It's Offical

Posted by Graham Kelly | 8:30 PM | 0 comments »


Monte Kiffin confirmed reports today that he will be joining his son, Lane, at The University of Tennessee next season. Monte Kiffin is widely regarded as one of the best defensive minds in all of football and is most famous for being the architect of the traditional stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.

Recruiting Update

Posted by Graham Kelly | 1:42 PM | 0 comments »

Lane Kiffin put down his first fence post around the state of Tennessee yesterday. As he promised he would to keep, the best instate talent at UT in his first press conference. When dynamic Hillsboro corner back Eric Gordon committed to UT. The 5-9 185 4-Star prospect said Kiffin was his main reason for picking UT. In addition, Kiffin has told another quarterback prospect that was recruited by Fulmer and his staff that he would not be a good fit for his offense. Bryce Petty of Midlothian, Texas was told in a phone call from assistant coach Jason Michael that he would not be the best fit at UT. While he still had a scholarship if he wanted it, it was obvious to Petty it was time to de-commit. This makes one hope that Kiffin has a surprise QB commit coming so that UT can avoid a repeat of last year’s QB debacle.

more about eric gordon: http://tennessee.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?pr_key=67441&sport=1

Transition at UT

Posted by Graham Kelly | 9:24 PM | , | 0 comments »

As his players carried Fulmer off the field following his final 20-10 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats it became clear that the Phillip Fulmer era had officially ended. Many people had questions about where the direction of the Volunteer football program would be going as well about Phil Fulmer and his staff’s future endeavors.

Fans didn’t have to wait long to find out about the team’s new direction because the next Monday, Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton formally introduced, Lane Kiffin, as the new head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. Many former Vol legends such as, Peyton Manning, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude towards the hiring of Kiffin. While many fans especially those who were advocating Fulmer’s departure in the first place are ecstatic about Coach Kiffin’s hiring. Sports management major, Chase Woodfin, reacted by saying “When I heard Kiffin would officially take over the job I was excited for the future of our program and was happy with the decision our athletics director made.”

Kiffin brings many changes to the football team. He quickly dismissed most of the assistant coaches, including long time defensive coordinator John Chavis. For now Kiffin is retaining four of Fulmer’s assistant coaches on the offensive side Stan Dayton Latrell Scott Doug Adkins, and Jason Michael. Kiffin is going to evaluate and continue to interview the coaches before he makes a final decision on whether to retain them or not.

John Chavis has not made any public comments on if he plans to continue coaching or not however several sources have let it known that he tops Clemson’s wish list at defensive coordinator.

Phil Fulmer has refused to out rule returning to coaching in the future but it does not seem likely now that he has officially taken an administrative position with the university. Coach Fulmer will serve over the next three months as a “special assistant to the president”. It is unclear what exactly his role will be to UT president John Peterson but the position begins immediately and is effective until Feb. 28.

While the players made it clear they were upset with the forced resignation of Coach Fulmer they for the most part have warmed up to Lane Kiffin. Before the press conference, announcing him becoming the new head coach Kiffin met with the team for 41 minutes and told them that no starting job is safe. Saying they will have to earn everything in practice regardless of what they have done in the past. “He is a different coach than what we are used to. He is all about discipline and is younger so he approaches us differently” offensive guard, Jacques McClendon said. When asked if he thought Kiffin’s NFL experience could help in the SEC McClendon said, “I think the experienced staff he will bring in will help us tremendously. Being at the NFL and at Southern Cal I believe that he has seen everything that there is.”

Through the extensive efforts to make sure Fulmer went out in a dignified way and making sure the coaching search wasn’t long and drawn out the transition from Fulmer to Kiffin has gone as smooth as possible.

Lane Kiffin?

Posted by Graham Kelly | 1:12 PM | | 0 comments »


Numerous reports are pouring in from ESPN and the Knoxville News Sentinel that Lane Kiffin will be named the new head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers on Monday. Athletic director, Mike Hamilton is apparently waiting till after Fulmer's final game against Kentucky to make the announcement as to not detract from "Phillip Fulmer Appreciation Day" tomorrow. The Vols are looking to close out the season and Fulmer's tenure with a win against the visiting Wildcats. Phil Fulmer is undefeated against Kentucky and will hopefully continue one of the longest winning streaks in a series in the country.

Bama Week

Posted by Graham Kelly | 11:11 AM | 0 comments »


Well this is it, if Tennessee can somehow some way upset the number 2 team in the country we can than possibly win out finishing 8-4 and go to a decent bowl game. However, lose and the best UT can finish is 7-5 and considering how many SEC teams will be bowl eligible, UT could possibly have to sit at home this post season. With that being said, I think there is a lot of positive energy surrounding the team right now. The team finally has six permanent captains, including Eric Berry, the first sophomore to be selected a UT captain. Fulmer picked the captains last Friday. Fulmer also made practices more physical last week and it showed against Mississippi State. Of course there is the extra risk of injury now in practice now, but the old adage, you practice like you play seems to have held true last Saturday night. Tennessee will have to be at their best from the first snap but it they can somehow pull it off this week’s game could go down as one of the best victories in school history.

The Nick Stephens Era

Posted by Graham Kelly | 12:22 PM | | 0 comments »


Phil Fulmer finally benched John Crompton following his abysmal performance against Auburn two weeks ago. Nick Stephens, the redshirt-sophomore, got the start last Saturday against Northern Illinois. While not incredibly impressive, the Flower Mound, Texas native, did show impressive arm strength most notably on a 52-yard touchdown pass to Denarious Moore and throughout the night was much more accurate than Crompton had been all season. Hopefully, Stephens will continue to improve in practice this week because the Georgia defense will be nothing like the Northern Illinois Huskies. The formula for success this Saturday will be what it has had to be all season when it became apparent UT lacked a dynamic quarterback. Lean on the defense, establish the run, and don't turn the ball over.

How Tennessee Can Beat Florida.

Posted by Graham Kelly | 8:48 PM | 2 comments »


It’s pretty simply really, play power football. The team that has rushed for the most yards in the rivalry has won the contest the past 16 out of 18 years. Not to mention it will play to the apparent strengths of the Tennessee offense. Arian Foster has rushed for 100 yards in both games this season. Lennon Creer and Montario Hardesty have also looked impressive in their opportunities. It will also take the burden off Jon Crompton to make the plays that will win the game. As well, as keep Tim Tebow and the prolific gators offense off the field.

A two tight end, two wide receiver set with Gerald Jones and Lucas Taylor as the wide outs and Brandon Warren and Luke Stocker as the tight ends will provide Crompton with four quality targets and provide maximum pass protection. Giving Crompton time to take five step drops and go through only 2 to 3 receiver progression. This allows the strong armed quarterback to make easier decisions and hopefully be a more effective passer, and considering he is currently last in the conference in that category he can only get better. I still have faith that Crompton is a talented quarterback. He would not have been offered a scholarship to play for the Big Orange if this was not the case.

The coaching staff needs to change the offense to play to his talents as well as the rest of his teammates. Crompton is not quite yet the cerebral quarterback that can manage a west coast style offense that offensive coordinator Dan Clawson wants to run. I am confident that with time and more game experience for Crompton this could be possible. However, with what is by far the best team UT has played thus far the game plan has to be about what can win the game not what you want to run.

If Tennessee can rush for at least 150 yards, keep the penalties low, and not commit any turnovers they will have a chance. I don’t expect Florida to score a ton of points if Tennessee plays effective. The defense has looked down right dominant at times and already has seven interceptions.

My final prediction, Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty combine for 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Eric Berry has another pick 6 off Tebow and Tennessee wins 24-21.

Vols Go Down In Opener

Posted by Graham Kelly | 1:48 PM | 0 comments »


Well to put it simply last night was an absolute disaster for the Tennessee Vols. The Big Orange seemed very unprepared last night John Crompton was 19-41 for only 189 yards with 2 interceptions and one fumble and failed to get in a rhythm all night. Dan Clawson’s play calling was suspect he failed to move the pocket and get Crompton away from UCLA's pass rush. Montario Hardersty played very well all night as well as Arian Foster with the exception of his key fumble in the red zone. Hardesty had 2 touchdowns and 66 total yards. Meanwhile, Arian Foster earned a hundred yards and averaged 7.4 yards a carry but was only given 13. The defense was pretty stout the majority of the night except UCLA's final drive of the 4th quarter when the Bruins marched 70 yards in less than 2 minutes. Special teams were also terrible for the Vols last night. Chad Cunningham had 1 punt blocked that led to a UCLA touchdown and Daniel Lincoln was 1 for 4 although 2 were from over 50 yards. Hopefully the offense will be able to get it together over the course of current bye week and leading up to the UAB game on September 13. Because a performance like last night’s will not cut it in SEC play.

Final Scrimmage

Posted by Graham Kelly | 8:55 PM | 0 comments »


The Vols had their final scrimmage of training camp this past Thursday and the running game proved to be very effective. Montario Hardesty ran for 79 yards on only four carries. Arian Foster looked as fast as ever has which will reassure fans that remember him being caught from behind on more than one occasion last season. The defensive line also looked improved. Ben Martin, Robert Ayers, and Wes Brown all recorded a sack each. John Crompton also looked ready to lead the Vols into the Rose Bowl on Labor Day. Cutting down on interceptions and other mistakes that he had in the beginning of camp. Most exciting is the chemistry between the quarterback and first offensive coordinator Dan Clawson.

Mediocre?

Posted by Graham Kelly | 7:13 PM | 0 comments »


The Vols had their first scrimmage of fall camp today and the offense failed to impress. However, they were without the services of starting running back Arian Foster who was held out as a precaution because of a sore knee. John Crompton was 12 of 16 for 114 yards and 1 interception. The pick came when a defensive lineman tipped the ball into the waiting hands of Demetrice Morley. Montario Hardesty also failed to make any ground on the starting job with Foster out he fumbled on the first offensive series. Considering that turnovers played a huge role in 3 of Tennessee's loses last year the fact the offense is still having problems protecting the football is troubling.

Tennessee Footballl All-Time Team

Posted by Graham Kelly | 3:40 PM | | 0 comments »


To pass the time untill the start of the season I decided to pick an all time team. I only picked players that I saw in person with two exceptions. Some people may complain about the lack of older players but the truth is alot of those guys couldnt compete with modern players. For the most part, I picked the best players, but I also considered chemistry and included players that clicked well with the quarterback (Peyton Manning) and a running back that put some heart and soul into the offense too.
Because UT currently does not play with a full back, I did not include one in the lineup.

QB: Peyton Manning—Does this need any explanation?

RB: Travis Stephens—There have been many other more talented backs in school history, but it is Stephens who holds the school single season rushing record and is a former first team All-American and All-SEC player. He was a very determined runner who played with a lot of heart.

WR: Robert Meachem—One of the most explosive receivers ever for the Vols. He was first team All-American and All-SEC.

WR: Joey Kent—He was Peyton Manning’s favorite target back in the day with two seasons with 1,000 yards receiving. He was All-SEC twice.

WR: Willie Gualt— He was one of the fastest players to ever play for Tennessee. He was All-American and All-SEC.
LT: Aaron Sears—All-American.

LG: Cosey Coleman—All-American.

C: Trey Teague—He made the All-SEC team in 1997. Given the importance of good chemistry between center and quarterback, he is reunited with Peyton Manning.

RG: Fred Weary—All SEC.

RT: Jason Layman—Layman was a Tennessee native, a three year starter, former captain and All-SEC.

TE: Jason Witten—He was hands down the best tight end in UT history.

DE: Reggie White—The Minister of Defense is one of few Vols to have his number retired by the university and holds the school career record for sacks with 32. He also holds the single season record (15), as well as the single game record (4). He was the SEC Player of the Year in 1983 and First Team All-American.

DE: Todd Kelly—He had 11 sacks his senior season en route to being named All-SEC and becoming a first round pick.

DT: John Henderson—He was a two time All American and Outland Trophy Winner. He was one of the most dominant run stoppers of his generation.

DT:Darwin Walker—He was All-SEC and an anchor of the national championship team.

OLB: Leonard Little— Little was an All-American and a feared blitzer.

OLB Raynoch Thompson—He started on the national championship team and was first team All-American in 1999.

MLB: Al Wilson—Wilson was an All-American and the heart and soul of the '98 defense. He finished his career with 272 tackles.

CB: Dale Carter—He was a two time All-American as a kick returner and a defensive back, as
well as a Thorpe award finalist.

CB: Terry Fair—Fair was a tenacious defender earned All-SEC honors and was an explosive kick returner.

FS: Deon Grant—Grant was an All American and interception machine.

SS: Eric Berry—I honestly believe he will go down as one of the best players in school history. Every time he touched the ball last season it was electric.

K: Jeff Hall—Hall was a very clutch kicker who had many game winning kicks and made the All-SEC team in 1998.

P: Dustin Colquitt—Any All-Tennessee team would be incomplete without a Colquitt at punter, so why not pick the one with the highest average?

Fulmer Makes The Rounds At ESPN

Posted by Graham Kelly | 3:16 PM | | 0 comments »


Phil Fulmer was at the ESPN campus today making an appearance on ESPN 2's First Take, College Football Live, and three diffrent radio shows as well as stopping to chat with fans on the website. Fulmer was asked about receiving a subpoena last week at SEC Media Days as well as asked about his favorite UT traditions and Tennessee's basketball coaches. I was struck by how classy Fulmer was when speaking about the legal situation in Alabama and his reaction when asked by an Alabama fan about Bama's 41-17 victory last season. Many people are criticizing Coach Fulmer these days but say what you want about the coach Tennessee is lucky to have a coach that always handles the media well and represents the University in a dignified and respectful manner at all times. In an era where many coaches receive as much publicity for their off the field antics as their on field performance Fulmer is always humble and classy when dealing with the media.
You can read the whole transcript of Fulmer's chat here:

2008 Defense Preview

Posted by Graham Kelly | 7:57 PM | | 0 comments »

Rico McCoy making a perfect form tackle


The past two seasons have been the worst for the defense in the Chavis era at UT. Defensive coordinator John Chavis took the reins in 1995 and has historically produced very stout units.
However, Tennessee has been uncharacteristically very anemic against the run the past two years, giving up an average of 164 yards on the ground last year and 147 before that.
If Tennessee wants to improve upon just winning the East division for the first time since the national title season of 1998, there must be improvement against the run.

Defensive Line

Last season’s sack leader, Robert Ayers, returns at end. Unfortunately, he only had four sacks. For now, junior Wes Brown (6'4", 256) will be lining up alongside Ayers, but Vols fans should not be surprised to see sophomore Ben Martin (6'3", 240) pass either one on the depth chart.
The Cincinnati native was a five-star prospect coming out of high school and continues to impress coaches. If Martin reaches his potential this season, he could give a very large boost to the defensive line.

At tackle, both starters return. However, J.T. Mapu, who played heavily last season, is lost to graduation. Fourth-year junior Dan Williams (6'3", 310) and senior Demonte Bolden (6'6", 290) return as starters. Coaches hope Williams, the top returning tackler along the line, can continue to build on his breakout season of last year, after losing over 40 pounds since arriving at UT.
As for Bolden, he has always had the talent to exceed in the SEC, but not quite the mentality. Bolden was suspended for the Louisiana-Lafayette game for violation of team rules and missed the Outback Bowl for academic reasons. If Williams and Bolden continue to improve, they should form a solid run-stopping tandem. However, they must stay healthy, because behind them there isn’t much on the depth chart. Walter Fisher is the only returning letterman at the position.

Linebacker
By far the strength of the defense last year, this unit must replace two starters, including the tenth overall NFL draft pick Jerod Mayo. On the bright side, crowd favorite and second team All-SEC weak side linebacker Rico McCoy (6'1", 215) returns.

Sliding into the middle is senior Ellix Wilson (5'10", 225). Wilson, a long time special teams monster, finally gets his chance to start. Wilson has also demonstrated good leadership qualities, calling a team meeting at his house after a string of players got in trouble. Along with other seniors, he mandated a team-wide 11 o'clock curfew.

At strong side, spring practice ended in a dead heat between two seniors, Nevin McKenzie and Adam Meyers-White. I expect the duo to continue to split time, at least in the beginning of the season.

Since strong side has traditionally been the captain and play caller for the defense, I expect three-time academic All-SEC Meyers-White (6'1", 215) to get the start and have McKenzie (6'1", 215), a converted safety and possibly the best natural athlete in the unit, come in during passing situations.

Defensive Back

John Chavis thinks this could be the most athletic secondary he has ever coached, and certainly the best unit since the ’98 team. Eric Berry (5'11", 195) returns to lead what will be the strength of the defense this year.

At corner, four players return that have starting experience. The very athletic sophomore Brent Vinson (6'0", 190) will most likely hold on to his starting position and be bracketed by junior Marsalous Johnson (5'9", 180), who is returning from a shoulder injury. Sixth-year senior Antonio Gaines (5'9", 185), who is returning from a torn ACL, will push him for the starting job, as well as take care of nickel coverage duties.
Senior DeAngelo Willingham (6'0", 200), who made eight starts last season, split the award for most improved defensive player during spring ball and could overtake Johnson or Gaines. Sophomore return specialist Dennis Rogan (5'10", 185) provides even more depth at the position.

At safety, former starter and five-star high school prospect Demetrice Morley (6'3", 195) returns after a yearlong absence from the university. Morley pairs up with sophomore sensation Eric Berry to form what could possibly be the very best safety tandem in the country.
The word out of spring camp is that Morley has not missed a beat and established himself as one of the leaders of the 2008 defense, even giving the unit the collective nickname of “The Goon Squad," saying that they are a bunch of goonies on the field and comparing the unit to piranhas in how quickly they can all break on the ball and make a play.
With such a abundance of talent in the secondary, look for Chavis to blitz often this season to make up for the lack of push from the line. With a security blanket like Berry and Morley, any coordinator should be more prone to take risks.

2008 Offensive Preview

Posted by Graham Kelly | 3:59 PM | | 0 comments »

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Quaterback John Crompton

Following a off-season of turmoil: 11 players getting into some sort of trouble with the law, an almost complete turnover of the offensive coaching staff, and a hometown columnist calling for Phil Fulmer to step down or be fired. Going into the 2008 season there are many questions about the most recent version of the Tennessee Volunteers. Replacing four offensive coaches including Offensive Coordinator David Cutcliff was not easy but for the first time in the Fulmer era, an offensive coordinator was hired from outside of the Tennessee coaching tree. Enter former Richmond head coach Dave Clawson. New wide receivers coach Latrell Scott followed Clawson from Richmond. New running backs coach Stan Drayton bolted to Knoxville from Florida -- and previously worked with Clawson at Villanova. The recent additions gave Tennessee's coaching staff an infusion of youth -- of the four newcomers, Clawson is the oldest at 40.

Quarterback

Long time starter Erik Ainge is gone, but if you are expecting a quarterback controversy forget about it as Phil Fulmer declared fourth-year junior Jonathan Crompton QB1 at the very beginning of spring camp. After two years of backing up Ainge, Crompton finally gets his chance to lead the Big Orange full time. Crompton (6-4 220) brings a different style to the offense then the cerebral Ainge. Crompton has a gunslinger mentality reminding me of Brett Favre possessing the arm strength to make plays down field such as his memorable bomb to Robert Meachem in the 2006 LSU game as well as his 74-yard touchdown pass to Denarious Moore on the very first play of the Spring Game. However, Crompton has also shown a tendency to force bad throws and take risks for example the terrible interception he threw on the last play of the Spring Game. Vol fans can also expect a lot less balls thrown out of bounds when the protection breaks down this season Crompton will not be afraid to tuck the ball and scramble for extra yards. He became a crowd favorite for ending his runs in Tebow-like fashion plowing over safeties in the 2006 Cal and LSU games. If Crompton can keep his mistakes and turnovers down Tennessee fans can expect lots of production from the quarterback position. Crompton was highly touted coming out of high school and his expected by many to live up to his potential this season even landing on the Maxwell Award watch list.

Backing up Crompton are Sophomore Nick Stephens (6-4, 215) and Red-shirt freshman B.J. Coleman (6-3, 210). It is unclear who the second string is both players had inconsistent springs the competition will continue into fall camp.

Running Back

Believe it or not, Arian Foster is on pace to become the all time leading rusher in UT history, Foster trails Travis Henry by only 684 yards. However, the more important Foster statistic is in the nine games last season when the San Diego native carried the ball 16 or more times Tennessee went 8-1. Foster has also slimed down in the off-season now listed at 215. UT Strength and Conditioning coach Johnny Long says that Foster now has 4.5 speed, which should reassure Volunteer fans that have memories of Foster being caught from behind more than once last season most notably in the SEC Championship game on a play that could have been the game winning touchdown. Tennessee fans should also expect Foster to receive more balls through the air in Clawson’s multiple formation offense. Clawson has stated numerous times that he wants to get the ball to playmakers in space whether this means more screens or Foster flaring out of the backfield more often it remains to be seen.

Behind Foster, is New Bern, North Carolina product Montario Hardesty (6-0 210) Hardesty has shown explosive ability in the past but staying healthy has been a challenge. Hardesty sustained a stress fracture in his lower leg in Spring Practice yet another injury in his UT career. If Hardesty can’t effectively spell Foster, look for speedy sophomore Lennon Creer (6-1, 210) to get the call. Creer will also return kick offs this season. Freshmen Tauren Poole could also see the field after impressing coaches with his work ethic this spring.

Wide Receiver

Percy Harvin, Early Doucet, and Earl Bennett might have had the most publicity among SEC receivers last season, but Lucas Taylor had more yards than all of them. In fact, Taylor was 3rdin the conference with 1,000 yards. This year Taylor (6-0, 185) is now a senior and returns along with Austin Rodgers and Josh Briscoe.

Clawson and Wide Receiver Coach, Latrell Scott, have said they would like to have rotation of 5 to 6 receivers this season. Despite having three returning starters, the pecking order in the new coach’s rotation is up for grabs. This is because of the emergence of former Oklahoma Mr. Football, Gerald Jones (6-0, 185) who demonstrated his talents with a remarkable touchdown catch in overtime against Kentucky last season. Not to mention he is also one of the fastest players on team. Jones was all over the field in the Spring Game making plays in the G-Gun formation. The formation was Jones the former high school quarterbacks lines up under center. Quintin Hancock the former 4-Star prospect also made a name for himself in the Kentucky game last season. I expect Taylor, Jones, and Hancock to emerge as the starters with Briscoe, Rodgers and Sophomore Denarius Moore (6-1, 185) all seeing action.

Tight End

Chris Brown and Brad Cottam are gone returning are junior Jeff Cottam (6-8, 260) and sophomore Luke Stocker (6-6, 245). The pair look to be pretty good tag team Cottam started six games last season and Stocker split most improved honors with WR Ahmad Paige in Spring Camp. However, the player that makes all Tennessee fans excited is Florida State transfer Brandon Warren. Warren (6-2 230) is an Alcoa, TN native who received freshmen All-American honors at FSU but left after deciding he wanted to return closer to home. However, Warren is currently waiting to receive clearance from the NCAA to play for Tennessee.

Offensive Line

The O-Line is the only position that retains its position coach, Greg Adkins returns to lead what looks to be a very promising group. Returning all five starters from a group that offered excellent pass protection all season long. The one change is that Clawson has eliminated the right and left designations the players it’s now the strong and quick side the boys will flip sides depending on their position on the field. Clawson hopes to create mismatches by doing this and force defenses to prepare for many different looks. Ramon Foster (6-6 325) and Chris Scott (6-5 310) return at tackle.

Guard is the position with the most depth Senior Third Team All-American Anthony Parker returns alongside the Tennessee bench press record holder Jacque McClendon (6-3 320) both are pushed for playing time by Vladimir Richard who looks to continue to be a tenacious sub in the rotation and keep all the guards fresh for all 4 quarters.
Center Josh McNeil (6-4 280) missed spring practice but isn’t expected to miss a beat after starting all of last season if he does falter Parker will move over to center who also filled in for him in the Spring.

However, behind the starters there is not much depth outside of Richard the second string unit was labeled as “soft” by Fulmer in the spring.

Welcome!

Posted by Graham Kelly | 3:48 PM | | 0 comments »

Welcome to my brand new website part of the SportsBlogNet.com network, providing comprehensive sports coverage. I'm a sports journalism major at the University of Tennessee and will be writing updates about Tennessee football, basketball, and maybe other sports during their respective seasons.

I can be contacted at gckelly14@hotmail.com