In today’s Vols link roundup, we wonder whether playing Georgia Tech is a good idea, celebrate with Shawn Shamburger, and catch up with Mike Gundy, who’s reportedly no longer 40.
Should we be playing Georgia Tech at all?
This should not be news to anyone except those who are just now emerging from their football hibernation, but the Vols opening opponent this year is Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets play that nasty cut-blocking, triple-option, hide-the-football style of offense that flummoxes opponents and is hard on the lower extremities of prized defensive linemen. Sure, history shows that having extra time to prepare makes it easier, and Dave Hart did us a favor by insisting that the Vols only play the Yellow Jackets in a season-opener, but there are perils afoot.
Joe Rexrode of USA Today/KNS says that maybe we shouldn’t be playing the game anyway. A few compelling quotes:
“. . . the question of whether this game was worth it will be asked 12 days later if the Vols don’t win at Florida. By necessity, Georgia Tech has taken up a chunk of the preseason time that would have been spent on global defensive construction.
“It’s a game you don’t play if you don’t have to play it. By the time camp ends and the Vols get to the start of their first game week on Aug. 28, Shoop said four days will have been spent solely on Georgia Tech. He’s sprinkling in looks from other teams on the schedule as well, as he always does, but the flexbone demands devotion.
“It is misdirection and cut blocks and deception and cut blocks and the occasional play-action bomb, followed by a few more cut blocks.
“The cut block is a big element, and we’ve worked a lot on that,” said Shoop, who can’t relish the idea of blockers diving at his guys’ knees all night, after losing so many of his key guys to injury in 2016.”
Um, yeah. What about all that? Folks will not only be embracing hindsight if the Vols don’t beat Florida, they’ll be asking questions immediately if we lose a d-tackle in the opener. And just how much time does it really take away from preparation for the SEC games that matter more?
I’m guessing, though, that four days in the grand scheme of things isn’t an over-investment in GT prep. It’s not that much more than a regular game-week prep, so four days doesn’t sound like “too much.” Plus, you can probably make up some ground the following week by transitioning immediately to Florida and assuming you’re already ready enough for Indiana State. If you can’t beat the Sycamores with a vanilla Florida game plan, you have bigger problems.
So, as long as nobody gets hurt, it’s probably fine.
Nobody get hurt, okay?
Flying side bump to freshman cornerback Shawn Shamburger, who had his black helmet stripe removed Wednesday evening. According to Micah Abernathy, he and fellow freshman Cheyenne Labruzza are both “always trying to get ahead of the older guys, so they’ll both be good.”
And there’s also this bit of news that has made me giddy this morning:
“In terms of Shawn Shamburger, he’s an individual who’s really stepped up in the last few practices,” Jones said. “He’s really made his presence known at the corner position. The other night, I really liked the way he filled in run support. We challenged him with some deep balls, and he was able to play the ball in the air and find the blind spot, which we talk about, with turning your head in coverage.“
Emphasis mine, because oh, how we longed for a DB to turn around last fall.
- Normally positive Butch Jones sounded positively mopey after the last scrimmage, saying that, “We have a long way to go, and it’s just the overall discipline to execute,” and that “we have to get a lot better in a hurry . . . .” It’s like the man put on an Eeyore tail for five minutes and then tapped out a tweet with his hooves. Yeah, not really a fan of a tweet from the head coach posting the schedule and saying, “GOOD LUCK.” Seriously, I’m hoping that was an intern or something.
- Jones did recover and find his way back onto the Energy Bus, though, mentioning several freshmen that have impressed him, including linebacker Will Ignont, tight end LaTrell Bumphus, safety Theo Jackson, and receiver Josh Palmer.
- It sounds like the offensive line is finally getting enough guys together at once to embark on phase II, which is getting them to play as a unit. The o-line should be a strength of the team from a depth perspective, but it does seem like it’s taking a bit too long to really get rolling, doesn’t it?
- Running backs coach Robert Gillespie plans to set his running back rotation “within the next two weeks,” which is probably a good thing with the season-opener like two weeks away.
- What about those suspension rumors? Jones ain’t talking, which I’m taking as bad news we’ll hear about later. Hope I’m wrong.
- Does Georgia Tech dismissing its leading rusher from last year change anything for the Vols? Not according to Jones, who reminds us that they were 3-0 without the guy last year and that you don’t really play Georgia Tech’s guys as much as you play Paul Johnson’s system anyway. Huh. Sounds vaguely familiar somehow.
- Will the Vols offense be drastically different under new coordinator Larry Scott? One word: Nope.
- I thoroughly enjoyed this trip down memory lane, right from the moment I read the title: Mike Gundy Is a Man, He’s 50, and He’s Aware of His Lasting Legacy. I didn’t enjoy as much the realization that I, too, was a man and 40 back in 2007 and the implications of that today. Where’s my Eeyore tail?