Bumped. We will get to how we deal with Prince's injury tomorrow am. Here is a hint we are not going to sit and around mope with "here we go, woe is us" nonsense. Meanwhile, some great points from mdjohns4 on last night's game that are worth highlighting. GO BRUINS. - N
I got a chance to watch the game again last night on DVR, and a couple of things became more clear as to how we pulled it out against the Vols.
1) Tackling. Especially from our secondary. We just did not miss tackles yesterday, plain and simple. The linebackers missed a couple, but were quickly swallowed up the secondary flying to the ball. As well as Rahim Moore played, no one made as many key one on one tackles as ATV. He was simply superb in coverage, but even better making plays in the backfield and wrapping up the legs of wide receivers and running backs in space. Courtney Viney had himself a great game as well making tackles and providing blanket coverage on plays where Crompton wanted to go deep. Regardless of Crompton's ability, the coverage downfield was good enough to keep him from even making an ill-advised throw. A couple of plays come to mind, one resulting in a coverage sack by David Carter as Crompton tried to scramble after having enough time to make a throw downfield, the other a throwaway after play action.
2) The defensive line was nasty. Given the size of the Volunteer offensive line, our line simply did not look as overmatched as I thought they would, to say the least. Brian Price was in the backfield all day. On his sack he just beat the RG off the snap and swallowed up Crompton before he could go through his first read. David Carter spent his day taking on blocks and ripping his way into the backfield. Jerzy was effective eating up blocks and allowing our linebackers to fill the gaps. The defensive ends played responsible assignment football by not losing containment and forcing plays back inside where big BP and Reggie Carter were waiting to make tackles. Both Bosworths played inspired football, refusing to quit and finishing each other's tackles. The defensive line played so well at times that the rush prevented a screen pass from developing, when getting the defensive line upfield behind the offensive line is precisely what is needed for an effective screen. On that play Korey Bosworth rushed upfield saw the running back start to peel off and moved off of the tackle to body Hardesty up.
3) Johnathan Franklin is our starting running back and deservedly so. Several of his runs were responsible for getting the offense in a position to score. If our downfield passing attack could have been at all effective against UT's secondary, we would be bringing out Kai to kick extra points instead of field goals. But Franklin was easily the offensive MVP yesterday in my mind. Without him, Kai doesn't have a chance to score points for us. Jet Ski made some great cutbacks and had a great burst all day. His vision and ability to cutback through open gaps really separated him from Coleman against UT. The power running game was not effective against that speed and size. Franklin was 17 for 80 yds (4.7/carry) and I'd argue more effective than Hardesty. More after the jump.
4) Kai Forbath is incredible. He had the leg on that 51 yarder, just couldn't get it to draw back inside the post. Even after the illegal formation penalty that nullified a 42 yarder, he calmly nailed it from 47. It's nothing new around here, but he very well could be the best in the country. Jeff Locke is a good one. His kickoffs (in the endzone!!!!!!) kept Tennessee out of good field position the entire game. He averaged 47 yds on his punts with good hangtime. That 64 yarder will do just fine.
5) NORM CHOW. Recognizing that our offensive line could not hold up the entire game against the Tennessee pass rush he utilized the tight ends, running backs, and full back effectively on short passing routes and various screens. These plays, in combination with Franklin's hard running, helped move the ball downfield when lining straight up against the UT defense and running seven step drops were not in the billing. We played most of the game in two tight end sets, which was clearly necessary. On a day where we couldn't sustain a long touchdown drive, Chow's contributions to this team through play calling were most impressive. The fact that we scored 19 with no defensive or special teams touchdowns against that savage UT defense is a borderline miracle. Thank you Kevin Prince for not throwing interceptions. Thank you, for the love of God, thank you!
Lastly, as well as the defense played, it is still uncertain as to how good we would have looked against a better offense. They certainly proved they can make a one-dimensional team look below average when forced to run every play. Then again, how many defenses will we play that are truly as good as UT? Only one, and that's SC. Our offense is much more capable of scoring points against a lesser defense. And frankly, not many teams are going to score more than 20 points against UT. Two young offenses against two stout defenses yesterday, and the outcome was not far off from what I was predicting: a low scoring tight game that we lose. I was glad to be wrong on the latter. Cal might be the best offense we face, so until then, I reserve the right to make a judgement on how good this defense really is. But it certainly looks legit right now. We're only heading into Week 3 so let's stay grounded, but nevertheless optimistic as to where this team has the potential to go after two years with this staff and this talent.
Oh yeah... GO BRUINS!!!