Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tennessee vs California

Don't you hate it when there is a great article on ESPN but it is only for Insiders... good thing for you we know how to cut and paste.

Tennessee at California Matchups
QB RB WR OL DL LB DB ST Coach Overall

Tennessee Offense vs. Cal Defense
The Vols got a scare in the offseason when QB Erik Ainge missed most of the spring after having knee surgery, but he has shown almost no effects of the injury during summer camp. Ainge made significant strides under first-year coordinator David Cutcliffe in 2006 and he should be even more polished as a senior this fall. Ainge displays good mobility for his size and he has a strong arm to fit the ball into tight spots in coverage. However, gone are Ainge's top-three receivers from last season, including first-round draft pick Robert Meachem (Saints). Without those veteran receivers to rely upon, Ainge's margin for error will be much smaller. He still has a reliable target in TE Chris Brown, who is the team's leading returning receiver with 31 receptions in 2006. However, if the Vols are to keep the Bears' defense honest, Ainge needs help from his inexperienced wide outs. So far, junior Lucas Taylor, sophomore Quintin Hancock and sophomore Austin Rogers are the three most promising at the position. Taylor is the speedster who can stretch the field, Hancock is the bigger possession target and Rogers is the most athletic, but also the least polished, after missing most of last season due to injury and illness. Cal will certainly miss the playmaking skills of third-round NFL draft pick Daymeion Hughes at cornerback, but Syd'Quan Thompson returns as a solid starter on one side and there are a lot of talented youngsters competing for the other starting cornerback job. The unit also returns Robert Peele, who emerged as a playmaker at the Rover position last season and can also play some cornerback if necessary.
Tennessee vs. California

Tennessee vs. Cal

When: Sept. 1, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Where: Berkeley, Calif.
Tennessee needs to improve a run game that ranked 10th in the SEC and 96th nationally last season. Without suspended RB LaMarcus Coker the burden falls on Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty. Hardesty had a 43-yard touchdown run versus Cal a year ago and Foster led the team with 69 yards in that game. Cal's defense only returns four starters from last season's disappointing group. The Bears run a traditional 4-3 scheme that requires its linebackers to be the focus. MLB Worrell Williams moves inside after playing on the weak-side last season. He has the size and toughness to keep Foster and Hardesty in check between the tackles. However, Williams and DT Matt Malele, a 335-pound run plugger, are the only returning starters along the front seven, which means the Bears could be extremely vulnerable to the perimeter run game. On the road versus a high powered offense and with an inexperienced receiver group, Tennessee must exploit this weakness in order to pull off the win. Cal Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
Like the rest of the Cal team, QB Nate Longshore's 2006 Knoxville visit was a forgettable one. But in his own backyard with 12 more starts under his belt, it will take a lot more for the Vols to rattle Longshore this time around. Cal's 6-foot-5 junior signal caller shed nearly 15 pounds in the offseason, which will give him more agility to sidestep pass rushers from within the pocket. And with time to survey the field and step into his throws, few quarterbacks in college football can shred a defense with Longshore's precision. It also helps to be equipped with one of the nation's deepest and most talented wide receiver corps. Longshore's top weapon is DeSean Jackson, the most dangerous open-field runner in the country. Jackson is complemented well by No. 2 WR Robert Jordan, No. 3 WR Lavelle Hawkins and TE Craig Stevens.
Jonathan Hefney is a versatile playmaker with experience at cornerback and safety. He is likely to spend most of his time at safety in this game, but don't be surprised if the Vols use him occasionally to match up one-on-one versus Jackson. Tennessee is breaking in new starters at the other three defensive back spots, which places a great deal of pressure on the front four to establish a consistent pass rush on its own. While the Vols have some talent returning along their defensive line, the group's ability to rush the passer is very much an unknown at this point. Defensive ends Xavier Mitchell and Antonio Reynolds had huge springs, but the pair combined for only five sacks last season. Tennessee could run four-deep at defensive tackle with Dan Williams, Demonte Bolden, J.T. Mapu and Walter Fisher, but Bolden and Fisher are coming off injuries and Mapu is coming off a two-year Mormon mission. RB Justin Forsett is an undersized but shifty back with very good vision as a runner and hands as a receiver. While he should put up some big numbers in Cal's offense this season, we think he will have some trouble getting untracked in his first game as the team's fulltime starter now that Marshawn Lynch (Bills) is gone to the NFL. The Vols had some problems stopping the run last season but they should be much improved in that regard this fall. The front line is bigger and should be stouter versus the run, which should allow the playmaking linebacker trio of Jerod Mayo, Ryan Karl and Rico McCoy to flow freely to the football. Mayo is the leader of the group at middle linebacker and he's fast and instinctive enough to limit Forsett's big plays. McCoy is only a sophomore, but he showed tremendous potential in his first season and he's athletic enough to keep with Forsett when he releases as a receiver out of the backfield.

Special Teams
Key individual matchup

Cal QB Nate Longshore vs. Tennessee DS Jonathan Hefney
Longshore's biggest challenge will be accounting for the whereabouts of Hefney, the Vols' returning leader in total tackles and interceptions. What the 5-foot-9, 185-pound roaming defensive back lacks in size, he more than makes up for with speed, athleticism, instincts and toughness. A year ago, Hefney was crafty enough to keep Longshore guessing and Longshore wasn't patient enough to ignore the bait. But the Jeff Tedford protégé has made lots of progress since last season's opener and he should show far more poise the second time around. Hefney will spend a majority of his time sliding over in deep-coverage support to limit the big-play potential of Longshore's most dangerous weapon, WR Jackson. When that's the case, Longshore will have plenty of real estate on the opposite side to utilize complementary receiver's Robert Jordan and Lavelle Hawkins. Eventually, Longshore will catch the Vols gambling with Hefney cheated up near the line in run support. That's when the deep ball will open up with Jackson exploiting rare man-to-man coverage. With three new secondary starters being broken in around him, Hefney may simply be outnumbered.
Cal has a decided edge on special teams in this game. Senior PK Tom Schneider is on track to become Cal's all-time leading scorer and Andrew Larson is an upper-echelon punter who averaged 42.6 yards per attempt in 2006. Jackson emerged as the nation's most dangerous punt returner last season with an average of 20.4 yards per attempt, including four that he took to the house. Forsett and Hawkins are expected to handle most of the kickoffs.
The good news for Tennessee is that PT Britton Colquitt ranks among the elite returning starters at his position in college football. Colquitt averaged 44.9 yards per punt last season and limited Jackson to only 16 yards on three returns. The other good news for Vols' fans is that Hefney is a punt return weapon in his own right. He finished 2006 ranked 33rd nationally with an average of more than 12 yards per punt return. But the kicking game and kick return game are not as pleasant. Colquitt will continue to handle kickoffs in addition to being asked to fill the void of departed James Wilhoit as the team's place kicker. It will be interesting to see how long Colquitt's leg holds up. Finally, the Vols ranked last in the SEC and 117th nationally in kickoff returns. Foster could be called on to handle kicks, as could a speedy freshman like Eric Berry.

Scouts' Edge
Tennessee enters this contest with a mental edge after dispensing Cal in a 35-18 smackdown in Knoxville last season. One year later, the Vols do the honors of traveling cross-country for a tough season-opening nonconference tilt. While Neyland Stadium is in a class of its own, the Bears will certainly enjoy the comforts of Memorial Stadium while seeking revenge for last year's embarrassing defeat.
The key to last year's game was Tennessee jumping out to an early lead. Once it did, Cal's offense was forced to abort the running game, which put too much pressure on the inexperienced Longshore. But a lot has changed in one year. Ainge no longer has WR Robert Meachem to rely upon and Longshore is far more capable of carrying the Cal offense if necessary. In fact, the game's biggest playmaker is now Cal's Jackson, who is a threat as a receiver and as a punt return specialist. The Bears' inexperienced defense will keep Tennessee within striking distance deep into the fourth quarter. However, we do anticipate Tedford's team evening the score in a Week 1 game with major national implications.

Prediction: Golden Bears 28, Volunteers 24


Trumanhugh said...

I haven't seen this, yet...I'm surprised they think Fulmer is a better coach than Tedford. And QB?! I realize this was done before yet another Aingury, but who are his targets? They got it right when saying that his margin for error will be much smaller.

They got the eventual outcome right, too.

Jim Lee said...

Final score:

Tennessee 28

California 13

Anonymous said...

There is no way that outcome would ever happen, Jim Lee, especially with your star players either injured (a broken PINKY?!) or suspended.

No matter who wins (Cal), it will be a hell of a lot closer-matched game from beginning to end.

I love the uber-confidence the Vol fans have. It will be SO MUCH FUN to see their faces as we are all walking back to our cars after a hard-fought CAL VICTORY!

I promise to show you as much kindness and class as you all showed us at Neyland a year ago. We are gracious winners at Cal, very mindful of all that went into it.

Read the comments on a post a few before this one. It talks about expectations and letdown. It will be a good primer for Vol Nation.

milo said...

Yeah the match-up grid is a little wacky. Fulmer better then Tedford? I don't think so. Fulmer under-utilizes his players while Tedford gets the best out his.

Ainge is marginally better then Longshore but Longshore has the better receivers so I call it a draw.

Cal 28 -- Tenn 24, seems about right (it's the spread).

I have a feeling however the score might resemble Cal vs. Oregon in '06, but no I'm not willing to wager on it.

Anonymous said...

I think jim lee's got it right- It doesn't matter that Tennessee doesn't have star power-who are the stars at Cal anyway? Tennessee's 2nd and 3rd team could give Cal a run for its money. Also, Fulmer not better than Tedford? How many National Championships does Tedford have? How many conference championships in that creamp-uff leauge? You guys should get out of talking football and do what Cal people do best- smoking dope and being queer. Final score: Tennesee 38 Cal 14.

dano said...

Fulmer better then Tedford?

T o-line better than Cal o-line?

most of these comparisons are retarded, you know, since the offensive lines don't actually play one another? matchups do matter.

i expect a good game ... it is opening day which typically involves some slop ... still, T has had some problems with injuries and routine Fulmer Cup incidents - seems like Coker has an affinity for the ganj (in case you're reading from T, that means he likes "dope")

despite missing Marshawn, our offense will be better this year ... the defense is hungry ... our Bears our ready to roll

jim lee should stick to pushing the latest mobile homes ... hey, i've been there ... but i do appreciate his well detailed insight

i will have no hard feelings about being a total prick to the T fans ... my friend was THREATENED by 4 men last year ... the sunday after the game ... IN KNOXVILLE ... in a wafflehouse ... WITH steak KNIVES ... you dumb white trash CUNTS


Anonymous said...

7:51 a.m.anonymous

"Who are the stars at Cal anyway?" Are you serious? Unless you have never turned on your TV, opened a sports magazine, read a newpaper, or listened to a radio, even I, a diehard Vol, have heard of DeSean Jackson (WR), Nate Longshore (QB), thier special teams is rated the best in the country and last year's BACKUP RB Justin Forsett has run somethinjavascript:void(0)g like 1700 yards in two seasons! They have lots of big time playmakers.

They are no match for us, even with a broken pinkie AInge will pull it off no problem, but don't kid yourself in thinking they don't have some serious good players.

Tennessee 35
Cal 30

Tim said...

Thank you for sanity, 12:45 pm anonymous.

7:51 am anonymous - check out this page if you actually think that Cal has no stars:

Jackson has returned 5 punts for touchdowns in 26 attempts. That's a CRAZY stat - the current leader, Ted Ginn Jr (you've heard of him, right???) has one more in 64 attempts.