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Posted: Monday, November 23rd, 2015, 6:03 AM
We start off on this Monday with Orange Throat.

Orange Throat
'Random musings as we celebrate a big road win at Missouri.

BUTCH MANAGING GAMES BETTER: Saturday night was a great example of Butch learning how to win in the SEC. It was clear from the jump that we were a superior team. Maybe it was the weather and the result of all of the drama over the last couple of weeks, but neither the Missouri team or crowd had much juice, and our Vols established superiority methodically and consistently. Of course, we had the usual Josh Dobbs' passing mistakes but none ended up in the hands of the Mizzou defenders. Dobbs ran well at times, especially with a crucial TD before the half and Jalen Hurd was at his beastly best. John Jancek's defense absolutely smothered the Tiger offense, which was especially meek in the first half. PK Aaron Medley was 4 of 5 and this game was never in doubt. The second half crowd looked like everyone ended their hunger strike and went to McDonald's.

DEFENSE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OFFENSE: Florida is 100th in the country in total offense and 80th in scoring, but the Gators are 6th in the NCAA in total defense and 3rd in scoring defense and are representing the East in the SEC Championship game. Our Volunteers have steadily ascended the national defensive rankings after playing against the likes of Bowling Green, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and the development of players like true freshman LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. has been important. Also, never fail to acknowledge the work of DL coach Steve Stripling. He has sustained the loss of hybrid Curt Maggitt and freshman DT Shy Tuttle and has a patchwork group playing at a high level.

THUNDERING HURD: Sophomore Hurd bulled his way for 151 yards on 34 carries at Mizzou, and built his season rushing total to 1038. He is certain to be called upon early and often at home against Vanderbilt this Saturday. Tennessee's recruiting will undoubtedly reflect the likelihood that this talented kid goes to the NFL at the end of his junior year.

WACKY WORLD OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL: As of this writing on Sunday, there are growing signs that Les Miles might be out at LSU. Even if that doesn't happen, there is going to be huge movement in the coaching ranks this year. There are already a number of Power 5 Conference jobs open and more will happen. The right kind of stability is a huge asset in these times. The right kind starts with the head coach and then involves coordinators and top position coaches and recruiters. I don't think Jones is going anywhere, even though he was singed by the criticism after the Oklahoma and Florida games. His roster is too good and he loves the players he has recruited.

The elephant in the room is the passing part of Josh Dobbs' game. Tennessee is one of the few major programs in the country with a graduate assistant (Nick Sheridan) as a QB coach. This is because OC Mike DeBord is an offensive line guy. It is hard to make the case that Dobbs has improved this year as a passer. There are legitimate questions inside the program as to if Dobbs can win the SEC East and the league championship as QB next year. Freshman QB Quinten Dormady is a star in the making as a passer but is not a classic rushing QB and smart people around the program think he will transfer in the offseason. This would leave RS-Freshman Sheriron Jones or true freshman Jarrett Guarantano as the backup next year. It certainly looks like Dobbs will be the starter next year and the question remains if his passing game can be improved.

WEATHER MIGHT BAIL OUT HART: The early forecast for this Saturday's home finale with Vandy calls for rain, which would be perfect cover for Dave Hart's bungling of the field situation at Neyland Stadium. After a road game last week, the condition of the field will take on more urgent discussion this week. Tennessee is clearly better than Vandy, but the Commodores have been spunky on defense and usually play with great energy against the Vols. A bad turf, which is almost unavoidable given the condition of the field the past month, favors the Commodores. A rainy day would give Hart an excuse.

Orange Throat'

Click to Cazzy's Corner Grill
Throaty...Great stuff as usual. When I think about Saturday night's effort by the Vols it was the most complete effort and perhaps the most impressive victory in Butch Jones' two plus years. Considering the spot, the place the cold the defense and Tennessee's propensity to not close out games on the road, Saturday was a real step forward for this program. The deal coming into that game turned out to be that Mizzou couldn't affect that football game offensively versus Tennessee's defense unless aided by Tennessee's offense. This turned out to be a picture perfect read by UT's staff. They managed that game perfectly as far as I'm concerned. I loved seeing Hurd lead the Vols on the ground as Tennessee POUNDED them on at times in that cold weather. The air was out of the balloon early with the interception around midfield. Ordinarily I'm not a big fan of settling for field goals but in this case it was well played indeed. A 9-0 lead felt like a 21-0 lead most nights. That game felt over way before halftime.

My only criticism (and it's a minor one) is with Butch Jones attempting to draw Mizzou offside on 4th and 5 before the 4th field goal attempt. Bottom line is, on a cold night, I'm not going to ice my kicker. In fact, I'm going to stick with the game plan knowing that points are at a premium and trot Medley out there and kick that field goal. And then I would've done it again if presented with the same scenario. Bottom line is that the Vols were far superior to Mizzou. This was a ray of light effort for the Vols. Tennessee seemed like an elite level SEC football team with the effortless way they won that game against a Missouri team with a ton to play for. I loved the plan, purpose and execution by Tennessee in every phase of Saturday's game. For this reason it was easily the most impressive win of the Butch Jones era. It seems like great times are certainly ahead.

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2015 Schedule
Bowling Green*
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@ Florida
@ Alabama
@ Kentucky
South Carolina
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@ Missouri
* Nashville, TN
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To the people at LSU, I would issue one warning....Be careful what you wish for. They could do a whole lot worse than Les Miles. It's hard to believe how quickly this month has unraveled there. Just yesterday, LSU was thought to be a legitimate candidate for the playoffs. They lost to Bema and the rest of the season is history. LSU was outclassed against Ole Miss on Saturday. They just couldn't execute in that game on either side of the ball. They look like a beaten bunch and Les Miles seems out of time. It's too bad. He's one of the few guys in the league not afraid to say what's on his mind. Plus he's a damn good recruiter.

When $15 million is a buyout that can be navigated you know fiscal insanity has overtaken major college football. The finances of major college football jumped the shark a long time ago but these days EVERYBODY is getting in on the act. When Houston and Memphis are talking about paying football coaches north of $3 million per year this is getting downright silly. That Houston and Memphis would even consider this is telling on the marketplace for coaches. The day of getting your guy easily at an SEC school isn't as easy as it once was. There are whispers that Jumbo Fisher would be interested in the LSU job, but what if he isn't? Has Herman proven enough? Can Fuentes’s offense win in this league?

This forthcoming silly season is going to be all-time great. USC, Texas, Miami, LSU and Val Tech could all be open. Look at Miami. There were heavy reports last night that they are on the verge of going all in on Lane Kiffin. Has Lane Kiffin ever deserved any job he's gotten? That guy is a pathological mess but AD's keep projecting greatness on him. The pool of candidates is shallow indeed.

It all makes me say to LSU whoa big boy. Be careful what you wish for. We have seen here in Knoxville what blowing out a legendary coach absent of plan can do to destabilize a program. And one false move in this league can mean a lost decade.

On the field Saturday...The SEC about got what it deserved. The conference has NO BUSINESS playing buy games in November. The league it's self up for embarrassment. There's no way Georgia's kids can get fully invested in playing Georgia Southern in the midst of an SEC campaign. Nor should Florida be expected to rise to the occasion of facing FAU. South Carolina losing to the Citadel is a beautiful thing! Hey SEC, play 9 conference games already and cut out this non-sense.

I understand that Andre Ware has a job to do on the SEC Network but it sure would've been nice at the end of that Florida/FAU game if he could've been more candid. FAU was jobbed not once but TWICE by non pass interference calls in the end zone. Critical non calls there as FAU was only down 6 at the time. This means a TD and extra point would've meant sudden death for Florida. After the second dubious no call, Ware said 'the officials are letting them play.' Ah no Andre. They weren't letting them play, they were swallowing their whistles. Tell the truth man. Come on. Talk about a paid sheep.

Brought to you on Thursdays by

'Noon tip didn't help matters for this bunch yesterday.

Vols up 19 w 5 min & change in first half and lost lead 57 55 w 10:25 in game.

Vols were 5-15 from foul line while Gardner Webb climbed back in. Nothing was going right that stretch of putrid hoops.

Vols got ATTACKED inside by Gardner Webb during the comeback, including some defensive breakdowns.

Baukman. 2 straight 3's made lead 62-57. He was 6-7 from 3's on day.

23 assists on 32 made baskets is a GREAT sign.

Keith Hatfield made a great point in that Tennessee must get better on defense or Army will beat them tomorrow we don't even want to think about what GW will do to them Friday night.

Two great stretches of college basketball sandwiched by some horrible hoops. Assist Keith Hatfield.'

Tee Mail:

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'1) Great to meet you, introduce my boys, and put a face to the name. It was a great time of fun, fellowship, and football.

2) I meant to say last night that Cazzy's was a really great location and that like a total knucklehead, I didn't think to call ahead and make reservations. Duh. I almost didn't get in there. We literally got the last table and we showed up right at 6 PM. Note to the listeners: Make reservations.

3) If this keeps up, Tone, you're going to need a bigger place to do watch parties. And that would be a great thing. Woot!

4) "State Run radio." I like the term as applied to the Vol Radio Network postgame show. Pravda, comrade. Pravda. In Russian, Pravda means truth. Izvestiya means news. In the old USSR, they used to have a saying that there's no pravda in Izvestiya and no izvestiya in Pravda. (No truth in "News" and no news in "Truth.") Word. This is why I enjoy reading your blog and tuning in when I can. I know that I will get some real people who are for the most part unfiltered and will tell it like it is because they're not being paid to do otherwise. I meant to say in person and on the air how much I appreciate what you guys do. It really is tremendous work and it's much appreciated.

5) I noticed the Tone-mobile outside. Awesome. The first thought I had was of The Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers. Once again, down to earth and real folks.

6) "Let them play" = "Look the other way." That's my motto, make it yours. When I hear that phrase from now on, I'm going to think of the 'Rasslin referee in a tag team match. It always works out that he gets onto one particular wrestler and turns his back to the action. When he does, that guy's partner gets pounded by both halves of the other tag team. There's probably a short, simple term to describe all of that, but since I don't watch enough 'rasslin, I don't know that term. But I know it when I see it and that's what "letting them play" means to me. I'll tell you what else it means. It means running scoring plays with no time on the play clock. Again. And again. It means touchdown receptions that are "possessed" for 0.01 seconds. It means never having to answer an unpleasant question about when you knew of a player on PEDs. Like I told you earlier this week, poor teams buy recruits and eventually get caught. Rich teams buy the police and stay out of trouble. Tell me this isn't the case. Tell me that I'm not seeing-that we're not seeing what we are all seeing and keep on seeing every week with this Florida team.

It was nice to be right about Mizzou. They really did look kind of flat. The sugar rush wore off last week. And for beating Pinkel, when you can take the home finale from a guy who is retiring with 191 wins, you keep the football and frame it. It doesn't matter that his team is 5-5 coming in. A shutout would have been nice, but they are rare. I'm with you 100 large on this being a huge win in the Butch Jones resume. It doesn't look like it on paper, but when you consider the other factors, distractions, and the way UT has played in recent weeks, it looks very good.

Now it's Vandy time. The Commode-doors came close last year against Tennessee thanks to a host of injuries. They won't get that close this year. Tennessee is feeling it and they're going to take care of business against these guys. I just hope that 1 week off was enough to heal the field. By the way, that could be a great rallying cry for the turf. HEAL THE FIELD!

...And another thing.

What an unexpected treat to meet T-Rob at Cazzy's. I only wish I had done my homework beforehand and read the Wikipedia page on him.

Holy. Snap!

What a story!! And all I got to do was shake his hand and introduce my boyos.

The undersized kid passed over by the hometown school on the rise in FSU, the success at Tennessee, his place in the record books, the destruction of Bo and Auburn, the SI cover, the Sugar Vols, the awful injury and arrest he went through, The Replacements, the win over Dallas in 1987, the continuing problems, and the recovery and restoration. What a story is wrapped up in that guy.

All it needs is the standard theme of "battling deep-seated racism at The University of Tennessee", and it's an ESPN 30 for 30 smash hit. It's a shame that all they seem to be interested in are poop swastikas.

Maybe a little 1980's music for the soundtrack, some side commentary from Johnny Majors, perhaps a little John Ward, a little segue to the present day with him running through the T, the mentoring with Joshua Dobbs. I can see all kinds of great stuff in a film like that. Just need an orange blooded Tennessee guy to make it. Kenny Chesney need not apply.

Eric S.
UT '95

Eric! Great meeting you and your great looking family. You're a blessed man. We really had a wonderful time Saturday. It's fun to win one of those! I hate that anybody go turned away. We're going to look at ways to address this. I'm touched. What can I say? I personally HATE that anyone that wanted to be in the house Saturday wasn't able to do so. I had no idea we could ever have a crowd like that. 'X' sent me an e-mail on Sunday sharing how even he couldn't get in.

I do appreciate your kind words about my everyday approach to doing things like this with the common fan. My take has ALWAYS been that the only difference between me and you the listener/reader is that I have the microphone. It doesn't make me any better but it does make me blessed. And this is a blessing I don't take lightly.

Final thought...Saturday we were ALL Michigan State fans!!!



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