Tag Archives: Evan Berry

The Sunday Morning Notebook: Afternoon Edition

Please pardon my tardiness and please enjoy this week’s notebook.


Clemson Escapes Tallahassee

Deandre Francois did exactly what a quarterback can’t do on a fourth down with the game on the line – he took a sack.  That turnover on downs secured a 37-34 victory for Clemson to help the Tigers stay undefeated on the season.

Week-by-week, Deshaun Watson’s Heisman hopes continue to waiver.  His performances have been excellent, but his solid and consistent numbers are not staggering enough to earn him consideration for the award.

Last week, Watson’s performance was only average by Heisman standards (378 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, 35 rushing yards and a touchdown).  Yesterday, Watson completed 27 of 43 passes for 378 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.  He also rushed for 52 yards.

Watson still doesn’t stack up to Lamar Jackson. Jackson has thrown for more yards and a higher passer rating. They’ve also thrown the same amount of touchdowns.
We can officially count Watson out for the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.


  • Florida State’s final drive was possibly the worst final, comeback-attempt drive a top 25 team has ever had.
    • The drive started on FSU 21-yard line.
    • The first two plays each resulted in a first down.  A third-down holding penalty on the fifth play of the drive created a third and 23 from FSU’s 40 yard-line, but Francois completed a 26-yard pass to Travis Rudolph for the first down on the Clemson 34, which should have set up a game-tying field goal.
    • However, two different FSU linemen moved early on consecutive plays, pushing the Seminoles back ten yards and out of field goal range.  Francois threw consecutive incompletions, then took a sack on 3rd and 20.  After an FSU timeout, Francois took another sack on 4th and 32.
    • To recap: Florida State committed three penalties for -20 yards and gave up two sacks for -33 yards, including one on fourth down that ended their attempt to tie or win the game.
  • Dalvin Cook has been outstanding.  Cook rushed 19 times for 169 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, including this 70 yard TD run.  After three sub-100 yard games to start the season, Cook has averaged 168.2 rushing yards and nearly two rushing touchdowns per game. He’s 5th in the nation in rushing yards and 10th in touchdowns.
  • Clemson should cruise through the rest of its regular season schedule with matchups against Syracuse, Pitt, Wake Forest and South Carolina remaining.


Washington Remains Unbeaten

Washington may be the most balanced team in the country.  Jake Browning is a solid passer/decision maker and Myles Gaskin is electric (he averages 6.5 yards per carry).  At the same time, the Huskies’ defense has been stout, helping the team win games by an average of 30.4 points per game.

Browning passed for 186 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, and Gaskin rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Utah’s effort should not go unnoticed, however.  Quarterback Troy Williams threw for 163 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.  Joe Williams carried the ball 35 times for 17 yards and a touchdown.  24 points are the second most points any team has scored on Washington all season.

Utah’s defense also held the Huskies’ offense to its fewest point total of the season.


  • It’s very likely that the Utes and Huskies meet each other again in the Pac-12 championship game.  Utah is currently second, behind Colorado, in the Pac-12 South.  The two will meet in the last week of the season, which will likely decide the South champion.
  • Washington is tied with Washington State for first place in the North.  Washington will play Cal, USC, and Arizona State before a match-up with Washington State during the last week of the season, which could very well decide the North champion.


Cornhuskers Can’t Complete Comeback 

Many would consider Nebraska and Wisconsin to be the Big Ten’s third and fourth best teams. They surely played like it yesterday, as Wisconsin staved off a Nebraska comeback to beat the ‘Huskers 23-17 in overtime.

This was a defensive battle as neither team was able to get much going on the offensive end.  The only impressive offensive performance of the day came from Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale.  Ogunbowale rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (10.9 YPC).


  • Nebraska still controls its own destiny in the Big Ten west.  It is currently ahead of Wisconsin with a 4-1 mark in the conference, but the Cornhuskers still have Ohio State to get through.  Wisconsin has a much more favorable remaining schedule (Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota).


Other Notes:

-Jimbo Fisher wasn’t happy with the referees.

-Les Miles really wants a new job.

-Boise State lost to the only team that can pull off a brown and yellow uniform combo.

Evan Berry is very fast

-Texas probably has no idea what to do with Charlie Strong. Just when it seems Strong will be axed, he wins a game like yesterday’s upset of Baylor.

-Notre Dame upset Miami but somehow still looked bad.


E-mail Evan at evan [dot] skilliter [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Photo: Flickr, Phil Roeder

The Tennessee Vols Will Keep Snatching Souls on their Way to Being SEC East Champs

Last Friday, I picked the Tennessee Vols to beat Florida…well, actually I said they would “WTFA.” That turned out to be true. Over a month ago, three of us here at Campus Pressbox (including myself), picked the Vols to win the SEC East. And before that, I even wrote an article listing some pretty major reasons why the Vols would win the SEC East this year. Four games into the season, I’m sticking with it all.

The truth is that it really isn’t over until it’s actually over. But if I had money to bet I’d be putting it all on the Tennessee Vols to win the SEC East right now.

That’s not to say the Florida Gators can’t win out in SEC play and somehow end up beating out the Vols. With the way LSU football has been going, Florida’s schedule is starting to look a bit easier. It’s also not to say the Georgia Bulldogs can’t bounce back from that ugly loss at Ole Miss. They can, but they would still have to get through both the Vols and the Gators.

What I am saying is that I believe that the Tennessee Vols will win the SEC East just as much as I believed it before the season started. I actually may believe it even more than that. Butch Jones has finally gotten just the win he needed. And this team is something special. There’s no denying that.

People will always have something to say about Josh Dobbs because he isn’t a traditional passing quarterback. But he is at the heart of why this team is so successful. He is exactly the kind of leader you want on your side when you come into the second half down 21-3. He’s relentless and he isn’t afraid. He’ll take some hard hits from a blitz as long as it means he got a chance to fire off that pass. He won’t let the pressure get to his head. He will go out there and prove every single person who doubts him wrong. And you have to love that about Josh Dobbs.

Beyond Dobbs, there are so many other players who make this team special. Because of all of Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor’s trash talk, nobody will forget that Jauan Jennings catch that really opened up the lead for the Vols in the second half. Jalen Hurd was a workhorse as usual, with 26 carries for 95 yards. Josh Malone had another good game for the Vols, putting up 91 yards receiving and a touchdown. Todd Kelly, Jr. had a great interception for the Vols. Evan Berry finally was able to show how explosive he can be on kick returns. Alvin Kamara even helped with field position for the Vols on punt returns. All in all, it was a true team effort that won this game for the Vols.

This team showed that when they are firing on all cylinders, they could be nearly unstoppable. That was something I hadn’t yet seen from the Tennessee Vols this year. They also showed just how resilient they are by coming back from an 18-point deficit to win by 10 points. Even when some of their own fans had turned on them, they never let up. They kept playing the game the way they knew they could and they were eventually rewarded for it.

Now, back to reality. That game opened up a really tough stretch for the Tennessee Vols. This coming weekend, they’ll be visiting the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. The weekend after that they’ll go to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies. And after that game, they come back home to host the Alabama Crimson Tide. The road to the SEC Championship Game definitely won’t be easy, but this team seems as capable as any to power through.

Maybe I’m biased because this is my hometown team, but nobody can deny that the Tennessee Vols looked downright scary in that second half on Saturday. They snatched the souls right out of the Florida players’ bodies. Now they just need to bring that same intensity for the entire game these next few weeks. Remember: #WGWTFA.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo by Kristen Botica.

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Why the Tennessee Volunteers Will Win the SEC East

Every time my dad calls me or I call him, we inevitably spend a huge portion of the call talking about college football. Although I was raised as a fan of the Tennessee Volunteers, I went to the dark side and became a Florida Gator fan when I went to college. Naturally, this means my dad and I tend to have differing opinions about SEC football the overwhelming majority of the time. Last year, we were both cautiously optimistic about the Vols and we both thought the Gators would be pretty bad. While the Gators proved us wrong and managed to come out of the season with a surprisingly good record, the Vols showed us exactly why we were so cautious about our optimism.

This year, I am still cautious about all the optimism surrounding the Tennessee football program. My dad, on the other hand, has told me three times now exactly why he thinks the Tennessee Volunteers will win the SEC East. In fact, he offered to hijack half of one of my articles for me. Instead of allowing that dangerous idea to play out, I decided to take it upon myself to be his voice. Maybe I will disappoint him less with this article than I did when I talked about Alabama football a couple weeks ago. Without further ado, here’s his list of reasons the Tennessee Volunteers will win the SEC East, accompanied by my explanations of his points.

Their Returning Players

If you ask my dad, he will tell you that as many as 10 players that are on their roster heading into next season could be picked by teams in the 2017 NFL Draft. While 10 may seem a bit too optimistic considering they have not had a player drafted since 2014, they could have had a player drafted this year had some of their starters not chosen to return for another shot at the elusive title. Among those returning for the Vols on offense this year are: senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs, redshirt junior running back Alvin Kamara, and junior running back Jalen Hurd. Basically, the Vols running game is going to be a very dangerous weapon. I mean, have you seen the video of Hurd running at a speed of 19.5 mph on a treadmill at an incline?

The Vols return a good number of defensive weapons too, including: junior defensive end Derek Barnett, senior cornerback Cameron Sutton, senior outside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and junior cornerback Justin Martin. A defense full of players like that has the potential to terrorize even the best of the SEC offenses. Tennessee is also returning a huge asset on special teams in junior Evan Berry. Berry, younger brother of my favorite Vol alumnus Eric Berry, ranked first in the NCAA last season in kickoff return average and was one of only four players in the country who had three kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2015. Berry is listed as a defensive back and is sometimes used as such but he’s clearly most dangerous when he is returning kickoffs and punts.

New Defensive Coordinator, Bob Shoop

Bob Shoop was a great get for the Volunteers. Shoop was the defensive coordinator at Penn State from 2014-2015 and at Vanderbilt from 2011-2013. In each of those past five seasons he coached a top 25 defense. Last year, Penn State ranked 15th in the nation in total defense, holding opponents to an average of 324.3 yards per game. The season before that, Penn State ranked second in the nation in total defense, allowing an average of only 278.7 yards each game. And before that, Shoop saw similar success at Vanderbilt. That experience means he is no stranger to the toughness required to succeed in the SEC.

New Tight Ends Coach, Larry Scott

Larry Scott was also a good get for the Vols. The Miami Hurricanes had a pretty embarrassing season going last year when their head coach Al Golden was fired seven games into the season. The tight ends coach at the time, Larry Scott, was then selected to be the interim head coach. He inherited a team with low morale and an angry fan base but managed to make the best of it, leading the Canes to a 4-2 record while he was in charge. Between USF and Miami he has been an interim head coach, a tight ends coach, a running backs coach, and an offensive line coach. It is safe to say his experience should bring a little something extra to the Volunteers’ offense this season.

The Right Mindset

This last point cannot be stressed enough. One thing I have come to learn is that every sport is a mental challenge almost as much as a physical one. When competing in the best conference in all of college football, the team and its coaches having the right mindset can mean everything. My dad calls the attitude shown by the coaches this spring a “quiet confidence.” Former Vol Al Wilson likened the way this group of players interacts to how the ’98 Championship Vols were. He talked about the leadership shown by those players returning as well as having the attitude of being a team and playing for one another. Head Coach Butch Jones described his team as having “a great inner drive.” And if there is one thing you need to win a championship it is definitely that drive, that relentless determination to do something only one team can do any given season. This Vols team full of seasoned veterans seems to be up to that mental challenge.

Those points I borrowed from my dad are all completely valid reasons to believe that this could finally be Tennessee’s year to win the SEC East. In fact, many other analysts believe that the Vols will at least win the SEC East this season. I actually almost have myself convinced they will finally pull it off this year. But, the biggest question still remaining for the Vols is whether or not their passing game will be improved with junior college transfer Jeff George and sophomore Preston Williams as their leading receivers. If they can get their passing game going, this team could really be something special. Without a somewhat balanced attack on offense, I worry that the Vols may not be able to outlast their tougher opponents like Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Florida. They certainly were not able to outlast Florida and Alabama last year. Maybe this year will be their year, maybe this year all the optimism will be warranted. And if it is not their year, then Coach Jones will be sitting on a scorching hot seat up there in Rocky Top.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter to see more conversations about football that I have with my dad. Or you can see the conversations I have with myself about football because those can be equally amusing, with the Volunteer in me pitted against the Gator in me.