In today’s Vols link roundup, we’re tapping the brakes on expectations for the offensive line, looking objectively at the third consecutive preseason Top 25 for the Vols, and noting that nobody knows what to think about Tennessee this season.
Consider the brakes tapped on the offensive line
We’ve been saying since we published the magazine back in May that the offensive line was one of the main reasons to believe in this team this fall. But fall camp is essentially over now, and you haven’t really heard much, if any, praise about the unit from coaches or reporters. If anything, the news has tended on the negative side, what with the season-ending injuries to Chance Hall and K’Rojhn Calbert and three other key guys reportedly missing time during camp for unspecified minor injuries.
Butch Jones is apparently concerned, having left Monday’s practice this week a wee bit frustrated:
“We have to have the discipline to execute, football is too hard of a game as it is, from the technical aspect, to fundamentals, efforts, techniques, [and] winning your one-on-one matchups,” Jones said, “let alone a team that jumps offsides, a team that doesn’t take care of the football, a team that doesn’t snap the ball well.
“All those things, it comes down to the disciple to execute, having that ability.”
Not only that, but one of the takeaways from this GoVols247 roundtable about what their reporters have learned during preseason camp is that we may have been expecting too much out of the offensive line. When the guys who are not charged with winning but with reporting are beginning to wonder, it might be time to break out the sideways eyes.
I sincerely hope those guys are an absolute strength of the team this year, but I have to admit that I’ve transitioned a bit from belief to hope.
Vols in the Top 25 again
Tennessee is in the preseason AP Poll for the third year in a row, albeit barely at No. 25. That makes three consecutive seasons now that the Vols have started the season in the Top 25, something that hasn’t happened in nine years.
And yeah, when you hear Tennessee officials say that they are one of only 10 teams to have been ranked for three years straight, you chalk it up to PR, but look at the other nine teams:
- Ohio State (1, 6, 2)
- Alabama (3,1, 1)
- Florida State (10, 4, 3)
- Georgia (9, 18,15
- Southern California (8, 20, 4)
- Clemson (12, 2, 5)
- LSU (14, 5, 13)
- Oklahoma (19, 3, 7
- Stanford (21, 8, 14)
That’s pretty good company, and I think it shows that the Vols are at least building some consistency. Now to focus on the Top 10 instead of the Top 25.
- You know it’s Football Time in Tennessee when Will rolls out the Idiot Optimist’s Guide and when you can turn on the radio at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights to hear Vol Calls at Calhoun’s on the River.
- Also on tonight is the SEC Network’s Vols Football Season preview. It’s on at 8:00 p.m. as well, so set your DVRs.
- SB Nation has released its 2017 Blue-Chip Ratio post, identifying the 10 teams that are candidates to win the national title based on the ratio of 4- and 5-star recruits on a team to the other players on the team. Tennessee, by the way, is mentioned as a “Blue-Chip Ratio Riser.” The Vols will need another class or two to make the list.
- Vols defensive back Justin Martin has learned that you shouldn’t always say everything you’re thinking. If that’s true, he’s learned something most of humanity has not.
- Freshman running back Tim Jordan has earned the removal of his black helmet stripe.
- Did you know that Vols wide receiver Brandon Johnson is the son of MLB catcher Charles Johnson? Well, know you do.
- If you’ve ever wanted to try walking on to the football team, here’s everything you need to know. It’s not everything you need, just everything you need to know.
- The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between the Vols and Georgia Tech is sold out, as is Tennessee’s home game against Georgia on September 30. There are still some tickets left for the home-opener against Indiana State and the home game against LSU on November 18.
- Coach Jones says that he’s not hung up on the term “starters,” saying instead that he wants multiple starters at every position. Really, this is just another way to drive home the competitive depth point. You’d better have a good Plan B, because it’s going to become Plan A at some point, probably sooner rather than later and likely when you least want it to happen.
- Transfer cornerback Shaq Wiggins has apparently missed a “number of days” due to a hip injury. They’re hoping to get him back soon.
- The Knoxville News Sentinel has a feature breaking down Tennessee’s secondary and is giving safety Nigel Warrior the leading role in the story. KNS also puts the defense on notice, saying that no matter how much better it might be, it’s going to go up against some really good offenses this fall.
- Something called The Undefeated has translated college football’s opening weekend matchups into Marvel comics, which is worth a look.
- Look, nobody knows what to think about Tennessee this year. CBSSports can’t even agree with itself, as they have listed Tennessee as both under- and over-rated.
- So, don’t be too concerned about Matt Stinkbomb from the SEC Network predicting that the front will fall off in the back end of the season again for the Vols this fall and that they’ll go 6-6.