desperately thin on the offensive line and will be without stand out Center rookie Maurkice Pouncey. Ramon Foster has emerged as a solid starter for the Steelers on the offensive line but rookie Chris Scott has seen minimal playing time all season. One more injury on the line for the Steelers could push him into duty in the most important game all season.
Volwatch will be updated daily up until the Super Bowl. We'll keep following the UT players in the game and their health. As well as take a look back at their time at UT and other great Vol performances in the Super bowl.
The only thing Wayne Chism and the Tennessee Volunteers could do when the buzzer went off was sit… silently.
As Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans celebrated after their 69-70 win against the Tennessee Volunteers, the familiar smell of the final four became more distinct. As for The Volunteers, the ride had come to an end.
Tennessee absolutely played their hearts out. On offense, they had ball movement, great shot selection and amazing execution. On defense, they had countless tipped passes and an impressive number of steals. The entire team really stepped up and showed they wanted to win this game. JP Prince didn’t miss a shot the entire game (including three alley-oop dunks) unless you count the half court buzzer beater at the end of the game. The Vols shot an impressive 7-16 from 3 point land, hitting their first six in a row. Overall the Volunteers played great.
There was just one problem though…
Tennessee shot a miserable 14 of 21 from the free throw line. Call it a personal pet peeve, but I can’t stand a bad free throw percentage. When a team is in the Elite 8, fighting for a national championship, you can’t go 14 for 21 from the free throw line. When you only lose by one point and you know you played great, you look at the numbers and that free throw percentage will give you nightmares.
As for Michigan State? Well honestly, they didn’t shoot that much better from the charity stripe going 16 for 21, but without those two points, Tennessee wins by one. See where I’m going with this?
The Spartans definitely had some impressive moments. They matched Tennessee with nearly every shot. Just when Tennessee thought they had something going, Durrell Summers would score 2 of his 21 points and his Spartan teammates would bounce right back.
They were nearly dead even to the very end…nearly. When the final buzzer sounded, Michigan State was just good enough to edge out the Vols and to go to the Final 4 for the fifth time in ten years and will play Butler for a chance to go back to the National Championship game where they have some unfinished business from last season.