Monday, October 09, 2006
Mid-Season Report Card
Quarterback - Ainge has been everything a few of us knew he would be, and much more than most people thought he could be (Trent, Bob?). He has been poised under pressure. He has been able to take the short passes when nothing else iis available. He has avoided the rush to step up and hit the open received. Three times he has been named the SEC Player of the Week and at least twice he has been named the National Player of the Week. Finally, after the UGA game, Bob Flewis will admit that he was wrong and that Ainge is playing great. Rob, glad to see you can finally admit when you are wrong................and you WERE wrong. Add to that, I was right and you have one big fat "I Told You So" from Lloyd Braun. Once again Rob, I TOLD YOU SO. A+ Running backs - Hardesty and Coker have each shown flashes of brilliance, and Foster came through in a big way against UGA. I am not going to fault the running backs for the poor performace against the Gators. The O-Line was really bad. B- Wide Receivers - Meachem has all of a sudden turned into the best receiver in football. Swain has been deadly, and Smith came through in the clutch against the Dawgs. I think this is the best group in the country and it's not even close. A+ Fullbacks - Horrible, I guess you could say useless. F Offnsive Line - Not as athletic as usual. Physically underwhelming. I am not going to profess to be some kind of offensive line expert, but I know the Gators ate this group for lunch. However, Ainge had all day to throw in the 2nd half against UGA and for that you have to give this group some well-deserved credit. Considering who we lost last year, I am going to give this group a slightly higher grade than you might expect just for being resiliant. C+ Tight Ends - Who cares? All I know is I saw Cottam drop an easy catch against UGA. C- Punter - Has made some very good punts and some very average punts. For a Colquitt, an average performance. C Kicker - Wilhoit is clutch. I would give him a much higher grade, but you cannot miss extra points like the one missed against UGA. His perfectly places kickoffs that pinned UGA deep a few times in the 2nd half cannot overcome the missed extra point and the incomprehensible out-of-bounds kickoff that gave Florida possession at the 35 to start the game winning drive. This is going to sound harsh.......C- Defensive Line - This is tough. The group is nowhere near as talented as last year. Then take away Harrell and this is a very average group at best. I tend to grade based on what I know they are capable of, so I am going to go easy on these guys. The talent dropoff at DT is by far the most drastic on the team, so I will give them a B for effort.....B Linebacker - I have been very impressed with Mitchell and Ryan Karl. Once again, I am no linebacker expert by any means. I know that Karl was a heat seeking missle against Cal. Mitchell just looks the part (I have no idea how he plays)..........I am going to throw out a lower grade than might be expected however, simply due to the fact that we have had too many 3rd and long conversions and too many long runs against us..........C+ Secondary - The 3rd and long stuff is simply insane, but I blame a lack of pressure. Wade came up huge against UGA and for the most part I think this group has played well.........B- Kickoff/Punt Coverage - If we would have lost to UGA because of the two returns, I very well may have been calling for Fulmer's head. Pitiful does not describe it at all. It is humiliating and a disgrace and (like I said) nearly constitutes a firing offense in my opinion. Why this staff cannot put a competent punt and kickoff coverage team on the field is beyond the scope of my limited football knowledge. All I know is that top ten teams do not cover punts and kickoffs like we do................................F- Coaching: Head Coach - Fulmer needs a wake up call on special teams. For that alone I am lowering his grade an entire point. However, you have to give him credit for putting a stellar staff in place. He also has set the proper tone for this football team and this program. I admire the man for turning things around the way he has. He is the perfect head coach for Tennessee and I am proud to have him. His special teams are an embarassment to the entire world................B Offensive Coordinator - How can anyone argue? In my opinion, the turnaround at Tennessee is at least as dramatic as the turnaround last year for Notre Dame. Look at Erik Ainge. Look at Swain and Meachem, Smith too. If we had an athletic offensive line, we are ranked in the top 2 and steaming towards a National Title game. Bets of all, we hung 50 on UGA at their place.....A+ Receivers - I give Trooper Taylor hell for his chest bumping. But it is time to give the man some credit. I think the Volkwesters that call for him to be OC if Cutcliffe leaves, well they are clearly insane. He is not on that level at all yet. But he has taken the worst part of our team last year and turned them into the most dangerous group in the nation. I have no choice but to admit.....A+ Running Backs - I think our backs have played hard and compliment each other well. Coker is pure speed, Foster is power, and Hardestry is a hybrid. All have played major roles in our success and I have a feeling is we had a better line we would be talking about this group the same way we are talking about Meachem, Smith, and Swain. The uproar when Roper was hired last year was simply ridiculous............................B- O-Line - I think they are playing hard, I just don't think they are very talented. And the ones that are talented are just very young. Sears is obviously the cream of the crop. Adkins has probably done as good as you could expect with Frogg and Friends. And don't underestimate how much time they gave Ainge in the 2nd half at Georgia against (supposedly) the nation's "stingiest" defense....................B- Tight Ends - Who cares?...............C- Defensive Coordinator - Chavis is killing me. I think this is likely his poorest performance in a while. I realize the talent dropoff from last year was ginormous, but you CANNOT allow third and long to be an automatic pickup for the other team. Why is there ZERO pressure on third down? Air Force also ate his lunch......... C- Secondary - An admirable performance in my opinion, even without Inky. Morley makes an amazing amount of mistakes back there. Wade deserves more praise. Stewart has also played well............... B- D-line - I admire a guy like Matt McGlothlin. He is obviously a hard-nosed tough guy who gives his all. He is also not on the same talent planet as Mahelona, Harrell, etc. My point is that we need talent in the D-Line. I am not going to be harsh on Dan Brooks because we know he is superb..........................C+ Ends - Decent..............C- OVERALL...............B+. Very good grade for mid-season 2006. I am pleased.