Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tennessee Volunteers Midseason Revisit

The Vols have made it through 7 games and have been almost as predicted except for a great effort and overtime loss to Georgia and upset against the then #11 South Carolina Gamecocks.

Coach Butch Jones has kept a great recruiting effort going and the team seems to have fully bought into the philosophy of the new coaching staff and also seem to be getting better every game so far this year. The Vols have made it through the gauntlet of Oregon, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina with a 1-3 finish and almost beat Georgia, only losing by a literal inch. They are setting at 4-3 because of a 23-21 victory over the Gamecocks, while most predictions preseason had them setting at 3-4. Coach Jones has the team riding on the emotions of the upset going into Tuscaloosa this weekend against the #1 Crimson Tide. Nobody is giving the Vols much of a chance to win, and an upset would be unlikely, so lets go ahead and say we end up 4-4 after the game and finishing up one of the toughest stretches in college football this season by any team.

Now the bad news.

At the beginning of the season most people, be it fans, experts, etc. had the Vols winning against Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Kentucky, and going 2-3 against mediocre teams in Mizzou, Auburn, and Vandy. Since we have pulled an upset against USCjr, we should theoretically be sitting pretty for a bowl game in the new coaching staffs first year. The problem now is that Auburn and Mizzou are highly ranked and playing lights out. Mizzou is undefeated and ranked #5 in the nation, Auburn comes in with only 1 loss and scoring a lot of points on offense. Kentucky looks terrible, and while Vandy has played well and did beat Georgia, the Bulldogs were missing many of their starting players.

 Lets take a closer look at the rest of the way for the Vols.

There isn't much to say here. The Vols are playing well and Alabama looks vulnerable at times, but the talent level is so far apart it would take a miracle for the Vols to pull this off. I will say that if you are a betting person the Tide is favored by 26.5, smart money would take the points, I don't think the Vols can win but no way they lose by 26 points. Alabama is good but they are no Oregon or FSU on offense.

This is such an unfortunate turn of events for a rebuilding program. Many people, myself included, had this as a win this year for Tennessee. Now enter the likely undefeated Tigers and the game to be played in Columbia. This is gonna be a tough one and I'm not very optimistic after watching the Tigers destroy other SEC competition. Looks like we are 4-5 after this one.


Right now Auburn is a 1 loss team and plays with a high octane offense. This is Tennessee's homecoming game and the crowd at Neyland will be in full force. Tennessee's defense is much improved this year and it won't be as easy to score as Auburn is used to. Tennessee can and will stop the Tigers with the defense and crowd. I think we end up 5-5 after this close homecoming victory.


Vandy has new-found success and a very outspoken coach in James Franklin. Vandy smoked UT last year when the team gave up on Derek Dooley. That won't happen this year, I am biased and I am happy Vandy thinks they are accomplishing great things. Trust me on this, The Vols will decimate and embarrass the Commadores, it will be hard for a Vandy fan to watch. Coach Jones will do it for the fans, the upperclassman will do it for revenge, the Vols will roll in this one. I would go as far to say that they will run up the score to a point, and do everything they can to pitch a shutout. I'm not saying it will be 70-0, only because I think Jones will let off the gas and get younger people playing time. 45-0 is well within the realm of possibility and this will be our 6-5 bowl invite.


Oh boy, UK. Dooley let a wide receiver play quarterback 2 years ago and beat us for the first time in decades. Kentucky is bad this year, they have a new coach with good experience and a bright future in Lexington. Stoops inherited a mess with the Wildcats, and I truly believe he will do well there. This isn't the year they do well though, Tennessee will win this game big.

This puts the Vols at 7-5 and still a huge improvement over the last 3 years. Coach Jones is bringing in a huge recruiting class in 2014 and with a real coach and players buying into the program, the Vols will be competing for the East in the next 2 years. The Vols are a team on the rise and the nation is already starting to take notice.     

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tennessee At Oregon

On September 14th, the Tennessee Volunteers travel to Oregon to meet the Ducks in a big game for both teams. Tennessee is looking to make a name for itself once again on the national stage while Oregon is looking to go 3-0 and keep pace with Alabama in the race for the national title. 

It's Hard To Determine What Either Team Is Really Capable Of

The beginning of the college football season is not the best time to separate the good teams from the bad. This is because most college teams in major conferences play cupcake opponents to get themselves ready for league play. Oregon has played FCS school Nicholls State and ACC weakling Virginia while Tennessee has defeated Western Kentucky and FCS school Austin Peay. However, if you are looking at the betting odds for the game, don't be shocked if Oregon is a huge favorite simply because they are ranked second in the nation.

Marcus Mariota Deserves Respect

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota deserves respect as one of the finest dual-threat quarterbacks in the game today. He has thrown for three touchdowns and rushed for three touchdowns in under two games of total work this season. His 235 rushing yards put him second on the team to running back De'Anthony Thomas. It would not be surprising at all to see his name mentioned in the Heisman race this season or next. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see him being mentioned as a high NFL draft pick in the next year or two.

Tennessee Will Look To Run The Ball As Often As Possible

How do you keep a prolific offense off of the field? The answer is to run the ball to keep your own offense on the field. The Volunteers have run the ball 96 times in two games. If they run the ball 40 or more times this week, it will keep the Tennessee defense well rested while keeping Mariota and the Ducks from getting into a groove.

The Team That Has The Ball At The End Will Most Likely Win The Game

Tennessee has scored almost 100 points this season while Oregon has 120. That means that the winning team could be the team that has the ball last. Although the two teams have combined for over 10 takeaways on defense, the sheer power of the offenses will render that a moot point.

Anyone who wants the best betting odds this Saturday should go with the Ducks. They are playing at home and have one of the best offenses in football. While the Volunteers may be a team headed for a bowl game at the end of the year, they will have to do something out of the ordinary to gain an advantage.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tennessee Vs. Oregon: A Delusional Fan's Perspective

Saturday the Oregon Ducks welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Autzen Stadium. The line on the game is currently 27.5 points in Oregon's favor. This Tennessee fan is about to tell you why Oregon will, in fact, lose the game. I will do this with facts that cannot be denied by any Duck fan, and will set the stage for this so called "upset".

Look, Tennessee plays in the SEC. Last year we were in games down to the wire with Georgia, South Carolina, and had Gameday in Knoxville for the Florida game. We lost them all, but that's not the point. The point is this, Oregon could not go undefeated with Tennessee's schedule. This does not need to be debated because it's true. I'm sorry kids, but the SEC plays big-boy football not the glorified flag games the PAC 12 plays. This should be enough to convince you of a UT victory, but just in case, I have several more.

Coaching Staff.
Oregon lost Chip Kelly to the NFL last year, and promoted OC Mark Helfrich to replace him. While all this was going on, The Vols were looking for a suitable replacement for Derek Dooley (aka. the worst football coach of all time). We went and assembled the greatest coaching staff ever with Butch Jones at the helm. Turning away the likes of Jon Gruden and other high profile coaches in the process. So the Ducks bring an unproven head coach in their toughest game so far, and Tennessee brings an all-star staff against a team that isn't even in the SEC? It will be a long day for the Ducks.

Tennessee has achieved its 800th win and is #8 for all-time wins in college football history. They have 6 National Championships and 16 SEC titles. This is in contrast to the Ducks, who only transitioned from two hand touch to tackle football four years ago. Don't get me wrong, they have done well in the last four years. They have really dominated the PAC 12 conference (which I assume stands for something like Pee-wee All Children), but again, SEC. 

 I will assume there will be no discussion about mascots.

I'm sure this is a hard and jagged pill to swallow for Oregon fans who have been fed ESPN propaganda.  I don't know why ESPN is so jealous and hates the Vols, but I do know they are the greatest team to ever grace a college stadium. The Ducks will be so overwhelmed by the pure awesomeness that is the Vols, the game could be over before halftime. I respect Oregon for agreeing to play us in such a one-sided game and hope that the Ducks will one day be on the level with programs like UT. I'm very sorry to have to be the one to drop a reality bomb on the Oregon fans, but it had to be cleared up before Saturday. 

Good luck Ducks!! After this game, you have a realistic chance to win out. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

College Football Uniforms: Tradition VS. Change

The Tennessee Vols have unveiled a new uniform dubbed "Smokey", which is a play on the mascot, The Smokey Mountains, ETC.

I'm in my 30's and have been a Vol fan my whole life. I grew through my teenage years in the 90's, so I have saw The Big Orange at their highest moments. The Volunteers are able to boast one of the richest football traditions in the nation, and the new uniforms have created quite a debate among fans.

We are the Orange and White and have been for years. There was a period long ago that the Vols wore black uniforms, but Orange 151 is our color.

No offense to the Oregon Ducks, but I'm not sure how much football tradition they actually have, so school colors and uniforms don't carry the meaning and following that traditional football schools have. I'm sure having all new Nike gear and having recent success has helped the Duck's recruiting, but kids don't come to Knoxville for Adidas and Orange, they come for playing time and getting to play in the SEC. We have never recruited on our uniforms on any level, a little or a lot, it's never been used at all.

I like the new uniforms, for one game. I can't see the harm in doing something a little different against a rival like Georgia or even South Carolina. Last time we changed the uniform for a game we won, and wins will be hard to come by this year. So I say go for it, if you win it doesn't matter if the colors are pink and purple.

The Vols are not starting some new tradition or changing the schools colors, they are mixing it up for 1 or 2 games a season. This excites the team and the fans. If there is excitement about it, especially from the team, this translates to more excitement on the field and a small edge during the game.

Don't get me wrong, I am opposed to changing the orange and white colors permanently.  I don't think Coach Jones would ever let that cross his mind. Giving the fans and the players something exciting occasionally is a great thing. People need to calm down and realize that change is inevitable, and this "Smokey" uniform is a whole lot more subtle than many programs have already implemented.

We will need all the help we can get this season, and if this uniform gives us the slightest edge in a home game we can use it. The Orange and White isn't going anywhere, we will always be The Big Orange.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Paying College Athletes.

A huge debate has been going on about whether or not college athletes should be paid for their contributions to the respected university.I had a different view of this until recently I found out that student athletes we not allowed to have jobs during their time at a university.

Sport enthusiasts favoring the idea of paying student-athletes argue that student-athletes should be paid, in light of the huge revenues they have generated for the colleges and universities. They also believe that paying student-athletes would alleviate problems related to illegal payments and point shaving. Paying student-athletes would provide athletes an incentive to stay in school and complete their degree programs, instead of leaving early for the professional leagues.

On the other hand:
Student-athletes already are richly compensated. When athletes accept scholarships, they are provided tuition, books, meals, housing, and sometimes graduate assistantships. At some colleges and universities, such support may reach a value of $200,000 or more over a four-year period. Student-athletes may also receive special treatment when it comes to academic issues, for example priority scheduling, tutoring assistance, and excused absences.

Both are reasonable points, the thing that sways my opinion to allow compensation is the fact that college athletes are putting their bodies on the line for the university. The colleges are getting rich off of young adults who are in the same amount of danger as their professional counterparts. Video games, jerseys, any college products that include players are exploiting them for their own monetary gain.

There is also the subject of importance to the university. The University of Tennessee makes most of its sports money from football and basketball, so if a sweeping student athlete compensation package came, where would that leave women's softball or track and field? There isn't going to be an easy and probably not a fair way to do it. This doesn't change the fact that it needs to be done.

I don't have a solution, and I am glad I'm not tasked with coming up with one. The things college athletes do for their university cannot be ignored. With so many college sports being played, and so much revenue being generated, this issue will not be resolved quickly or easily.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Preseason Depth Chart

Tight End
85   Brendan Downs
6-5 // 248 // Bristol, Tenn.
6-3 // 254 // R-Sr.
6-6 // 253 // Jr.
Left Tackle
6-6 // 327 // Nashville, Tenn.
6-6 // 305 // Fr.
Left Guard
78   Alex Bullard
6-2 // 302 // Franklin, Tenn.
6-2 // 307 // Jr.
64   James Stone
6-3 // 291 // Nashville, Tenn.
6-2 // 280 // R-So.
Right Guard
72   Zach Fulton
6-5 // 323 // Homewood, Ill.
6-4 // 306 // R-So.
Right Tackle
70   Ja'Wuan James
6-6 // 318 // Suwanee, Ga.
6-4 // 306 // R-So.
Wide Receiver
83   Cody Blanc
6-3 // 205 // Knoxville, Tenn.
6-4 // 200 // Fr.
6-4 // 215 // Fr.
Wide Receiver
2   Pig Howard
5-8 // 185 // Orlando, Fla.
5-8 // 171 // Jr.
Wide Receiver
18   Jason Croom
6-5 // 223 // Norcross, Ga.
5-11 // 187 // Jr.
14   Justin Worley
6-4 // 222 // Rock Hill, S.C.
- OR -
6-2 // 221 // Fruit Cove, Fla.
Running Back
20   Rajion Neal
5-11 // 212 // Fayetteville, Ga.
6-2 // 215 // R-Fr.
Left End
55   Jacques Smith
6-2 // 243 // Ooltewah, Tenn.
6-5 // 260 // Jr.
Defensive Tackle
6-8 // 351 // Raleigh, N.C.
6-2 // 304 // R-Sr.
Nose Tackle
97   Daniel Hood
6-4 // 277 // Knoxville, Tenn.
6-2 // 287 // R-Fr.
Defensive End
58   Marlon Walls
6-2 // 272 // Olive Branch, Miss.
6-3 // 265 // Sr.
Weakside Linebacker
41   Dontavis Sapp
6-2 // 227 // Valdosta, Ga.
6-1 // 247 // R-Fr.
Middle Linebacker
45   A.J. Johnson
6-2 // 243 // Gainesville, Ga.
6-1 // 240 // R-So.
Strongside Linebacker
17   Brent Brewer
6-1 // 221 // Tyrone, Ga.
6-3 // 239 // Jr.
5-10 // 184 // Brunswick, Ga.
5-10 // 177 // Fr.
35   Jaron Toney
5-10 // 184 // Alcoa, Tenn.
6-0 // 176 // R-So.

Free Safety
6-0 // 199 // Marietta, Ga.
5-11 // 188 // R-So.
Strong Safety
6-1 // 199 // Dallas, Texas
6-0 // 208 // R-Sr.
21   Riyahd Jones
6-0 // 179 // Columbus, Ga.
6-1 // 180 // Fr.
5-11 // 185 // Coral Springs, Fla.
6-1 // 220 // R-Jr.
5-11 // 185 // Coral Springs, Fla.
6-0 // 207 // R-Fr.
Kickoff Specialist
5-11 // 185 // Coral Springs, Fla.
6-0 // 207 // R-Fr.
Long Snapper
53   J.R. Carr
5-10 // 215 // Lomita, Calif.
6-0 // 229 // R-So.
Punt Returns
19   Devrin Young
5-8 // 171 // Knoxville, Tenn.
5-8 // 185 // So.
Kickoff Returns
19   Devrin Young
5-8 // 171 // Knoxville, Tenn.
5-8 // 185 // So.
6-1 // 169 // Powell, Tenn.
6-1 // 220 // R-Jr.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Game by Game Predictions

Football season is almost here! (thank you lord), and the Vols have a new coach, a new defense, and a new excitement in the fanbase. Now is as good a time as any to look at the new season and to preview the 2013 schedule.

Aug. 31 - Austin Peay
Sept. 7 - Western Kentucky
Sept. 14 - at Oregon
Sept. 21 - at Florida
Sept. 28 - South Alabama
Oct. 5 - Georgia
Oct. 19 - South Carolina
Oct. 26 - at Alabama
Nov. 2 - at Missouri
Nov. 9 - Auburn

Nov 23 - Vanderbilt
Nov. 30 - at Kentucky

Tennessee has hired former Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. Former coach Derek Dooley left him a cupboard that was far from bare,and Jones has proven he can win big games. Coach Jones has brought new life to the fanbase and recruits alike. The Vols now boast the #1 recruiting class for the 2014 season.

Tennessee will switch back to a 4-3 defense after one year of the 3-4. Last years defense was quite possibly the worst defense the Vols have ever put on the field. The 4-3 should improve the overall defense as just about anything would be better than last years disaster.

There will be a new quarterback heading the offense this year. Justin Worley has had some in game experience, but mobility isn't one of his strong suits. Nathan Peterman is a mobile quarterback that could very well fit into Jones's fast paced offense a little better than a strait pocket QB.

Aug. 31 - Austin Peay
August 31st starts the season against Austin Peay, this should be no more than a glorified practice and should give everyone an idea of what type of offensive plays and defensive schemes we can look forward to the rest of the season.

Sept. 7 - Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky is a very interesting game. I thought that Tennessee should have given Petrino more interest during the coaching search than they did. He is a proven winner and has done more with less talent. WKU has a SEC caliber running back and will be ready to fight it out. The talent level difference is why I think UT will get this one, I do believe it will turn out to be a whole lot closer than most fans want to believe.

Sept. 14 - at Oregon
It 's a little unfortunate for the Vols that this game showed up on the schedule this season. In a rebuilding stage with a new coach isn't the best position to be in going up against Oregon in Eugene. I do think that UT can and should keep this game within a respectable range, and most fans will be OK with a 7-10 point loss. What they can't do is get blown out, to get deflated so early in the season going into SEC play could be devastating. I'm not conceding anything and I believe miracles happen, but it would take one for the Vols to pull a win here.

Sept. 21 - at Florida
I'm still not sold on Muschamp being the coach the Gators keep for the long haul. They got embarrassed by Louisville and looked like they could fall apart at any moment last year, but they didn't, and 11 wins in the SEC can't be ignored.Tennessee hasn't beat the Gators in almost a decade, sadly, the streak will more than likely continue in 2013.

Sept. 28 - South Alabama
South Alabama will be a good game to get all of the frustrations out after the Florida game.

Oct. 5 - Georgia
Tennessee vs. UGA is a great tradition game, and UT could have won this game last year if they had anything resembling a defense on the field. I like to think of this as something of a "question mark" game. UGA has better talent and more success recently, but if Tennessee gets some calls and a couple of turnovers, this game could go either way.

Oct. 19 - South Carolina
I'm in the minority thinking Tennessee will win this game outright, but I do. I really think this is a must win game for Coach Jones. Coming into this game with a probable record of 3-3 with no wins in the SEC, a win here could be the turning point in the season. What "The Ole' Ball Coach" has done for the Gamecocks is amazing, and they will have another great team this season. South Carolina is the best chance for Jones to pull an upset in the SEC, something Dooley could never do. This game will be the deciding factor for a successful season or a disappointing one.

Oct. 26 - at Alabama
Nothing to see here, maybe in a couple of years.

Nov. 2 - at Missouri
Tennessee lost in OT last year to the Tigers after dominating the first half. Many people, myself included, think the game was lost due mostly to coaching incompetence. That won't be the case this year.  Mizzou is in over its head playing in the SEC, and Tennessee should be angry and vengeful after playing Bama the week before.

Nov. 9 - Auburn
If there was any team as disappointing as UT last year, it was Auburn. The Tigers have a new coach with a lot of intensity and ties to the school as an Offensive Coordinator. This is another "question mark" game, I think this game could go either way depending on the seasons each have had up to this point.

Nov. 23 - Vanderbilt
I don't understand the national attention Vanderbilt has been getting. I realize every dog has his day, and Vandy won a bowl game last year, but they didn't beat anybody that was any good. They did blow UT out, but it was the worst Tennessee team that ever took the field. I'm not afraid of Franklin and Vandy, and I don't think Coach Jones and the Tennessee team is either. UT wins this one big and proves a point.

Nov. 30 - at Kentucky
Stoops has been selling air to recruits and doing it well. I think that he could be the Wildcats savior, just not this year. Tennessee will win this game, but the Wildcats will be good in the near future if Stoops hangs around. 

The Vols should make a bowl this season, and the fans will be happy if they do. 6-6 and a bowl win would give so much hope to the Vol fans, and it isn't a reachable goal, it is a minimum standard. Anything less than 6 wins would be underachieving considering we have 3 easy OOC games and the last half of the season has 4 very winnable conference games.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tennessee self-reports NCAA violations

Tennessee has self-reported seven NCAA secondary violations, including two in football.

One of the football violations involved a prospect making an unofficial visit before he had completed his first year at a junior college. The unnamed prospect visited several other schools, who were also unaware of his status.

In the other violation, a prospect making an unofficial visit attended an off-campus meal at Calhoun’s on the River intended only for official visitors, causing the staff to exceed the permissible number of off-campus contacts.

Swimming coach Tyler Fenwick, who texted recruits he had coached at his previous job at a private club in California, said he was unaware that he was committing a violation. Fenwick was banned from telephone contact with recruits for 14 days and UT was banned from contacting the recruits in question for 30 days.

Michael Beaumont,the current women’s basketball director of operations, handed out cash for meals during a trip to Arkansas, he used the per diem rate for Knoxville, not Fayetteville. Each player received $3 more than permissible for their lunch.

Men’s tennis coach Sam Winterbotham inadvertently paid for a breakfast that had been charged to the room of a visiting student-athlete. The amount paid was donated to a charity.

All the violations occurred since March.

Universities routinely self-report secondary violations to their conference offices and the NCAA. In most cases, the SEC and NCAA accept the university’s self-imposed punishments and take no further action. The university's compliance department posted the violations and subsequent punishments on its website. Coaches went through additional rules education, but UT said the mistake was inadvertent and no recruiting advantage was gained.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tennessee Vols Recruiting 2014

Current Verbal Commitments

Jalen Hurd, Hendersonville (TN) Beech High School: Hurd is arguably the most important recruit in Tennessee's class. A massive 6'3, 225-pound running back, Hurd has the potential to be a beast in Butch Jones' run-first spread. Keeping in-state prospects in Tennessee is crucial for the Volunteers, as the state doesn't produce all that much elite talent in the first place. Hurd is a consensus five-star recruit and someone around whom Tennessee can build its offense.
Todd Kelly, Webb School of Knoxville (TN) High School: It's always nice when an elite recruit pops up in the shadow of a school's stadium who happens to be a legacy, and that's exactly what the Volunteers have in Kelly, a 6'1, 190-pound safety prospect. Kelly is a consensus four-star recruit and top-10 safety nationally. He holds multiple offers from the SEC and other elite schools around the country.
D'Andre Payne, Washington (D.C) Friendship Academy: Payne is one of 20 best cornerback recruits in the country, and is a consensus four-star recruit. While only 5'9 and 170 pounds, he consistently makes plays and has good instincts, quickness and toughness. Payne chose Tennessee over many SEC and ACC offers.
Treyvon Paulk, Alpharetta (GA) Milton High School: Paulk is a three-star running back who profiles as a solid contributor to the Volunteers. And "solid" also describes his physical profile. Paul is 5'9 and 200 pounds, and doesn't give defenders much to tackle. He is considered a '9 200 top 40 3-star
Neiko Creamer, Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian High School: In Butch Jones' run-first spread, receivers are required to block. And Creamer should be a big advantage not only as a size mismatch (6'4, 220) against smaller defensive backs in the passing game, but also in the run game on the edge. Some think Creamer can stay at receiver, while others think he will grow into a tight end. Either, way, the consensus three-star is a nice grab for the Volunteers.
Coleman Thomas, Max Meadows (VA) Fort Chiswell High School: Tennessee needs to rebuild its depth on the offensive line, and Thomas is a nice prospect at 6'6 and 298 pounds. He is a consensus three-star recruit, and despite his height, profiles as an interior player and not a tackle.
Vic Wharton, Thompson's Station (TN) Independence High School: A 6'0, 177-pound athlete capable of playing cornerback or slot receiver, Wharton is rated a consensus three-star.

For more on Vol Recruiting visit and

Monday, January 21, 2013

San Fransisco Vs. Baltimore, Super Bowl XLVII

One Harbaugh will win Super Bowl XLVII. Another will lose it. John turned 50 on Sept. 23, the day his Ravens played New England in a Sunday night game. Jim turned 49 on Dec. 23, the day his 49ers played Seattle in a Sunday night game. A  huge amount of the pregame coverage will surround the brothers Harbaugh, but there's plenty of other, on-field stuff worthy of tuning in for.

Baltimore advanced while playing on the road, traveling to New England and upsetting the heavily favored Patriots 28-13, the 49ers rallied from a 17-0 hole to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, who had posted the best regular season record in the NFC.

The Patriots started out against the Ravens strong, jumping to a 3-0 lead and -- after a Baltimore score -- entering halftime up 13-7. New England had the better regular record, not to mention a playoff pedigree having played in five Super Bowls in the past 11 years. They also had  Tom Brady, who last Sunday passed Joe Montana as the quarterback with the most playoff wins ever. But the second half was all Baltimore. The Ravens scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, two of them on Joe Flacco touchdown passes to receiver Anquan Boldin.

"We came here last year and left with a bitter taste in our mouths," Baltimore's Boldin told reporters after the game. "We felt like this team took something away from us. And we wanted to come back and make that right." 

John Harbaugh to reporters, after the Ravens' win, that he and his brothers had a "few dreams" -- one of which may have been meeting up in the Super Bowl -- as well "as a few fights ... just like all brothers."
"We'll let the two teams duke it out, as much as possible," John Harbaugh said, smiling.

The 49ers haven't been in the Super Bowl since 1995, and their 2000s were marred by mostly losing regular seasons. Since the 2011 hiring of Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback himself who'd been coaching at nearby Stanford, things have turned for the best. The next season, they made it to the NFC Championship, only to fall to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the New York Giants. San Francisco's defense thrives on turnovers. It's also where they stole momentum against Atlanta, taking the ball away from Matt Ryan twice during the second half. Colin Kaepernick didn't put up impressive numbers, but he was solid in the 49er's victory over the Falcons. Trailing by three scores midway through the second quarter, San Francisco rallied for two quick touchdowns -- one on a LaMichael James 11-yard run, the other on a four-yard reception by tight end Vernon Davis.

This Super Bowl matchup features two of the most dominant inside linebackers of their eras. San Francisco's Patrick Willis counts Baltimore's Ray Lewis as a friend and mentor. The two have combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances and 12 first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections. Lewis plans to retire after this game.

My Favorite NFL Moment of 2012
Biggest Sports Headlines of 2012 
Sports New Year's Resolutions for 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

NFL Conference Championship Games

The Patriots (13-4) advanced to a Jan. 20 rematch with Baltimore for the American Football Conference championship. The Ravens (12-6) two days ago knocked off the top-seeded Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime. Last season, the Patriots were able to survive a challenge from the Ravens thanks to a late field-goal miss by Billy Cundiff.

Tom Brady is the main reason New England is so tough to beat in a playoff situation, the Patriots also run a very balanced offense.

''I think the two best teams are in the final,'' Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. ''Baltimore certainly deserve to be here and so do we.''

The Patriots were made early 9 1/2-point favorites against the Ravens.

This season, Justin Tucker beat out Cundiff for the kicker's job. Tucker hit a 47-yarder against Denver on Saturday to lift the Ravens to a 38-35 win in double overtime, extending Ray Lewis' career for at least one more week and putting the 17-year veteran one win away from his second Super Bowl. Baltimore halfback Ray Rice rushed 30 times for 131 yards and a touchdown.

''We fought hard to get back to this point and we're definitely proud of being here,'' Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. ''We feel like it's going to take a lot for somebody to come and kick us off that field come the AFC championship game.''

The Falcons and 49ers haven’t met since Week 4 of the 2010 season at the Georgia Dome. At that time, Mike Singletary was San Francisco’s head coach and Kaepernick was playing at the University of Nevada. The Falcons won, 16-14, when Bryant hit a 43-yard field goal with two seconds remaining. The Falcons’ chances against Kaepernick will hinge on the status of the pass rusher John Abraham. After Abraham hurt his ankle against the Seahawks, Russell Wilson flourished because he did not face pressure.

The experience of playing a mobile quarterback like Wilson had better help the Falcons prepare for Kaepernick, who is even more dangerous running the read-option behind a bullying offensive line.

"Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are mobile quarterbacks who throw the ball at extremely accurate levels," Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said. "We can use this game as a cheat sheet to prepare for next week." .

Ryan will have the chance to make some hay downfield with wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. No team spreads the ball around as well as Ryan and the Falcons.

San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick set an NFL single-game rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards and two touchdowns. He also passed for 263 more yards and another two scores. Vernon Davis was targeted five times overall by Kaepernick. He could get even more opportunities Sunday.

"We're one step closer to where we want to be," said Kaepernick.

Though the 49ers must travel cross country for the game, they opened as 3-point favorites.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tennessee Recruiting So Far

With less than a month left before National Signing Day, Tennessee is clamoring to improve their #28 recruiting class rank. So far UT has 17 commits with 3 4*s and 1 in the ESPN top 300.

Riley Ferguson  #15 QB-PP  ESPN Top 300
Corey Vereen #21 OLB
Austin Sanders  #26 OT

Tennessee has several offers out with 5* and 4* players who are yet to declare. While having a top 25 recruiting class is respectable, playing in the SEC makes it a bit tougher than most conferences. UT needs to secure at least a top 15 class and actually needs a top 10 class within the next 2 years to compete with the rest of the SEC competition.

A few of the undeclared prospects Tennessee needs to secure are:

Derrick Green #5 RB
Vonn Bell  #5 S

Both of these players have been highly recruited and have Tennessee high on their list. Green took an official visit to UT on  09/14/2012, the first one he took and one of only three he has taken so far. Green's list is very long, so to have him on campus is a big plus. It is unfortunate that Tennessee has went through a coaching change this season, but the good news is Jay Graham was retained and was Green's recruiter for his visit. Vonn Bell grew up close to Tennessee Football and has an official visit scheduled for 01/25/2013. He has been recruited and will visit Ohio State and Alabama in January also.

Marquez North and Shelton Gibson have taken or will visit in January and have been offered by the Vols, although they are still uncommitted. Landing any of the undeclared recruits listed will push UT's class significantly higher, which doesn't necessarily equal success, but could definitely make a huge difference next season. Tennessee has also offered Robert Nkemdiche, the #1 recruit in the nation. There probably isn't a realistic chance of landing him, but at least UT and Butch Jones are going all out on the recruiting trail so far.

UT's 2013 class really comes down to this month, good visits, and a whole lot of luck. Realistically it will take UT at least two years, two winning years, to get a great recruiting class.  With all that came out about Derek Dooley's recruiting practices, it should be safe to say UT can only get better on the recruiting trail.

As of today the top 5 recruiting classes look like this:

1Notre Dame Fighting Irish23
3Alabama Crimson Tide21
2Florida Gators25
4Ohio State Buckeyes21
5USC Trojans15 


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