Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

August 23, 2012

ROCKY TOP BEAT: Just one week until the Vols-N.C. State contest

CROSSVILLE — The wait is almost over, by this time next week, the Vols will be in Atlanta for their season opener and fans clad in orange will be arriving throughout the day. Now it is just a waiting game while the coaches put the finishing touches on a game plan. 

While overall team depth is the best since Coach Derek Dooley arrived in Knoxville, there are still some concerns. Coming out of the spring practices, it sure looked like tight end was going to be one of the deeper positions for the Vols.

A dismissal to Cameron Clear for a conduct-related issue started the problem. Then the injuries started and seemed to be never ending, the latest being a dislocated patella to Brendan Downs’ left knee. While he is expected back later this season, the options next Friday are going to be limited. 

The starter at tight end, Mychal Rivera, is finally back to 100 percent and his back up is Ben Bartholomew, who is also the Vols fullback. After that, converted linebacker turned tight end/fullback Greg King and freshman Justin King would be the only other options until players get healthy. 

Thank goodness for a player like Bartholomew who seems to be a quick study and able to play wherever the coaches need him. It doesn’t hurt that Ben bleeds orange, just like his brother, Will, a four-year letterman and a member of the 1998 National Championship team and his grandfather, Sam, who captained the 1939 SEC Championship team back in the day. 

The wide receiver position, which was the strength of the offense, took a hit  this week with Da’Rick Rogers’ suspension from the team. UT is referencing “violation of team rules” as the reason and the length of time he will be gone as indefinite. Just what Derek Dooley needed so close to the opener, but at least, he has a quality replacement in JuCo transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. 

The running back position also took a hit for the future this past week when Davante Bourque left UT and was reported to have enrolled at a community college in Louisiana. Personal problems and possibly playing for a different position coach that was not here during his recruitment were too many obstacles for the incoming freshman to overcome. 

The anticipation of matching UT’s heralded offense against NC State’s veteran laden defense, anchored by several highly rated defensive backs, just became a bit more challenging for UT with Rogers out. State became another ranked team on the Vols schedule when they recently were included in the top 25 of the Sports Illustrated preseason rankings. Well, at least they are not in the top ten like several of the future Big Orange opponents. 

It was nice to see Jim Butler back last week. I thought he would come out a little stronger, especially after Vanderbilt’s showing last season. Maybe it is the first game match up this coming Thursday that has Jim playing nice. We will not hear the end of it if, by a miracle, the ‘Dores stay close or upset the team favorite to win the SEC East. Not that I think that is going to happen —but in opening games, stranger things have happened. 

The Tennessee fan base finally has a team with the potential to compete against the better teams on their schedule. Apparently, Las Vegas thinks they are a team to be reckoned with by making them a four point favorite against a ranked N.C. State team on a neutral field.

Of course David Kerr, Crossville’s resident Wolfpack fan, would disagree with the Vols being favored. Don’t worry, David, with Rogers suspended, that line will most likely change. 

The Pride of the Southland Band is ready to fill the Georgia Dome with "Rocky Top" and there is nothing like hearing the Big Orange Nation singing that great song at a road venue. I have a feeling this offense still has the potential to put up big numbers and N.C. State fans will have the words to "Rocky Top" memorized by games end. Go Vols!

(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)

Text Only
Sports Columns
  • Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    Cheating has been part of college athletics probably for as long as people have bothered to keep score.

    July 24, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Vols begin preparations for season opener in eight days

    The start of fall practice is only a mere eight days away. Coach Butch Jones has to be ready to get Team #118 on the field and to start preparations for Utah State.

    July 24, 2014

  • Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Even when Tiger Woods finished just a few strokes from last place at the British Open, he was one of the  featured topics in stories coming out of Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

    July 23, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Vols focused on Utah

    The SEC media days have come and gone with no real news being generated. A successful media days appearance is usually defined as leaving Hoover, AL without giving a future opponent bulletin board material. Using that criteria, Tennessee left without any major gaffs.

    July 17, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: Good things must come to an end

    The Dr. Pepper Classic, a long-time tradition at McKenzie Arena, affectively-known as the Round House, will seize, as a couple of teams dropped out, leaving the university in a "lurch," according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press Tuesday morning. Teams wanted a cash guarantee to play, which couldn't be provided (at this time).

    July 10, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Majors Invitational tees off Sunday at Lake Tansi

    It is the second weekend in July and that means Johnny Majors is at Lake Tansi this weekend to host his annual golf tournament. It is always a treat for the local UT fans to interact with those that have been a part of the Vol football program. They come to the plateau each year to renew old acquaintances and share the stories of gridiron prowess from past years. By the way, the stories sure seem to get better with time.

    July 10, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: 'Dores make history with CWS win

    History was made at the College World Series in Omaha, NE, this week, as the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team won the school's  first national championship in any sport since the Vandy women's bowling team won the 2007 national crown.

    June 26, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Tyndall hire closes the book on Martin era

    The University of Tennessee was able to close the books on the Cuonzo Martin era of Vol basketball earlier this week when they hired Donnie Tyndall to lead their program. Athletic Director Dave Hart, who conducted the search and the hiring on his own, appears to have found the right coach for this team at the right time.

    April 24, 2014

  • ROCKY TOP BEAT: You never know what will happen next with TN sports

    When you cover UT sports, you never know what is going to happen next. The past two weeks were no exception as they were filled with "the good, the bad and the ugly."

    April 17, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: Spring in full swing with Masters under way

    With "March Madness" over and the Masters golf tournament under way in Augusta, GA, you know spring has sprung.

    April 10, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014