Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

September 12, 2013

Rocky Top Beat: Vols won in convincing fashion last week

CROSSVILLE — The Vols have done exactly what they needed to do in the first two games of the season — win convincingly against inferior opponents. That might not sound like a great accomplishment, but after seeing teams in recent years struggle at times in these types of games, it was a welcome relief. 

Now, the next challenge is a huge step for this fledgling team. They not only play their first road game under Butch Jones. They will do it on the west coast against the number two team in the country, Oregon.

That would be the same Oregon Ducks that last week played on the east coast in the heat and humidity at the University of Virginia. It certainly did not affect them adversely, posting 557 yards of total offense and winning 59-10. 

Now, the monumental task for team  No. 117 and their coaches will be to execute a game plan that keeps this game close and gives the Vols a chance at an upset. Tennessee certainly expected to have a deeper team to make this initial trip into “Duck Land." 

The Vol Nation is trying to remain optimistic, while Coach Butch Jones is embracing the opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country on a big stage. You have to love this positive attitude. 

The defense showed why they will be a much improved unit in 2013 when they forced seven turnovers in last week’s game. Safety Brian Randolph intercepted two passes in the endzone and was named the SEC Defensive SEC Player of the Week. The last Vol defensive back to achieve that honor was Eric Berry in 2008 for his play against Vanderbilt.   

This week the Vols will be tested in all phases of the game with the size and speed of Oregon. They will learn more in this contest than their first two games combined. Coach Jones wants his team to learn to deal with adversity and sudden change on the field. Given Oregon’s home record of 31-3 over the past five years, Coach Jones might get a whole season’s worth of adversity in one game! 

We have all heard about quarterback Marcus Mariota who leads the Ducks' high scoring offense. Slowing down this offense is only one part of the blue print for an upset. The Vol offense must sustain long time consuming drives to rest their defense and limit the possessions for the Duck offense tomorrow. Justin Worley can not afford another slow start this week and must have a mistake free game for the Vols to stay with the high scoring Ducks. 

Then the speed on special teams is enough to have Vol coaches seeing those crazy green uniforms running uncontested in their dreams. Be sure and catch the action tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. CDT on ABC.

An unwanted distraction is the still evolving story by Yahoo Sports about money payments to current Vol Maurice “Mo” Couch and former quarterback Tyler Bray. Couch’s eligibility this season could be in jeopardy, just what Butch Jones needs with defensive lineman already at a premium this season. The return of Jacques Smith will add to the depth if Couch is held out tomorrow. 

Tennessee posted program victory number 801 last week. They are one of eight collegiate programs to pass the 800 milestone. (No, Jim Butler, Vandy is not one of those other seven). This week they will try to do the impossible and make it 802. It will take a tremendous effort from the team from Rocky Top to emerge with a victory, but with the same attitude as their head coach, who knows. Stranger things have happened. 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: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety 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
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