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.
It’s that time of the year. It’s time for one of the most important games all year for me as a fan of the Tennessee Vols. It’s time for the Volunteers to finally start a streak of their own and show Gator fans why this is a true rivalry.
Beyond just Tennessee, we have to win this game for the good of the American people. Why? Florida’s usual starting quarterback Luke Del Rio is out with an injury. That means that Florida is starting their transfer quarterback from Purdue, Austin Appleby. And apparently Austin Appleby is a fan of Osama Bin Laden. Well, maybe not a fan, but he still dressed up like him. There’s actually photo evidence.
Don’t even get me started about that trash-talking delinquent Jalen Tabor. Apparently he thinks it’s pretty obvious that Florida will beat Tennessee. I’m sure it’ll shut him up (at least for a bit) when he finds out just how wrong he is. Maybe he’ll even disappear from Twitter again.
I know what Florida fans are thinking: The Vols have lost eleven years in a row, so what has changed? Well, I can tell you what hasn’t changed. Florida’s offense is still nothing special. And it’ll be even worse with Appleby having to start at quarterback this week. Appleby, by the way, threw as many interceptions as he did touchdowns in his time at Purdue. He’s pretty much nothing for the Vols to worry about.
Let’s not forget all the assets that the Vols have on their side. Offensively, they boast an impressive trio of guys who can all provide substantial rushing yardage. Quarterback Josh Dobbs is great on his feet and so are running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Now, if the Vols could only get the ball to Kamara in space…
One other very obvious thing that Tennessee has working in their favor is their attitude. And I mean that #WGWTFA attitude. (WARNING: The video features strong language.)
But really, can you beat an attitude like that? Virginia Tech couldn’t at that game in Bristol. Now it’s Florida’s turn to give it a try. We’ll see how well that “try” goes in front of over 100,000 rambunctious fans in Neyland stadium tomorrow.
I know there’s been some talk of a supposed curse from certain things. Apparently checkering Neyland is a bad sign. And the grey uniforms don’t have a stellar record…yet. AND College Gameday is going to be in town. Basically, things don’t look good for the Vols when you consider those circumstances.
There are other circumstances that matter infinitely more. Like Derek Barnett putting a beating on Appleby and Justin Martin, adding to Appleby’s interception count. When (not if) the Vols do those things, there will be thousands of happy Vol fans singing “Rocky Top” as loud as they can on Saturday. So loud that it will almost definitely haunt Florida’s players in their dreams later. This has been eleven years coming, so it will absolutely not disappoint.
In summary, if you ask me how Saturday will go I’ll tell you one thing: #WGWTFA.
The Amway Preseason Coaches poll was just released and it inspired me to look forward to some of the best games that lay ahead. In all honesty, I would gladly watch college football, even just SEC football, all day each Saturday starting next month. But unfortunately that isn’t always possible, because let’s face it, not all people are the as awesome as us die-hard college football fans.
And for that reason I decided to create a list of the SEC football games I would watch this season if for some terrible reason I could only watch one game per week. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to this, but if it does at least I have you (and myself) covered.
Week 1: #12 Ole Miss vs. #4 Florida State
While I could’ve easily picked #1 Alabama vs. #17 USC or #6 LSU vs. Wisconsin, but the Ole Miss-Florida State matchup takes the cake here. I fully expect Alabama to be able to handle the Trojans and although Wisconsin wasn’t bad last year, LSU should be able to handle them between Leonard Fournette and a much-improved Brandon Harris. Ole Miss and Florida State is most intriguing of these matchups to me because I expect it to be the closest game. Ole Miss is returning a fantastic quarterback in Chad Kelly and while Florida State may not have quite the same kind of weapon at quarterback, they do have one of the best offensive lines in the country. Usually I watch games for the defense, but this time I’ll definitely be watching for the offense. And as much as I ride for SEC football, I have to admit I do expect the Seminoles to come out victorious.
Week 2: Arkansas @ #14 TCU
Arkansas may not be a team picked by too many to have a great season this year, but I do think they’re a team to watch early in the season. If the Razorbacks can get off to a good start with what Coach Bret Bielema might call a “borderline erotic” (no, I’m not letting that one go yet) victory over TCU, then the sky’s the limit. Arkansas may have an inexperienced quarterback, but they make up for that lack of experience elsewhere. They return numerous starts on the defensive side of the ball and they have plenty of options for offensive production when you look at potential running backs. The TCU Horned Frogs will undoubtedly be a formidable opponent, but I’d definitely put this game on “upset alert” right now. And who wouldn’t want to watch a good upset?
Week 3: #1 Alabama @ #12 Ole Miss
This game needs very little explanation. Both were great teams last year, both are expected to be about equally great again this year. Ole Miss has proven to be somewhat of a stumbling block for the Crimson Tide lately, so Alabama needs to find a way to overcome whatever the issue is and get off to a better start this season. While Chad Kelly is going to be a fantastic quarterback for the Rebels, I’d put my money on Alabama’s suffocating defense just about any day. Do I expect Ole Miss to get its third victory in a row in this series? No, but I do anticipate a very interesting football game.
Week 4: #25 Florida @ #10 Tennessee
For me, this is the hardest game to watch every single season. I was raised a Volunteer but became a Gator when it was time to go to college. Since I’ve been a Gator, Florida has yet to lose to Tennessee. They’ve actually won eleven in a row in this rivalry…but who’s counting? This year I truly do expect that winning streak to come to an end. The game may ultimately come down quarterbacks. Josh Dobbs is reliable as a threat on the ground, but will he become a real passing threat this season? The Gators are likely to start Luke Del Rio this season, but he may not be the answer to all their offensive woes. I will say that the Gators aren’t going to be a pushover in the SEC East this season but the Vols return too much talent, both offensively and defensively, for the Gators to be able to handle them once again. I could be wrong about that, but again this one is bound to be another really good game to watch.
Week 5: #10 Tennessee @ #16 Georgia
I’m just going to throw this out there but the last time Tennessee was ranked #10 in the preseason poll was in 1998. The last time Tennessee won a National Championship was also in 1998. So, there’s obviously something to be said for their preseason ranking. Georgia is still a bit more of an unknown heading into the season. Nick Chubb returns this season after he was injured on the first play of the Tennessee game last year and that could be big. Not to mention, Georgia did one of the smartest things you can do when hiring a new head coach. They sought out a former Alabama coach to lead their team, Kirby Smart. Florida will tell you what a great idea that type of hiring decision can be. Since the game is in Athens, this could be a tough one for the Vols to win. But if the Vols do get that win then it’s safe to say they are national contenders and Alabama better watch out for them in a couple weeks.
Week 6: #6 LSU @ #25 Florida
The hype heading into this game last season was incredible and I expect the same kind of energy this year. While LSU returns Leonard Fournette at running back and now has a more experienced Brandon Harris at quarterback, Florida has made some adjustments. Like previously mentioned, quarterback transfer Luke Del Rio is expected to start for the Gators. If they had him at the helm of their offense last year, they might have even been able to get a win in Death Valley. On top of that, the Gators can still claim the title of being the “Real DBU” with Jalen “Teez” Tabor picking up right where Hargreaves left off last season. And let’s not forget that Florida might actually have a kicker in Eddy Pineiro to help them out in those tight games this year. With the Tigers traveling to the Swamp, I give a slight edge to the Gators here. This is another one of those games that will be highly entertaining, regardless of the outcome.
Be on the lookout for part two of this article, coming next week!
All the rankings listed above are according to the Preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released on August 4th, 2016.
In all honesty the midseason all-conference team means absolutely nothing. Isn’t that just a great Segway into the rest of my article? Midseason all-conference teams identify the players that have helped out their team in the best ways possible in achieving its success so far at this point in the season. Here are the top players from the SEC by position midway through the 2015 season.
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
After two back-to-back 70-point performances in the first two weeks of its season, Ole Miss knew it had a star at quarterback. Chad Kelly is a big time playmaker that continues to put Ole Miss in great spots to win games. Defeating Alabama for the first time in Tuscaloosa since 1988, Kelly has gained the fan support and trust of head coach Hugh Freeze. 2015 Stats: 1,862 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 64.4% completion
Leonard Fournette, LSU
The most entertaining player in college football has been nothing short of greatness for the Tigers this season. Fournette’s ability to bounce off defenders and then turn up the field for big gains has already given him 1,000 yards in five games. The streak of 200 yard rushing games is over, but that was just something for us bleacher reporters to have fun with. 2015 stats: 119 carries, 1,022 rushing yards, 8.6 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Finally waiting his turn on being the unanimous #1 option for the Tide in the backfield, Henry has not disappointed. Dodging defenders and using his surprising speed has paved way for 10 touchdowns on the ground in an offense where he is much appreciated. 2015 stats: 120 carries, 665 rushing yards, 5.5 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
The highly-touted recruit has burst on the scene for the Aggies and has become their most deadly offensive weapon. Kirk’s speed and elusiveness has given big play ability to what was already an explosive Aggie offense. The future is bright for this Kyle Allen Christian Kirk duo. 2015 stats: 32 receptions, 519 receiving yards, 16.2 yards per catch, 4 touchdowns
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
Having the concern of whether he would return to full effect or not after his harsh leg injury a year ago, Treadwell has erased most of the doubters putting together a productive 2015 season. He admits that he is still working on some things to get back where he was but an 80% Treadwell is still pretty darn good. 2015 stats: 35 receptions, 510 receiving yards, 14.6 yards per catch, 3 touchdowns
Tight End or Fullback
John David Moore, LSU, FB
J.D. Moore has been an important piece to Fournette’s successful start to the season. In every highlight play from his teammate, Moore is the man in front paving the way for the big gains on offense. Moore will actually be out this week for Florida, which can be a concern for the effectiveness in the LSU run game.
Ethan Pocic, LSU
The two-time SEC linemen of the week has been one of the more dominant centers in the country so far this season. An effective run blocker and vocal leader, Pocic is the anchor on a solid LSU front.
Vadal Alexander, LSU, OT
Outside of Laremy Tunsil, Alexander was one of the more hyped offensive linemen in the SEC this preseason. Alexander has lived up to that high billing being a dominant force at right tackle with his quick feet and strong base to excel in both the run and pass game.
Fahn Cooper, Ole Miss, OT
There is a relief that Laremy Tunsil is returning this weekend, but Fahn Cooper has been very good in trying to fill the vacancy at left tackle. Cooper was voted SEC offensive lineman of the week in Week Four.
Kyler Kerbyson, Tennessee, OT
Kerbyson has been solid this season for what was expected to be a shaky Tennessee offensive line heading into the season. Serving has a great pass protector and a solid run blocker has helped Tennessee provide the Vols with two backs with 300-plus yards.
Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas, OG
Formerly known as the best lineman with the golden arm, Tretola is also a great SEC offensive guard. Tretola is your ideal nasty grinder in the run game that has helped pave way what has been another solid rushing attack from the Razorbacks.
Walter Brady, Missouri
Losing Shane Ray, the Tigers needed to find someone who could fill the big shoes and provide pressure on the quarterback. Brady, redshirt freshman, has been flying all around the backfield this season causing havoc at a high rate. 2015 stats: 17 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 2 hurries
Jonathan Bullard, Florida
The Florida defense has been electric this season and so has Jonathan Bullard. Bullard has been a star in the making and he is beginning to reach his star-studded potential being a threat to make something on every play in either the run or pass game. Probable first or second round pick. 2015 stats: 28 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 4 hurries
Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
The 2014 freshman sensation is even better than his freshman form (obviously). Garrett is frankly just a beast when it comes to rushing the passer. Offenses continue to double-team him showing the respect he deserves being the dangerous disrupter he is. 2015 stats: 25 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 6 hurries, forced fumble
Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M
A little overshadowed by his partner in crime Myles Garrett, Hall has been just as productive. Being more of an effective run stopper, Hall helps balance out a strong defensive unit for the Aggies. 2015 stats: 23 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
*Note: Since all-conference teams are mostly made up of players with a high stat production, Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss did not make the list but has played at a considerably high level.
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
One of the lone bright spots for a struggling Tigers team is linebacker Kentrell Brothers. His tenacity to get after the ball carrier has not gone unnoticed. Brothers seems to always be in position to make the play as his stats back that up. 2015 stats: 74 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions
Antonio Morrison, Florida
The top candidate for comeback player of the years, Morrison’s play and leadership has bought him a spot on the midseason All-SEC team. Morrison has played at a high-level throughout his Florida career and is the captain of a strong Gator defense with its work cut out for them this week versus Leonard Fournette and LSU. 2015 stats: 46 tackles, 1.5 sacks
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
Constantly making impactful plays, Reeves-Maybin is a hot name on the Vols defense with plenty of players derserving high praise. Reeves-Maybin continues to anchor a shaky and very young linebacking corp with his solid play and leadership. 2015 stats: 56 tackles, 3 sacks, forced fumble
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, CB
The definition of a lock down corner, Vernon Hargreaves has once again been a phenomenal cover man in the SEC. Eyeing his third straight All-America bid, Hargreaves continues to play at a high level living on his own island. 2015 stats: 19 tackles, 3 interceptions
Mike Hilton, Ole Miss, NB
Hilton had a strong game in the upset in Tuscaloosa and has help consistency since. Hilton is an undersized corner (5’9 184), but is an aggressive physical playmaker that doesn’t take no for an answer. 2015 stats: 26 tackles, 6 pass breakups, 4.5 tackles for loss
Jalen Tabor, Florida, CB Gaining more attention because of Hargreaves’ lockdown ability on the opposite side, Tabor has made the best out of every opportunity he has received. Just a sophomore, Tabor has solidified a dangerous cornerback duo in Gainesville creating its own version of “No Fly Zone.” 2015 stats: 15 tackles, 8 passes defended, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions for touchdowns
Tre’Davious White, LSU, CB
Not receiving many targets his way, White is a respected cover corner who has been highly effective in the passing game though just playing average quarterbacks. White continues the trend of lockdown cornerback play on the Bayou and could be the next LSU big name to make the jump to the NFL. 2015 stats: 20 tackles, tackle for loss, punt return touchdown
Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
Of the small amount Kaser has had to punt it away this season, he has done an excellent job at pinning opponents deep with a 51 yards per punt average. The Aggies face a tough Alabama defense Saturday, which will create many fourth down punts for Kaser making him an even more vital piece for this Aggies special teams unit.
Trent Domingue, LSU & Westin Graves, Mississippi State
Both players have knocked every one of their kicks through the uprights being 7-for-7 on the year so far. Very reliable players.
Archives of sports websites no longer available on the Internet