Will Shelton

  • Earlier this week we all went a few rounds on Tennessee’s non-conference scheduling habits; I argued if you don’t want to schedule the likes of Oklahoma but you don’t want to schedule the likes of Kansas, the Vols […]

    • To be a big boy, you gotta play the big boys.

      Overall, I think the non-conference schedule should be pretty much balanced. We should keep having a marquee game most years and one cupcake, hopefully with at least an ounce of respectability. You have to have the marquee to not only get respect around the country, but to appeal to the committee choosing the playoffs (I realize this is looking way ahead), and to test your own team.

      Finally a pair of middle-of-the-road types. Ones that the Vols should expect to beat most times as long as the Vols play a decent game. But enough threat that if the Vols play poorly they could definitely lose. Or that rare flukey game where the Vols play alright but the other team plays perfect and wins. That just right amount of a threat.

    • Personally I wouldn’t mind playing a Kansas, Oregon State or an Illinois instead of an FCS team every year. You get a second Power 5 non conference game with the difficulty of a mid major. Deceiving, but it would appear a lot better on paper.

  • So John Adams lit the familiar off-season flame of non-conference scheduling today, arguing the Vols shouldn’t be scheduling the likes of Oklahoma┬áin the future. The Sooners are back for a home-and-home in Norman […]

  • In this year’s Gameday on Rocky Top preseason magazine, I wrote a narrative review of Jeremy Pruitt’s defenses at Florida State, Georgia, and Alabama. The numbers from Tallahassee and Tuscaloosa represent a […]

  • Jason Witten is retiring after 15 years with the Dallas Cowboys. The former Vol will be neither gone or forgotten:

    Breaking: Jason Witten is retiring from the Cowboys and joining ESPN as an analyst for Monday […]

  • You never have to apologize for a Boyz II Men reference.

    Also, that’s a 75% blue chip ratio among incoming freshman in 2019. Great start, no panic.

  • I seem to recall a handful of stories about Kirby Smart being surprised at some cultural things in Athens in year one because he was used to Alabama/Saban.

  • If tomorrow’s game actually is a 1’s vs 1’s, 2’s vs 2’s situation, the release of the rosters today may tell us more about how Jeremy Pruitt’s first team will look than the actual Orange & White Game itself:
    🍊 OR […]

  • It helps that my overall expectations are higher than they could have been in the midst of the Schiano/Currie situation. I think the low points from both mid-2011 and the middle of last year, when it was just blatantly apparent that we weren’t very good (in part due to injury) were lower than preseason expectations are right now. But it might also…[Read more]

  • Setting a reasonable expectation is never easy in college football, especially in a new coach’s first year. For Jeremy Pruitt, five wins would be a literal improvement; six and a bowl berth would probably earn a […]

    • Competitiveness without feeling like we let wins escape us. That’s a difference from the last regime I want as well. The teams were often competitive but absolutely collapsed late losing games they should have won (I’m looking at you OU and UF especially).

      If we’re competitive in most games and make a bowl game, I think that’s a successful season. No matter the result of the bowl game beyond competitive again.

      I’d be pretty happy if a 7-5 regular season mark was achieved. I don’t think that mark is impossible, but I recognize it won’t necessarily be easy

      • Some betting site just put out their SEC O/Us and had the Vols at 5.5, which feels…about right?

        We already know they’re sizable underdogs to WVU. Taking a loss there would require 3 SEC wins to get to a bowl game, and after going 0-8 in conference last year, it’s hard to look at any one game and say, “Oh, yeah, the Vols should absolutely win that.”

        I’d settle for a) seeing development from individual players who were around last year, b) feeling like there is a cohesive strategy on both sides of the ball, and c) not getting run off the field by teams with objectively less talent (Mizzou, Vandy).

        • 5 seems to be a reasonable number to me too. I look at the schedule and three frankly gimme games plus hopefully a couple of games from Vandy, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina are about all I can reasonably hope for. It saddens me that I am honestly “hopeful” that we win 5 games but that is the state of the program.

          The good news for Pruitt is my expectations are the lowest they have ever been. They have all the room in the world to pleasantly surprise me. I am still looking forward to football season no matter what.

          • I think that’s an interesting question, and one that probably breaks down somewhat along generational lines…have you ever had less hope/fewer expectations for UT football than you do right now?

            I was born in 1986 and came of age during the crazy run in the 90s, so I’ve almost always had hope. 2013 is possibly the only other season where I had equally low expectations.

            • It helps that my overall expectations are higher than they could have been in the midst of the Schiano/Currie situation. I think the low points from both mid-2011 and the middle of last year, when it was just blatantly apparent that we weren’t very good (in part due to injury) were lower than preseason expectations are right now. But it might also become blatantly apparent that we’re not very good even earlier this fall.

              • You do bring up a good point. Taken in the context of how “the search” went it could have been worse. *shudders*

            • For me it is the low point. I was born in ’72 so I remember much of Majors and was really becoming a die hard fan when Fulmer was hired.

              I think what makes this the low point for me is the historic lows we hit last year. Not only did we lose to every SEC team on our schedule last year but we also have less returning production (combined offensive and defensive ) than every SEC team on our schedule.

              I think we will be better this year because of better coaching and hopefully less injuries. The question in my mind is how much. In light of the recent bad taste from the Kiffin/Dooley/Jones trifecta one more win than the worst season in UT history is all I am willing to hope for next year.

  • 2017-18 saw the deepest SEC of all-time, with eight NCAA Tournament teams breaking the old conference record of six. The championship banner Tennessee and Auburn will hang is the greatest testament to the quality […]

  • Good stuff. I think a big component of this is lineups/minutes.

    Tennessee’s two most frequent combos, in-game and in closing time, were Bone/Turner/Bowden/Admiral/Williams, or against better post teams, Bowden/Admiral/Williams/Alexander and one of the point guards. Without James Daniel to provide some relief next year (nearly 20 minutes per…[Read more]

  • Earlier this week Dylan took a look at how Tennessee might adapt its offensive philosophy next season. It’s a great question: should the Vols continue to rely on their physicality and inside presence, or look to […]

    • As with most things in life, I think the answer is…it depends ­čśŤ

      The question is ultimately one of efficiency and usage, and we’re trying to determine where the inflection point is at which the Vols should eschew some tough 2s for additional 3s.

      The dirty secret of the Vols’ offense this year is that they weren’t very good inside the arc: their 47.3% was 293rd in the country. That’s not good, and it’s actually been something of an issue under Barnes (16-17: 46.4%, 295th; 15-16: 47.4%, 242nd). I would imagine that’s a product of a couple of things.

      One, at least anecdotally (and a shot chart would help confirm or deny), the offense involves quite a bit of mid-range game. Think about Moore/Punter/Hubbs in 15-16 (43% on 9.2 2PA, 52% on 8.8 2PA, and 49% on 7.9 2PA), Hubbs in 16-17 (49% on 10.6 2PA), or Williams this year (50% on 10.3 2PA). Those shots just aren’t very efficient.

      Two, as players get asked to do more, their efficiency generally drops. Grant took 3 more shots per game this year, and his shooting percentage fell both inside and outside the arc (precipitously). Admiral was actually a bit of an exception as he kept his percentages flat while taking 5 more shots per game. And then the real flip side is Alexander, who took ~1 more shot per game, but bumped his 2P% from 49% to 68%.

      And Alexander’s example is key…if you’re going to run a true Daryl Morey-style NBA offense, you’re trying to shoot 3s (preferably from the corner) and layups/dunks. Again, without seeing a breakdown, I’m going to assume Alexander got more layups and dunks this year than last. So the question is, can you turn more 49% elbow jumpers into 70% layups? Can you turn more 45% turnarounds into 35% 3s?

      I think the Vols CAN do that, but it would require something of a philosophical shift or a leap from some players. The Vols don’t run a ton of pick-and-roll, but would they if Bone and/or Turner become a real threat to get to the basket, throw lobs to a diving big, or hit Bowden/Schofield for a corner 3 when the defense collapses? Can Bowden develop a drive/slash game that enables the same thing (he, Bone, and Turner were all 39%-40% on 2s and that’s just not good enough)?

      We don’t have to be Villanova (59% on 2PA, 40% on 3PA), but an offense that took out some blah 2s and replaced them with blah 3s would be a bit more explosive and give the Vols a higher ceiling.

      • Good stuff, Gavin.

      • Good stuff. I think a big component of this is lineups/minutes.

        Tennessee’s two most frequent combos, in-game and in closing time, were Bone/Turner/Bowden/Admiral/Williams, or against better post teams, Bowden/Admiral/Williams/Alexander and one of the point guards. Without James Daniel to provide some relief next year (nearly 20 minutes per game this year), will they go to Bowden and Turner as more of a Bobby Maze/Melvin Goins situation where the two aren’t on the floor much together?

        Derrick Walker played 8.8 minutes per game. I think that’s easily going up. But Alexander still only played 20.3 minutes per game. Will we make an intentional effort to get him involved more? If so, you’re almost automatically taking better outside shooting minutes off the floor. And who’s going to win the Yves Pons/Jalen Johnson struggle for minutes behind Bowden/Schofield at the 3? Teeny tiny sample size, but those two were 5-of-9 from the arc combined this year.

        Lots of ways to slice it, and Barnes is right when he said good chemistry one year doesn’t automatically lead to good chemistry the next year. But I still think the clearest room to grow is a more productive inside game from Alexander/Walker, which might mean even fewer threes but even better looks.

  • When you play close games, you put your heart out there to be broken. We can argue about the match-up and whether this game should have been this close, but too much of that does a disservice to Loyola-Chicago, […]

    • HT replied 2 months ago

      I’ve already talked myself into this loss being an inspiration for next year’s team. I really enjoyed watching this team play and am excited about their future. Good luck to JD3 and let’s win the whole damned thing for him next year.

    • I feel like the older I get, the better I am at appreciating the complexities of sports outcomes.

      On the one hand, yes, it’s easy to look at what the Vols achieved this year with a roster that will return almost intact next year and project additional development. With the at least outside possibility that a dynamic, 5* player could be added to said intact roster, we should all be really excited about next year. Williams should improve his range, Bowden should get better at creating off the bounce, etc.

      On the other hand, development is rarely linear. The Vols won’t sneak up on anybody next year, and may have absolutely maximized their talent/luck this year (there were no major injuries to a starter until Alexander against Loyola). LSU (!), Kentucky, Vanderbilt (!), and Mississippi State (!) are all in the top 10 of next year’s recruiting rankings, so the league isn’t going to take a step back.

      And it’s that duality that makes it so tough to be a sports fan. Yes, we should all be proud of what the Vols accomplished this year; I certainly enjoyed watching them play almost every night out. I never would’ve expected them to be in this position when the season began. But given that they did reach this point, it’s tough not be disappointed with missing out on a chance to play Wright State, Loyola-Chicago, and Nevada on the way to a potential Elite 8 game against a team we’ve beaten twice. In Atlanta. In front of a lot of Vols fans.


  • Sister Jean says she prays about the referees. Respect.

  • When the at-large bids came to an end on the 11 line, the selection committee chose San Diego State and Loyola-Chicago as the top remaining automatic qualifiers. The Aztecs carry some recent tournament history. […]

  • The Vols missed their first six shots in the first three minutes, a few nerves showing their face in Dallas, perhaps. But in those same three minutes, Wright State went 0-for-3 and turned it over twice. Then the […]

  • What has grown since November comes to an end in March. While there will be only one champion, the entire field can hope for a moment. Just one moment to lead to the chance to make just one more. The last days of […]

  • Wright State comes in 135th in KenPom; that’s the lowest 14 seed and lower than two 15 seeds. Since opening with Presbyterian and High Point, the Vols have only played two teams with a lower KenPom rating: Mercer […]

    • Great write up, as always. This should be a 20 point win. Less than double digits would be a danger sign and a big disappointment. While this team has had spurts in games where we’ve under-performed badly, we still manage to win the games that we should win. Let’s hope those droughts are behind us as we should be more mature now.

    • Hopefully this will be the start of another six game winning streak! ­čÖé

    • I’d like to see the guys put this one away early and the bench in there for some tournament action. No sense getting the “Admiral” and Grant beat up. May need more bench down the stretch in some of the “ugly” games that may be coming in the later rounds. Go Vols!!

    • My concerns for Thursday are: an early start, a tight team, and a somewhat slow game that increases variance.

      The Vols were not good in the SECT opener, and this game is at a weird time of day. You thought the team felt the pressure opening the SECT? Ratchet that up a notch or twelve for the NCAAT. And then both Wright State and UT play slower tempos and focus on defense. If the game becomes ponderous, one hot streak may make a huge difference.

      All that said, the Vols should win going away on Thursday…but a nervous first half would not surprise me at all.

  • A thrilling comeback made for a thrilling game, but Kentucky used a pair of offensive rebounds to turn a 62-61 Tennessee lead with five minutes to play into an advantage they would never relinquish. Jordan Bone’s […]

    • Still proud of this team and all of their accomplishments. Seeing Schofield and Williams go down today just make me relieved they’re okay. Maybe a loss isn’t the worse thing for the team. The pressure is off on from the winning streak and they can start a new one in the NCAA tourney. Another six game winning streak would be enough this time.

  • It’s definitely helpful for learning how not to start a big game like this.

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