Gameday Today: the Josh Palmer fan club, and Christmas at SB Nation

Happy eclipse day. We’re starting up the Josh Palmer Fan Club, hoping for a healthy Darrin Kirkland Jr., and opening gifts from SB Nation, all in this morning’s Vols’ link roundup.

You’re about to become a huge fan of Josh Palmer

If you read just one thing today, make it this piece by Mike Griffith on new receiver Josh Palmer. Go read the whole thing.

You’ve heard a somewhat surprising amount of praise from the coaches about the guy already, but man, the dude is MOTIVATED. His dad used to crank up the treadmill and then throw him footballs, medicine balls, and tennis balls. When he realized that his prospects were somewhat limited by his residence in Canada, he left home and enrolled at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, spending four hours each day in the public transportation system to get back and forth. And after his first season netted three catches for 30 yards, he didn’t give up and go home; he doubled down on cliched positivity and had a breakout season the following year.

When that pays off for that guy, I’m going to be there cheering.

The importance of Darrin Kirkland Jr.

247Sports continues its list of the most important players for the Vols this fall with an extended look at Kirkland, whom they rank at No. 3. Keeping the dude on the field is absolutely crucial. In our post ranking the Vols’ defensive players who have to stay healthy, Kirkland tied for first with Cortez McDowell.

And this information from 247 drives the point home:

“The three games for which [Kirkland] was the healthiest count as Tennessee’s best defensive performances of 2016.”

Those three games were Appalachian State, Virginia Tech, and Nebraska, which may not sound like it should persuade you of the argument, but VT and App State were statistically the fourth- and fifth-best offenses Tennessee played last year. Alabama, Texas A&M, and Missouri were 1-3.

Kirkland has to stay healthy. The team needs him.

It’s like Christmas, and SB Nation is Santa for the day

The front page of most national outlets is mostly junk these days, but opening up the SB Nation front page this morning was like walking downstairs on Christmas morning and finding about five different presents you wanted to spend the entire day with. Here are the links:

That last link really makes you want to get in the car right now and drive to see the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. And we’ll be seeing it a lot, as they not only host the Vols-Yellow Jackets on opening weekend, they also have the Alabama-Florida State game, the SEC Championship, the Peach Bowl, and the National Championship. Oh, and they’ll have the 2019 Super Bowl and the 2020 Final Four as well. All that, and $2 hot dogs.

Quick hits

  • As we posted late last night, wide receiver Josh Smith apparently injured his collarbone in practice yesterday. Jimmy Hyams tweets that he’ll be out 4-8 weeks. That’s at least through Florida on September 16 and probably through South Carolina on October 14. Speedy recovery, Josh.
  • Everybody’s pretty hush-hush on any real differences between the offense last year under Mike DeBord and this year under Larry Scott. But offensive lineman Brett Kendrick did contrast DeBord being “a little more laid-back” with Scott being “in our face”, so there’s that.
  • Speaking of Scott, he has to win the award for fewest words ever spoken by a new offensive coordinator. Think about it. How much have you heard him say since he got the job? Well, one way to get him talking is to ask him about anonymous sources calling his players soft. This article from 247 is basically 70% an extended quote from Scott on the subject. The gist of the whole thing is this: Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man, and anyway, aren’t we all trying to become tougher?

  • Is Tennessee Punter U? VFL punters currently in the NFL include Britton Colquitt, Dustin Colquitt, Matt Darr, and Michael Palardy. And Trevor Daniel is likely to join them next season.
  • It’s looking like the starting lineup for the offensive line is about to be settled. Drew Richmond at left tackle, Brett Kendrick at right tackle, and Trey Smith at right guard. What’s still up in the air at this point is left guard and center. Jashon Robertson will take one of those spots, and the other is a competition between Coleman Thomas, Jack Jones, and Venzell Boulware.
  • This piece from SEC Country makes it sound like Georgia Tech has some sort of hangup about people thinking their offense is “just about the triple option.” It reminds me of someone trying to convince me that vanilla ice cream is awesome. It’s not just vanilla, dude. It’s vanilla and ice and sugar. And cream!
  • Gridiron Now lists their Top 20 SEC games of the 2017 season, and Tennessee has four of the Top 15. High five to GN, too, for not making this a 20-click slideshow, which I never would have survived.
  • This quote from Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen about Butch Jones made me smile: “Butch to me is like McDonald’s,” Thigpen said. “He doesn’t change. That foundation is set, and it’s what makes him him, the fact that he holds everyone accountable. From coaches to players to trainers, there is not much that he doesn’t notice. If there is something on the wall, a piece of paper on the floor, a guy off the back side not hustling, he notices. That’s who he is: He’s going to hold everyone to the highest standards. So when you say, ‘How has he changed?’ he hasn’t changed.”

VFLs

Alvin Kamara ran for a 50-yard touchdown yesterday on his very first carry:

https://twitter.com/saints/status/899423950240751616

Justin Hunter, who is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, also scored a TD yesterday:

https://twitter.com/Steel_Curtain4/status/899402915961610240

News was not so good for Derek Barnett, who’s reportedly going to miss some practice time due to an unspecified lower body injury. Nor for Jason Croom, who was waived by the Buffalo Bills after his own injury.

Speaking of Vols in the NFL, Vince Ferrara has compiled a list of them, along with their current pecking order on the team.

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