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  • This Saturday’s game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the UMass Minutemen should give the Big Orange an opportunity to find out more about their second-tier players. UMass is struggling mightily out of the […]

    • If this one isn’t north of 49-7, it will be disappointing. Really should be a shutout but their QB can probably string together enough short passes to score once against our very average secondary. The offense should score at will. Expecting 70 but Jones has been known to call off the blue tick hounds on those occasions where we play a cupcake and have a huge lead.

  • Below are the results from our survey of the GRT community on how last weekend impacted our collective expected win total for the Vols this season. We opened this week’s Win Probability Calculator for business on […]

  • In this week’s podcast, Will, Brad, and I:

    Take turns finding something nice to say about Tennessee in a week during which everything else has been said (1:00);
    Attempt to guess where we believe Florida […]

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  • It’s still mid-September, and the 2007 season is here to tell you that stuff can happen, man. And this weekend is particularly ripe for a good kind of drama helpful to the Big Orange.

    Most of the potential […]

  • The third game of the season. A humiliating, embarrassing loss to a hated rival. Folks immediately calling for the coach’s head on a plate.

    It was Saturday night, September 15, 2007, and Vols fans were livid. […]

    • TRADITION

    • Yep. It was a horrible, indefensible game. But it was just one game. If he has two or three more of those this year the AD will take the appropriate action at the end of the year I’m sure. But you know maybe they won’t have any more games like that and something good can still happen. All of that is still possible.

    • One thing I can’t shake from Saturday, and I think it ties back to 2007, is the distinction between process and results.

      To those that are upset about Saturday, is it because of the last play and the fact that they lost (results)? Or is it because of the series of miscues in coaching and execution that allowed Tennessee to be in a position that a Hail Mary could beat them (process)?

      If it’s the former, then are your feelings about 2007 positive? Because we won the division? If it’s the latter, then do you think that maybe the writing was on the wall for Fulmer since 9-3 could just as easily have been 6-6 (Lincoln misses the game-tying FG, but USCe had called TO and Lincoln hits the redo; Vandy is cruising 24-9 in the 4th before a roughing the punter penalty gives UT life [and the aforementioned missed GW FG]; UK having a chance to win in regulation and Double OT)?

      Sports are weird because the results are binary…you either win or you lose. With a win on Saturday, I think most of the fanbase would’ve been relatively happy. But the process would still have been bad, and that’s what concerns me re: Butch.

      • I think a key difference with 2007 is feeling like three of our four losses that year were talent issues. Cal and Florida made our defense look like it would never stop anyone again, LSU won the BCS title. The Alabama game was an obvious process problem in letting DJ Hall set school records, but I think the bigger concern there was whether Fulmer’s teams could compete at elite levels anymore as opposed to very good levels.

        I am more concerned about the process than the result from last week.

        • That makes sense. I think you could argue that lack of elite talent falls under a broader “process” umbrella, too, since recruiting is a crucial part of what makes a program go. And the complete whiff on a couple of recruiting classes certainly contributed to Fulmer’s downfall.

          You could just as easily argue that Butch’s inability to develop depth with his elite talent is a process issue. I realize most teams aren’t in the habit of having 5 good safeties, but it’s crazy to me that Abernathy and Warrior played every defensive snap on Saturday.

          I’m disheartened, but there’s still potential for good things this season. I’m not totally off the boat.

          • The East is a mess (and mess does not always equal bad). A successful season is still absolutely on the table and easily within reason. Saturday was some of Butch at his worst, but some of Butch at his best will win meaningful games this year.

    • You guys are always my UT football center. Y’all bring me back from the ledge every time. Thanks for always bringing perspective and not writing emotionally. It’s hard to remember sometimes that in the end, it’s just a game being played mostly by children. Thanks for staying positive and rational in the midst of all the negativity. That’s why I do my reading here the majority of the time.

    • After the game Saturday I’ve been avoiding anything Tennessee related. Not because I was upset but rather I didn’t want to read all the negativity I figured there’d be. Anyway after thinking rationally again I realized that we’re still in a good place. I still don’t believe that Georgia is a juggernaut and this week’s game with Miss State will test that. SC and LSU were brought back down to Earth and look pretty beatable. Missouri and Southern Miss look like wins. I need to see more of Vandy, but we do play that one at home. UK is our only major road test left. Besides Alabama we could still run the table and finish with an awesome 10-2 (6-2) season. It may not be enough to win the SEC East, but it would be successful in my opinion.

    • Ah yes, the Fall of 2007…… If I were a rich man, I’d have season tickets!

      PS. 2007 is when I joined that OTHER community that you and Will used to write at and became a loyal reader. Ten yrs flies by. You take the good, you take the bad, you em both and there you have The Facts Of Life.

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  • Take six minutes to listen to Tennessee Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop explain exactly what happened on that disastrous last play against the Florida Gators:

    It’s really refreshing to hear such a thorough […]

    • Well said Shoop, well said Joel.

    • “And when the time comes, we try to speak hard truth with grace, empathy, and humility. We try to listen the same way.”

      That’s what I can’t get from UT sports journalism anywhere else. That’s why I love this staff, this community, and this website. Thank you Joel, et al.

    • Well said. Best remembered.

    • Anddddd exhale, much better. Great post!

    • I don’t get this approach at all. Shoop is responsible for teaching the DB not to get beaten deep on a long ball on the last play of regulation. This is basic high school stuff. If you are dumb enough to play straight up, please take the proper angle to the ball. Have the proper depth to begin with. Know how much time is left in the game. Call a prevent defense and adjust shorter instead of relying on a formation read and a timeout. This guy is supposed to be a genius coordinator but the fundamentals and basics are lacking. People give him a break because he confesses to a mistake for 7 minutes? Even drunk football fans on their couch know that our team blew it on that play. Great to know why it happened. Good that he understands everything in all its nuanced glory. Glad he feels bad about it. But that boneheaded play call and execution – along with several dozen other plays that day – cost us a winnable game toward the SEC East championship. I could have done without the video or this collective sympathy.

      • I will say this, Pete: I’m still waiting to see the fruits of our great-at-least-on-the-surface defensive coordinator hire. I’m still holding out hope that the poor performances of his defenses are mainly due to an unbelievable string of injuries to our most important defensive players (Derek Barnett excluded). But, the results, especially toward the end of last season, have sometimes been Sal Sunseri levels of bad. I wonder what last year would have looked like with Jancek coaching that defense again. I’m not saying it would have been better, but just wondering.

        On another note, prevent-style soft coverage defense was what we were running on the 4th and 14 play last time we were in the swamp, if I remember correctly. We had a QB spy and only rushed 3 on the play and dropped everyone back into coverage. It’s what got Shoop’s predecessor fired, wasn’t it? I know that those situations are very different, but I think there is some irony that two years later we are looking back at a Florida loss because a defensive call wasn’t soft enough. (I know that that loss was the result of 60 minutes of football, not one 9 second play, but you know what I mean)

        • Prevent defense does not equate to only rushing 3. The line should rush hard and limit the time the WR have to get downfield. Maybe even bring an extra LB, rather than the stupid QB spy, but get enough depth for your safeties and corners that they literally cannot be beaten deep for a touchdown.

          If I recall correctly, the 4th and 14 play also had at least 3 missed tackles along the way in addition to some bad angles. So it’s not just the scheme in that case but really bad execution on top of it. Shoop’s predecessor was fired for much more than the Florida play – it was a season of incompetence in both scheme and tackling.

          By the way, we don’t need a Hail Mary vs. Georgia if our DB doesn’t assume (as they did in the Florida game AGAIN) that the QB can’t throw it that far. Georgia’s QB hit a 50 yarder over our guy’s head. Florida goes for 60+ over our heads. It’s the SEC guys – assume the QB has an arm.

  • Here’s our weekly update of the Vols’ statistical rankings, after the Florida game.

    Offensive observations: The offensive line still seems to be doing a good job of protecting the quarterback. First down, […]

    • I love this series of articles.
      Here’s some additional data just compared to our conference:
      John Kelly:
      #1 in total rush yards (349) (PS that’s ~116 yards per game!)
      #1 in Rush TDs (5)
      #1 RB reception yds (191)
      #10 player recep. yds (191)
      #2 RB yds per reception (11.94)
      #2 player in total receptions (16)
      T-3 player in total points (30)
      Conclusion: JK is a total stud.

      Callaway:
      #2 in yds per reception (24.75)
      T-3 in TDs (3)
      #9 in Reception Yds (198)

      Team Offense
      #6 in total yards (1206)
      #4 in pass yds (715)
      #4 in points (104)
      #3 in yards per rush (5.34)

      Defense
      Bituli is #1 in tackles (33)
      Warrior is T-6th tackles (25)
      McDowell and Jumper are # 10 (24)

      Want some ugly numbers?
      Defense: yards allowed per play: UT is tied with Florida for the bottom of the league! T-13th with a whopping 5.95 yards per play.

      Lastly, scoring defense (adjusted to remove special teams points and picks/fumbles for points, ie. pure defense let them score how much?):
      We are 12th in the SEC allowing opponents to score 9 tds on us. (6 on the ground, 3 in the air).

  • The injury bug has turned into more of an epidemic around the Tennessee football program over the past two years.

    After two of the Vols’ most important players — middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and […]

    • Hey Brad, good analysis and perspective. You have to put your best football players on the field. Especially on defense in this era of offense. You have to have guys who can make up for the many times that you find yourself out of optimum position. Bituli and Sapp are 2 of those guys. Those 2 plus Gaulden, Wiggins, Warrior and occasionally Martin give us a very dynamic 2nd and 3rd level.

    • Very good article Brad Shepherd. Hope Jones reads it.

  • Butch Jones spoke to the media at his weekly press conference earlier this afternoon. After reiterating that he was disappointed in the loss and commenting that the team’s will to win was derailed by details, he […]

    • Folks want Jones to break out from his talking points to be real. The opening to that quote is real.

    • Pete replied 3 days ago

      Maybe you buried the lead… Did he say anything about resigning or an upcoming meeting with AD Currie or interim Coach Hoke?

    • I’m pissed Butch has not read this book yet

    • I’m still fully behind Butch for now. This team still has a lot to play for. If we can avoid further injuries, 9-3 is still a real possibility. I think that would be great considering the NFL talent we lost and the breaking in of so many new starters. We were bound to lose a game or two like this under the circumstances. It hurts for several reasons, but let’s put it behind us and get back to work. Nothing is gained from wallowing in this. UMass, here we come. 3-1 after Saturday.

      • ” 9-3 is still a real possibility”

        You honestly think with Georgia/Bama/LSU/South Carolina/Kentucky and yes Vandy we are only going to lose just 2 more times?

        Reality is this is at best this is a 7 win team.

        We used to put 10 people in the pros every year and still win 10 games ( check out the 90’s and early 00’s)

        Stop making excuses.

        Butch is way over his head.

        • I didn’t say I think we are only going to lose two more times. I said, as you quoted, “9-3 is still a real possibility.” Georgia is good but not unbeatable, and we get them at home, Alabama will throttle us, LSU just lost to Mississippi State 37-7, South Carolina just lost to Kentucky 23-13 and lost their best player for the season in the process, Kentucky has not looked very good, and Vandy is looking better than expected but is still very beatable. Only one of those is a certain loss, but all the rest are at least winnable games. Thus, again, “9-3 is still a real POSSIBILITY.” Plenty left to play for.

  • Butch Jones is scheduled to have his weekly press conference at noon. You can watch it here, and we’ll keep notes in the comment section as he goes.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Dm0MBlnhm4

    • Will to win gave us an opportunity but our details did not.

    • Red zone efficiency not good; turnovers.

    • I’m responsible, I can promise you we’ll get to work to make corrections.

    • Lot of football left to play.

    • We cannot and will not ignore the details it takes to play winning football.

    • Don’t anticipate TKJ being back right now.

      Yes, we all hurt, we’re pissed, but now it’s what you make of it. How do you become better? It can galvanize you, it can bring you closer together as a football team. We have to get back and go to work; it’s part of being a mature football team.

    • Details will not be ignored.

    • AT what point do you give Jarrett a look?

      The QB is always a byproduct of individuals around him. Way too many missed assignments around the perimeter.

    • OL got stronger sa game went on; conditioning became a factor. JK is becoming the face of leadership of our football program.

    • Got some younger players some valuable repetitions.

    • Q: McDowell, also played nickel a lot.

      McDowell is out for the year with a wrist injury; pretty much same as Jauan. We’ll miss him.

      Re nickel, it’s about personnel; RG is our starting nickel and one of our best players on defense and need him on the field as much as possible.

    • Q: What went wrong Saturday? What was going right before that’s not going right now?

      A: Nothing different; we’re doing the same things. It’s the details. Make no mistake; expectation is to win every single week.

    • Q: JK, are you okay with the exuberance and the penalty?

      A: No, passion is JK’s edge; he does a great job. It was heat of the moment, but we spoke about it. He said, “I can’t do that. I hurt the team.” He makes a great play, but now he’s putting the team in a challenging situation. But it was JK who said first that he screwed up.

    • First and goal on the 1, we had a run play called. We would have liked to run the football there. We need to run the football. [more details here; need to listen again]

      • So this is Butch trying to walk the line between honestly answering the question and also protecting Dormady. It was supposed to be a run but Dormady checked to a pass. That’s interesting. It takes a little of the heat off of Scott for failing to call a run there. (granted it was a shotgun run, but those can be very successful). It’s just unlucky that QD gets hurt there and they didn’t trust JG under center. Then the false start. etc….
        Also interesting, what Butch was saying about their defensive alignment on that play. Going back and watching (granted I’d assume the blocking scheme shifted once Dormady audibles out of run) but the fellow that hurts QD’s knee would have absolutely destroyed a run on that play.

        • That was the feeling I got. It also doesn’t explain not running at all on their last drive. Sigh.

          • Which was killing me while I watched at home. I was yelling “Run the Ball!” (again). Again, the dropped Kelly pass was a killer, but still, run the ball three times and if you don’t score, kick the FG. You burn clock and/or force UF to use timeouts. Imagine that last drive without the possibility of a UF timeout to set up the field goal. Might that have changed our defensive scheme in anticipation of their last play? I dunno, but it might have.

    • Bituli’s going to grow more and more into his position.

    • Q: Did any players come in Sunday, did you get to see how the team’s doing?
      A: All players were in the building yesterday, which was great to see. They’re hurt, but they understand what’s at stake and that it’s a long football season. There’s natural adversity; need mental toughness and competitive attitude. Have to forget about it and move on. Feel sorry for yourself, but when you report back to work, need to get to work. There are some positive things that we can continue to build upon. We’ll be better for it. We have to move on.

    • Q: Shaq Wiggins has looked visibly frustrated.
      A: His status is the same; he’s working to compete for playing time. From meetings to practice field, Saturdays. We spoke with him again. He just wants to play. We expect him to compete today.

    • Q: Tyler Byrd? Couldn’t play a dime, why?
      A: Byrd, him misisng a week set him back; I expect him to be mroe actively involved offensively. He was in yesterday watching film.

      Dime, there’s so much that goes into it. . . . They had one TO, 9 seconds to go; talented FG kicker. They were going to try to throw a dig in the middle and kick a game-winning field goal. Similar to 2015. We let the QB escape the pocket; when he bought time, anything can happen.

    • Q: Details, when you watched the last seires, what was your takeaway?
      A: We wanted to get a TD; 1st down, we’d practiced that all week and had it set up. We were ready for it, but didn’t execute it. 2nd, we’d tried to get it to our playmakers. We knew we were in FG range. Worst case, we go to OT.

    • Q: Safety?
      A: We need to grow and develop depth there. Micah and Nigel had to play every snap; they also have large roles on ST; we need to move some players around and have some guys step up. At S and at LB.

    • Q: Short yardage, struggle. What was that? Schemes and formations, or what?
      A: Jauan is also out for season. CM is also out for season.

      Short yardage: we didn’t pick up movement on the front very well. Will be a point of emphasis this week.

    • Q: Sapp, and also LB?
      A: Sapp’s worked really hard to get back from injury. DB is still a young player continuing to learn, don’t want mind to tie the feet up. He’s very talented and playing well, his role will continue to grow with absence of CM.

  • Matt became a registered member 3 days, 3 hours ago

  •  

    Just when you’re reeling and out of air from the gut-punch of the Florida game, Mississippi State makes things interesting in the SEC East. Here’s our weekly update of expectations for the season based both […]

    • Good points made Joel.
      I’ve been trying to communicate that same message about the final play to my friends. How upset would we have been had we done a hail mary defense and they throw a quick fifteen and out and kick the game winning field goal? The issue there was failure of execution (and what to my eye was a clear hold on Kongbo to spring their QB).
      I’ve said it before, TN is so unbelievably good at beating themselves. We were the more capable team Saturday but we failed to execute. Kelly, for as great of a game as he had, dropped the go ahead TD. Josh Palmer drops a TD in the endzone and runs a goofy slant that results in a pick in the endzone. There is no excuse for calling a pass play on first and goal from the one on the road with a young QB and untested backup. Scott should have learned that doing that creates issues. Run the ball there, we probably score. Don’t run and you risk a turn over, or, as it happened, a QB injury forcing a new signal caller to step into the noise of the endzone and bam, false start. But, for all the grief Scott earned for play calling in the red zone, it is only fair to acknowledge that some of those pass plays actually work if not for the sudden butter fingers of our pass “catchers”.
      Still, I agree with you, barring a collapse of confidence or the inability of coaches and players to learn from mistakes, I’m generally slightly encouraged by what our team was able to accomplish on the field. Coming back from a hole, running and throwing all over a “vaunted” Florida defense. These things are good.
      Special teams were not good. That’s concerning. Fortunately, we get UGA at home so we can reenter the world of SEC football in a more friendly environment.

      • Yep. We should have run. I’m not sure what to make of it yet, but we apparently did have a run play called, and either the QB audibled or it was some kind of RPO or something that caused the QB to throw based on the coverage presented or something. I don’t pretend to know enough about football to know. I’m reminded of that every time I hear Erik Ainge start talking about what a trained quarterback sees when he looks at the defense. I don’t even know the language.

    • And what do all these stats show us? The Vols under Butch this year are a 6-6 team in the making

      • If we’re 6-6 at the end of the year . . . well, I don’t know what I’ll say. But until then, I’m going to pretend that we’re 2-1. Oh, wait. 🙂

        • If things go as the odds suggest the next 2 weeks…we’ll be 6-6 in our last 12 regular season games.

          Womp wooooomp.

    • Here’s my problem. All of the good things that you pointed out are true, absolutely 100% true. They have been true after each and every heartbreaking loss that we have had in the last 4+ years. Every game that we should have won, but didn’t the positives were true. So my problem is, I have lost all faith in CBJ to be able to take us to the next level. Yes Scott called the plays in the red zone. But you would think that with the game on the line, CBJ would have radioed up and said “hey we are killing them on the ground, call run plays, the 4 passes down here last time didn’t work.” That didn’t happen. Everyone watching the game on that last trip inside the 5 knew we should be running the ball, Butch knew we should be running the ball, the BALL knew we should be running the ball. But we didn’t. I think CBJ coaches scared. He is scared to lose and therefore pushes this team into losses that should be wins. You have to coach with confidence. You have to coach like you are the better team, even when you aren’t the better team. You coach that way. That’s in any sport, not just football. You would think that after we have these games over and over and over, he would learn something from them, but it just does not appear that he has. That’s why other than UMass, I have every game the rest of the year as a 50/50 toss up game or worse. Because I now believe that CBJ is the great equalizer. He can make us equal to every inferior opponent we play (and UF was inferior to us Saturday), and that makes any game we play a toss up. I hate to be negative, but that’s how I feel right now. At the very worst, we should be on a 3 game win streak against UF and instead we are 1 and 2 with a better team each year.

      • It should be a 4-game winning streak…in the 10-9 loss in 2014, we gave away points with poor play-calling and execution in the red zone and gifted Florida points with a turnover.

        That sounds vaguely familiar…

      • I hear you. I feel you. We should have run to win the game, and even I (a guy who doesn’t know the language) am on record with a comment before it all happened that I thought we should give the ball to John Kelly when we set up shop with the time winding down. We didn’t. And then some other things went wrong, too, and we lost.

        I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that Jones coaches scared, though. I actually think that if you’re timid and afraid of bad things happening, that you’re actually more likely to run the ball than throw three times down there. But he’s been the guy in charge during a lot of heartbreak, certainly.

        What I’m thinking right now is that we’re still learning to shed some of the crap we’ve had to deal with in the recent past. I said on the podcast last week that my theory on why the Gators seem to continue beating the Vols even as they’re getting worse and we’re getting better is because confidence is slow. You gain it slow, and you lose it slow. The Gators aren’t good, but they don’t know it yet; they still think they’re as good as they used to be, and that confidence actually enables them do some good things on the field that they probably shouldn’t be able to do. On the other hand, the Vols are still learning confidence, and not having that swagger yet sometimes shows up on the field, too, in negative ways. It even happens with the fan base, and whenever adversity strikes, we immediately default to thinking the worst. We forget that we just flat out beat the Gators last year. That we beat Georgia last year. That we’ve done all of the things that Jones likes to remind us of because we don’t want to hear it when we’re hurting. Instead, one bad thing happens, and all of that stuff from the past ten years comes rushing back and that’s what we focus on. I think the only thing that’s going to get that tide turned back is just to have more of the good and less of the bad, and that Florida game was a bad step in the wrong direction. Let’s call it two steps back because of the gravity of the past.

        But it doesn’t mean they can’t take a step forward. They can. Whether it’s something you can see and whether we acknowledge it are the questions. The real problem, I think, is that even if the team is actually better and improving and making progress, they’re still not as good as Georgia is this year. A loss to them, and the gravity will just suck us all into a black hole at that point. I don’t think that it should, because I think Georgia’s just a better team this year, but the gravity is real. I keep trying to see things for the way they are without the baggage of the recent past, but it is getting more and more difficult.

    • If you want to feel a little better about UT going forward this season, just watch John Kelly’s highlight reel from that game:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ioP_lk128I

      • That stiff arm with 3:18 left in the game was just brutal. You know whoever the Florida player was on that play is going to take some ribbing all week after they review film.

    • I think one of the most critical questions for this team we didn’t really get a convincing answer to against Florida: do we have corners capable of playing at an SEC level? When we face teams with better passing games than the Gators, which may no joke be the rest of the schedule, how will we fare in coverage?

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  • Congratulations to UNDirish60, who finished first in this week’s Gameday on Rocky Top Pick ‘Em Pool. UNDirish60 went 15-5 with 185 confidence points and wins a free Gameday on Rocky Top t-shirt from our custom […]

  • In this week’s Guessing Game, nothing happens in the first round thanks to a fumbled thunderbolt, and Sam takes sole possession of the lead by a nose.

    The full play-by-play is below. This week’s questions will […]

  • There are plenty of numbers to support the growing narrative of Tennessee’s offense:  the Vols again fell behind by two possessions, again rallied, and again should have won. Had they pulled it off in Gainesville […]

    • I think it’s because when trailing in the fourth the staff call plays because at that point we have nothing else to lose. If we would see them call such aggressive plays throughout the entire game then possibly we wouldn’t have to play from behind.

      • This is what I’ve been wondering too. It would take a lot more analysis but someone who actually knows football (aka not me) to determine if the play calling is substantially different from 1-3 to 4th quarter, and if that change is only in the games where we trail. The latter part can be analyzed a little more simply. Do our 4th quarter offensive numbers dramatically differ between games that are blow outs, games where we have a competitive lead, and games where we are trailing. I don’t know where to find that level of data though. The above link only provides game by game OR situational, not situation + game by game.

        The alternative is TN runs a game plan that ramps up the intensity, wears down the opponent, maybe establishes tendencies so that we can deviate for big plays late, and perhaps is good at half time adjustments? Hard to say whether the 4th quarter bump is the result of desperation (as you suggest) or strategy. Will, do you know if the necessary stats exist to reveal whether we have nice 4th quarters vs non-comeback situations?

        • I don’t know of a free site that has that data available. It can be researched from drive charts a couple of places with a little more legwork; if the opportunity presents itself I may follow up on that.

    • It takes them 3 quarters to realize that Dormady cant run the read option something the opponents know from the get go

  • I’ll still be posting the recap of what happened with Tennessee and its past and future opponents tomorrow as usual along with my own updated win probabilities, but I wanted to provide y’all an early opportunity […]

    • I’ve moved from 9 win expectation to 7 wins. In game coaching cost us one game that we should have won. I expect one more of these golden eggs to be laid before season’s end. Disclaimer: I moved from CBJ is doing enough on the recruiting front to keep him into the Fire Butch in the middle of the season camp.

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