The Tennessee/Northern Illinois grade book
Posted by Thomas the Terrible on October 6, 2008
I feel confident in typing that the Crompton era has been put to a rest at Tennessee. Though the score doesn’t reflect it, Stephens is the better QB to lead the VOLS. Keep in mind that one reason the score doesn’t reflect why the switch at QB is good move as opposed to a lateral move is because the coaching staff kept the chains on him.
Nick “The Rifleman” Stephens still might be another piece to the Fulmer downfall though. If Stephens starts producing big time number and wins then I’m sure some critics will say “Why didn’t Fulmer bench Crompton the Mountain (False) Messiah sooner?”, but if Stephens is a bust as well then other critics will ask “What type of players is Fulmer recruiting?” Either way this is a double edged sword for Fulmer.
It distresses me to some degree that the UT athletic director Mike Hamilton had to “suggest” a change at QB to Fulmer. I believe Hamilton when he states he made the “suggestion” in order to get the crowd to show to positive energy. However I also believe that Hamilton made this “suggestion” as a way to sell more tickets.
“Phillip and I have regular meetings and we were just kicking it around and talking about it,” Hamilton said. “I just said I would encourage you that if you have a decision you ought to announce it in advance so the fans can know that.”
What a prince of a man.
One thing the score reflects is that the offensive problems that have plagued UT this season goes far deeper than the QB position. I’ll say it plainly: The whole system is broken. At times I don’t believe the right personnel are in the game. We’ll go over that as I release the grades for this week. I’m not the only one believing that as well. Some big time “donors” (other schools call them boosters) are voicing that opinion as well.
Via GVX complete story here.
“I do believe there’s time for some new blood in the head coaching position, I do,” said Chattanooga‘s Brian Williams, a VASF donor for nine years.
“He’s been good, but it’s just too conservative. There’s been too many times we’ve played not to lose and we’ve lost, instead of being aggressive and taking it a full 60 minutes, and I don’t see that happening with Phil being the coach.”
“We just recently had a change this past year with the offensive coordinator and everything, and it seems like we still have the same situation we’ve had previous years, being too conservative, not being open with the offense,” Williams said.
“I think Phil needs to open up and let the offensive coordinator run the offense like he should.”
So does Chris Parrott, a 1990 UT graduate and VASF donor since the program started.
“Up until this season I have defended Phillip Fulmer because he was my school’s coach,” she said. “It’s getting harder for me to defend with the performance on the field.”
Parrott sees the coaching change that UT made in basketball, hiring Bruce Pearl to invigorate the program, and hopes the football program could find as good a fit.
However, it took UT several tries before finding a Pearl-like fit for the basketball program.
“I predicted at the beginning of the season we’d probably be 5-7,” Parrott said. “Again, I respect Phillip Fulmer. I’m so glad he brought my school a national championship (1998), but it’s probably time, and I think it would be a good, positive change.”
I’m still not 100% on that idea I myself would like to see how this season pans out with Stephens. As the Ghost of Neyland of the 3rd Saturday in Blogtober points out in an excellent posting about Stephens…there was another QB by the name of Peyton Manning that had similar numbers in his outing. I think that Manning kid grew up to be a special QB, anyone want to argue that point with me?
Without further rambling let’s review the grades.
Stephens was 10 of 17 for 156 yards and one TD and two of the 17 were drops by the receivers. I told you the coaching staff kept him under wraps. Now you might realize that Crompton was averaging the same amount in passing yards however Stephens had zero interceptions. Has Crompton played a game this without an interception? Something else that statistics can not show is how the other players were rallying behind him on the sidelines. Stephens hung in the pocket and managed the entire game well. Stephens is clearly the new leader of the VOLS.
Running backs: F
That’s right an F. Foster had 18 carries for 75 yards. Even though he didn’t fumble he showed a real lack of power. Hardesty only had seven carries and never got in the game. This is an example of the incorrect personnel in the game. I know that you know that we both know Creer should be playing more. I understand that it is important for Foster to obtain the all-time Tennessee rushing record but scoring points and ball possession is important as well.
Denarius Moore made a name for himself using his break away speed to haul in a 52 yard TD pass. Josh “He brings hell with him” Briscoe had two catches that totaled 22 yards however he decided to pull a “foster” and fumble the ball. Braden Warren and Gerald Jones thought they were both Stocker and dropped easy passes.
Offensive Line: F
They got their asses kicked by some Mid-Major creampuff whose only claim to fame is the fact Cindy Crawford lived in the same town that the university is located at. Ramon Foster missed a block that caused Stephens to take a fumble inducing hit. There was no push in short yardage situations.
Defensive Line: C-
There is still a lack of sacks this season and stupid penalties such as late hits (yes I’m talking to you Bolden) plague this group.
While they moved around a lot, the Huskies were falling forward on most of their runs. McKenzie had nine tackles, two tackles-for-loss. Rico McCoy is still a tackling machine with no mercy and had a sack.
Though they didn’t play as well as they have in the past games this season, the 3rd string NIU QB couldn’t deliver the ball to the receivers. I think a lot of the receivers appeared open because the secondary was trying to lure the NIU QB into making a mistake. Eric Berry succeeded by grabbing an interception and running it back 48 yards. Stupid fouls were called on Rogan & Williams.
Special Teams: D+
There was decent enough coverage throughout the night however Daniel Lincoln Logs is still having problems making field goals. Lincoln made two field goals, one by bouncing off the upright bar and the other barely hooked to get inside the upright. He also missed a 32 yard chip shot. Cunningham had a punt blocked. Again I ask the question: Why don’t we have a special teams coach?
That’s right C+ people. This is the highest grade I’ve given all season. Fulmer and Clawson had Stephens ready to go and even though it was a creampuff team of sorts, it has to be challenging to come in and try to win when the fans have been booing and the team is 1-3. The defense played well and they were on the field for over 33 minutes.
Even though I call NIU a creampuff team they are phenomenally well coached. Granted I would have loved to see more points scored but there was a new QB in the game. I truly believe this team can beat anyone with the right personnel in the game. However I do not have the luxury of making that call only the coaches do. I pray they’ll make the right personnel calls for the Georgia game.