College Football

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Lurking Gators

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida (6-1) is back in familiar territory as a top 10 team and national championship contender. The Gators beat No.7 Auburn about two weeks ago.

The Tigers came into the game as the favorites but left Gainesville with a convincing 24-13 loss. Florida was feeling great after that win and headed to No. 5 LSU the following week.

UF won the game in Gainesville last season, 27-19. The Tigers had revenge on their mind and pulled away in the second half. The game was tied at 21 at halftime. LSU won 42-28.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron declared that holding Florida’s defense without a sack was “the biggest stat of the night,” noting how the Gators’ defensive ends had “destroyed” opposing offensive lines in previous games.

Kyle Trask was 23-of-39 passing for 310 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

“There’s two ways you can go: You can either lose and start pointing fingers or you can lose and start coming together,” Trask said. “We have a great group of guys and at the end of the day; it’s just going to make this team better.”

This is the toughest part of Florida’s schedule. So far, they are 1-1 during these four games. The remaining games are at South Carolina and Georgia at a neutral site (Jacksonville).

Previously I did not think the USC game would be difficult. The Gamecocks were under .500 prior to this weekend.

They shocked the college football world by beating No. 3 UGA in Athens. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times and South Carolina did not have any. Now this game in Columbia looks like a heavyweight matchup.

South Carolina (3-3) gave up 468 yards to Georgia but forcing the turnovers was the difference. The Gamecocks also lost freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski to a knee injury. He’s actually a backup and has been playing since senior Jake Bentley suffered a mid-foot sprain in the season opener.

Third string freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner played several snaps against Georgia. Currently, it does not sound like he will start the Florida game because Hilinski is expected to return.

“He’s got a sprained knee,” Muschamp said of Hilinski. “It’s nothing serious. I’ll know more Tuesday. He’s a little sore, obviously, today. But again, it’s nothing serious. We expect him to play on Saturday.”

So far, I give the early advantage to the Gators. They are ranked 20th nationally in total defense but they have played at least one more game than all of the teams ranked higher. That means they are actually better than many of them.

The Gamecocks are not good on offense and they are led by an injured true freshman QB.

If he cannot make it through the game, the third string QB will come in and they were not effective with him. They should be able to stop them and hold them to under twenty points.

I don’t think they will overlook this game since they know Carolina is capable of beating them. After that, they will go in to the bye week with two weeks to prepare against Georgia.

Ramblin Wreck

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have to imagine Geoff Collins begins each day staring at the mirror, doing his best Stuart Smalley impression.

However, instead of repeating the self-affirmation quotes that end with “….and doggone it, people like me” I picture him reciting all the reasons he decided to take the Georgia Tech head coaching gig in the first place- $3 million dollars a season…it’s not Temple…close proximity to The Varsity.

I feel as though it’s pretty safe to assume most anyone who watches college football knew this would be a tough transitional year for Georgia Tech, but I’m not sure even the most ardent of Yellow Jacket fans thought it would be this rough.

Not only are they the worst team in the ACC, but you could argue they are the worst of all the Power Five schools. The team is really living up to the whole Ramblin’ Wreck nickname, but for all the wrong reasons.

It’s hard to find many bright spots when your opponents are out gaining you by over 100 yards per contest, you haven’t scored more than 24 points in any game and you lost not only to an FCS school, but a bad one at that.

I could go even more in depth, but it would be close to bullying at that point, especially since you can’t really blame the current coaches or players for what’s taking place.

When you’re struggling through a season like Georgia Tech is currently going through, you can usually point to a litany of reasons as to why it’s happening. While that’s true in this case, the main culprit has to do with recruiting; the talent just isn’t there.

Paul Johnson did a decent job early in his tenure of bringing in players that fit his system, even if they weren’t the most talented.

That wasn’t necessarily the case over the past few seasons, so what’s left is a group of players brought in to play in a system no longer being used, most of whom just aren’t talented enough to compete at this level on a weekly basis.

To use the “Cook the meals, buy the groceries” analogy from Bill Parcells, Johnson bought the groceries he thought he needed to make lasagna and now Collins is having to turn those ingredients into stir fry.

Given the circumstances it’s hard to tell how much of an impact the new head coach has made, but the free pass you could argue he should be afforded lasts for this year only.

Now, I know contracts don’t necessarily mean a lot in today’s game, but given the seven-year contract Collins was given I have to believe the administration is willing to give him an opportunity to turn things around, even though it won’t be immediately.

I doubt Tech will be favored in any of their games for the remainder of the season, and even though they could pull off an upset or two, they are looking at arguably their worst season in 25 years. At this point it’s about getting to the end of the season without completely embarrassing yourself.

More than likely it will be a few years before Georgia Tech is back to being relevant on the college football landscape, although being in the Coastal Division could certainly help speed up the rebuilding process.

In the meantime, Collins may need to find things to add to his daily mirror pep talk.

Storm In Miami

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After five games, what have we learned about the Miami Hurricanes?

They aren’t well coached. The Hurricanes are off to a poor start with a 2-3 record. The Hurricanes have yet to beat a Power Five opponent, losing to Florida, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

First year head coach Manny Diaz is saying all the right things but morale victories don’t keep you off the hot seat. Is Manny in over his head?

On December 30, 2018, Coach Diaz was hired as the head coach at the University of Miami. Diaz was Miami Defensive Coordinator from 2016-2018. Coach Diaz is considered the engineer behind the “Turnover Chain” and a top 10 defense.

Miami fans want to restore the glory days of the 80’s and 90’s. When ‘THE U” rained terror down of college football. The Hurricanes dominated college football landscape winning five National Championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 & 2001) plus national finalist (1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2000 & 2002).

Obviously, the Hurricanes of today won’t live up to the “The U” standards.

While it is premature to call for Coach Diaz’s job; the rest of the coaching staff should feel the pressure.

Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker has taken a top 10 defense and turned it into a dumpster fire. Miami currently ranks 15 in total defense. Virginia Tech scoring 42 points is not the Miami standard. It’s very clear Coach Diaz has to become more involved with the defense.

Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos inherited an offensive line that is offensive. Miami’s offensive line has been under scrutiny all season and are ranked 125th in the country in sacks allowed.

Quarterback Jarren Williams had been getting destroyed. Miami has talent at receiver and tight end but it doesn’t matter if Williams has no time to throw the ball.

Running Backs DeeJay Dallas has made the most of their opportunities rushing for 410 yard and scoring 6 touchdowns in five games. Dallas could be one of the top running backs in the country if he wasn’t having to make two guys miss on every play.

Enos get paid to put points on the board. He’s doing just that with the worst offensive line in college football.

Enos now has a quarterback controversy with Jarren Williams getting benched and N”Kosi Perry throwing for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday.

The remainder of the Hurricanes schedule is relatively easy to manage. The Hurricanes play Virginia, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Louisville. FIU and Duke.

Miami must win 4 of these games to become bowl eligible. After losing to Virginia Tech this past Saturday, becoming bowl eligible will prove to be an uphill battle.

How does Manny Diaz salvage the remainder of the season? First, Diaz must become more involved with the defense. Second, he must hold coaches, players and himself accountable. Finally, he has to do a better job recruiting.

Diaz must influence the defense in practice and on a day to day basis. Coaching defense is how Manny Diaz got the job at Miami. This is the biggest sense of urgency for Miami.

Players and coaches must be held accountable for their actions. Miami finished the game against Virginia Tech with 11 penalties for 90 yards.

Three key personal foul penalties extend Virginia Tech drives. Miami tied the game but Mike Harley’s personal foul for celebration gave Virginia Tech great field position on their winning touchdown drive.

Miami coaches created the “Turnover Chain and Touchdown Rings.” Players care more about wearing them than winning.

The blood of college football is recruiting, and The Hurricanes must do a better job. Miami is currently ranked 27 nationally and 4th in the ACC (247Sports). This is unacceptable!

The Hurricanes glory days appear long gone and the future does not look bright.

Deafening Silence

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Two years ago, Georgia was ahead of schedule when it won the SEC and suffered an overtime loss in the national title game; a storyline that was easy to follow and received a lot of national publicity for obvious reasons.

Last year, the storyline revolved around whether or not they could repeat their previous years success; specifically, could they get over the Alabama hurdle?

This year, even though they’ve been firmly planted in the #3 ranking for the first third of the season and are one of the most complete teams in the country, it almost seems as if Georgia is under the radar.

It’s a no brainer that Alabama and Clemson are going to be the major headlines throughout the season, there are too many juicy storylines between the two programs for them not to be.

Plus, Georgia hasn’t achieved nearly the same amount of success as those two have in recent years, so it just makes sense that they wouldn’t receive the same type of coverage.

It’s the publicity for many of the other current AP Top 10 teams below Georgia that I’m talking about.

LSU and Oklahoma are popular stories because the Tigers finally have an offense that doesn’t resemble something from the 1930’s and Jalen Hurts is putting up better numbers than the Sooners previous two quarterbacks, who just happen to be Heisman Trophy winners.

Ohio State gets the love because, well, they’re Ohio State, and as much as people like to complain about it, names sell.

If you’re questioning why Georgia has been out of the spotlight a little more than you would expect, just look at the Notre Dame game; another Top 10 team so popular you’d think Jesus was actually scoring touchdowns for them.

After Georgia’s 23-17 win over their fellow Top 10 opponent, you may have expected a number of stories praising the Dawgs and talking about how this could positively affect the remainder of their season.

There were a few of them, but the main takeaway for most people was that Notre Dame has a legitimate playoff worthy team this year, based on their play in Athens. I know that line of thinking upset more than a few Georgia fans who thought it was a bit disrespectful to focus on the Fighting Irish, but I’d argue it was the exact opposite.

In a matter of two years Georgia has evolved from being the team looking for validation to being the team opponents use to validate themselves.

If I’m a Georgia fan, that’s exactly how I want it- enter the game as the favorite and have the press drool over the opponent afterwards solely because they’re merely able to hang with us. It really is kind of the ultimate sign of respect.

When you look at the remainder of Georgia’s schedule, I wouldn’t expect things to change either, until they play Auburn on November 16.

As fans, when our team is playing well, we feel as though they should be the topic of conversation everywhere. Why else do we listen to five minutes of a four hours radio show and complain about our team not being mentioned?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if they don’t get recognition during the season, receiving it at the end of the season is what counts; it’s something all the elite teams learn over time. So, congratulations Georgia fans, that silence you’re hearing means you’re almost there.

 

Growing Wings

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia Southern has a storied history of championship-caliber football teams. And while those types of teams usually need to be well-rounded in order to achieve status, it’s been a tradition at Georgia Southern to throw its belief and support of each season’s team in the direction that the offense has gone.

That trend isn’t without reason. Georgia Southern has built one of the strongest and most consistent offensive identities in all of college football as a team that will run an option attack right at opponents and keep running it – win or lose – until it gets results.

So, it’s a bit ironic that Georgia Southern will open up its Sun Belt Conference schedule on Saturday against a Louisiana squad that will be trying to spread the Eagles’ bread and butter onto the Paulson Stadium turf.

Sure, the Ragin’ Cajuns don’t run the triple option, but their seemingly never-ending stable of capable ball carriers have been putting up numbers over the first four weeks of play that rival some of Georgia Southern’s best showings.

Louisiana is rushing for over 300 yards per game and is currently a top-5 rushing team in the nation and leads the entire FBS with 18 rushing touchdowns over its first four games.

And the truth is, the Georgia Southern offense can’t expect to win on Saturday by beating Louisiana at its own game.

Injury questions and ongoing suspensions will continue to limit the maximum effectiveness of the Eagles’ ground game. And even with substitutes playing capably, penalties have continually killed big plays and taken points off the board for Georgia Southern further lessen the effectiveness of its offense.

While every Eagle fan – as well as the players and coaches – hope that Saturday will be a breakout game for the offense, it’s the Georgia Southern defense that could be key to notching a win and getting the Sun Belt season off to a good start.

There’s no question that stopping the ULL run game will be a challenge, but it’s also been proven that the GS defense isn’t one to give up rushing yards easily.

While each of the Eagles’ first three opponents preferred to move the ball through the air, play by the Eagles’ front seven made that their only way to consistently pick up yardage.

Georgia Southern went a long way towards getting itself back on the right track with last season’s 10-3 mark and bowl victory. But one of the common sound bytes coming out of the locker room throughout the offseason was that the team was more focused on how it finished third in its division and lost a pair of games that would have put it in position to win a Sun Belt title.

So, perhaps, it’s fitting that Saturday’s matchup will face a balance of power on opposing sides of the ball that is in stark contrast to what fans are used to seeing at Paulson Stadium.

For everything that has been gained back by the Eagles over the last 13 months, this is still an Eagle team that sits at 1-2, is expected to be a Sun Belt contender, and is an underdog that is expected to get out-rushed in its own house against a conference rival in a few days.

Maybe the GS defense will rise to the occasion and cage up the Cajuns. Maybe the offense will awake and prove that it is still a gold standard for rushing attacks. Hopefully both will happen at the same time.

But regardless of how things eventually play out, the current state of affairs holds true.

Georgia Southern is a team with a lot of promise on both sides of the ball that hasn’t shown its best in either aspect so far.

If the Eagles want to be the Sun Belt contenders they believe themselves to be, both of those units need to start living up to their potential sooner rather than later.

The Trask Train

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

“What if I told you a quarterback that hasn’t started a game since ninth grade would be the starting quarterback for the University of Florida.” Stealing the tagline for ESPN’s 30 for 30, Kyle Trask made his first start at quarterback last Saturday.

Kyle Trask, a redshirt junior, hasn’t started a football game since he was on the Freshman team at Manvel High. Trask backed up current Houston Cougars starting quarterback D’Eriq King.

Saturday that all changed, Trask led the Gators to a 34-3 routing of Tennessee. Trask went 20 for 28 with 293 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

He completed his first five passing attempts for 98 yard and most of the 98 yards were air yards, not yards after the catch.

Trask stated, “I’ve been waiting for my number to get called, and I knew I was going to be ready when my number was called.”

He came close to starting last season after playing well in relief of Feleipe Franks against Missouri, but a foot injury ended that chance.

Many fans on social media and message boards speculated that Trask would transfer to Central Michigan. Central Michigan is coached by former Florida coach Jim McElwain.

Trask has said repeatedly he never considered entering the transfer portal. That decision has paid off for both Trask and the Gators.

Trask did have three turnovers in the game. He was sacked in the first quarter and fumbled the ball. That cannot happen. The two interceptions are correctable with proper coaching.

The Florida Gators, after this week’s sacrificial lamb game against Towson, will face four games in six weeks against three teams ranked in the top 10. This stretch of games will define the Gators season and Kyle Trask.

Trask has shown in a game and a half that he is pocket passer and a willing runner.

Trask must improve his mental clock, reading coverages and blitzes. He looks too cool in the pocket with defenders bearing down on him.

He must recognize time in the pocket and either throw the ball away or run. Trask must learn to read the blitz package and get rid of the ball to appropriate receiver.

With Auburn, LSU and Georgia will Trask have enough in game experience to make good decisions? Those are the real tests.

For the Gators to be competitive against the Elite programs: Georgia and LSU, they must clean up their carelessness and bad decisions with the ball.

Simply put, they have to stop turning the ball over. Florida will not beat Auburn, LSU or Georgia if they lose the turnover battle.

In my opinion, the Gators are a better team with Kyle Trask at quarterback. His calm cool demeanor makes him QB1. October will make or break Trask.

Gator fans time to hop aboard the TRASK TRAIN.

SEC Week 3 Menu

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC kicks into full throttle this weekend with a series a good SEC matchups and then you have the monster Georgia/Notre Dame matchup to finish off a great football Saturday in the nation’s top college football conference.

Here are the games and my predictions:

Southern Miss @ (2) Alabama: In case you didn’t know Nick Saban does not like noon kickoffs.

Alabama will score early and often and Tua should have a field day on Southern Miss with Alabama’s NFL wide receiver unit. The entire Alabama WR unit could start this Sunday for the Miami Dolphins. Bama rolls 52-13.

(4) LSU @ Vanderbilt: The Tigers are feeling pretty good about themselves. Vanderbilt may make them uncomfortable for a quarter or so then LSU pulls away for a 38-17 win.

I want to see that Tiger defense improve in SEC play.

Tennessee @ (9) Florida: The Swamp has never been too kind to the Vols. Franks is done for the season and Kyle Trask is now the man in Gainesville.

Dan Mullen is paid to win football games so remember Gator Nation that there was a reason that Trask was the back-up QB.

The Gators seem to be already counting this one in the win column. My gut tells me Tennessee will play inspired football, but it also may be the burrito I ate for lunch. Florida wins 23-14.

(23) California @ Ole Miss: The Rebs should be ready for this one.

Could Cal wilt in the 90-degree heat in Oxford on Saturday? Ole Miss could make a statement and I think they will. Ole Miss 27-24.

That Ealy kid at RB is going to be a star in this league.

(8) Auburn @ (17) Texas A&M: Is Bo Nix ready for 100,000 Aggies in College Station.

The Aggies already played Clemson at Clemson and should be locked and loaded for this one.

I’m not sure Auburn can run the football consistently against a quality defense. Can Kellen Mond make plays on a good Auburn defense? I think A&M makes enough plays to beat Auburn 28-20.

Kentucky @ Mississippi State: The Cats gave away the game to Florida at home last week by playing not to lose.

Mississippi State lost at home to Kansas State and did not look good in the process. I’m not very high on MSU and I’m thinking Kentucky goes on the road and gets the win in a 20-17 type game. Both offenses may struggle in this game.

South Carolina @ Missouri: South Carolina gave up too many big plays against Alabama, and Missouri’s offense is nothing close to what Carolina witnessed last week.

Kelly Bryant is a South Carolina native playing against the Gamecocks. South Carolina needs this one more than Missouri. Give me Carolina 31-30.

San Jose State @ Arkansas: This one is going to be like two mules fighting over a turnip. These are the types of games Arkansas will lose, but maybe they are going to turn the corner with Nick Starkel at QB. Give me the Hogs 38-33.

(7) Notre Dame @ (3) Georgia: This could be the most anticipated home game in the history of UGA football.

The Irish come to Athens undefeated with Ian Book at QB. The Irish have questions stopping the run and UGA has four running backs who can start anywhere and a mammoth offensive line.

This could be the Zamir White and George Pickens coming out party. I think UGA is more talented and I’ll take Jake Fromm over Ian Book. UGA beats ND 31-21 and gets a bye week before Tennessee.

New Chomp For Gators?

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Every college football team enters a season with a plan.

Whether the plan is to contend for a national championship or merely try to make a bowl game, every team has a list of things that need to go right in order to end the season where it expects.

And without exception, a starting quarterback in a leg cast is a huge detriment to any team’s season goals, regardless of how bold or conservative they may have been.

That’s exactly where the Florida Gators now stand. The Gators opened the year with plenty of promise as veteran quarterback Feleipe Franks seemed to have Florida moving in the right direction, but Franks suffered a bad ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Gators’ victory over Kentucky in one of the first SEC games of the season.

It’s easy to cite the ‘Next Man Up’ philosophy following any injury for a collegiate football team, but Florida has a ton riding on what happens next with Franks out of the picture.

Thrust into the spotlight is redshirt junior Kyle Trask. And – in true Hollywood form – Trask immediately set about pulling the Gators out of the fire.

Florida trailed 24-10 when Franks went down, but Trask ignited the offense, engineering drives that racked up 19 unanswered points that allowed the Gators to escape Lexington with a victory, if not their health.

Trask was able to deal with the immediate problem of replacing Franks on the fly and mounting a comeback, but now sees Florida pondering how it can achieve its goals with Franks done for the season.

For the time being, things should be just fine. Trask proved that he’s capable of commanding the offense. The Gators’ schedule also helps out as Florida hosts Tennessee – which is off to a nightmarish start – this week before taking on Towson out of the FCS next week.

Following that, the real tests begin.

Florida will face Auburn, LSU and Georgia in a four-game stretch that will cover all of October. That would have been a tall order even with the entire depth chart intact, but now the Gators have the task of navigating that top-10 minefield with a backup quarterback.

If nothing else, Trask is at least the same imposing physical figure that Franks was. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 235 pounds, Trask looked poised in hitting on 9-of-13 passing and bowling in for a rushing touchdown against Kentucky.

Replacing Franks’ big arm might not be possible, but there’s a chance that the injury might force the Gators into a more consistent attack, which is what their fans have been hoping for all along. The playbook will be limited in the coming weeks, but that could be a blessing in disguise.

Most agree that the Gators have top-10 talent all over the field, but that hasn’t shown on the offensive side of the ball in big games.

It may have taken a bad break – literally – but Franks’ injury could unwittingly force Florida into a new offensive direction that keeps them near the top of the rankings and allows them to remain as the only real threat to Georgia in the SEC East.

Pink Eyed

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have been a sports fan for the better part of thirty-five years, but over the past few years my enthusiasm has waned.

In part because of the antics that take place within schools, organizations, and players, but also because of the fans; when we get things wrong, we really get them wrong.

However, when fan interaction culminates into what took place in Athens for the Georgia/Arkansas State game, it shows that when we do get it right, we can make an impact.

Georgia’s impromptu “Pink Out” in honor of Wendy Anderson- the wife of Arkansas State’s Head Coach Blake Anderson- who passed away from breast cancer in August not only says a lot about the Georgia fan base (I’ll get to that in a second), but was also a significant gesture.

For one, this wasn’t proposed by the team being directly impacted by Anderson’s passing; it was done by the opposing school, with little to no ties to the program they were about to face. It’s one thing to participate in a cause someone else has put together, it’s something else entirely to be the place where the idea originates from.

Secondly, the fact it was done by Georgia brought an awareness to the story that frankly, Arkansas State would never be able to replicate.

Outside of the money raised from the pink t-shirts sold for the game, it’s difficult to know exactly how many donations came in solely because of the story’s exposure; I imagine it had to be a decent number though.

It’s like the difference between your local pizza place holding a fundraiser for an employee and Pizza Hut having one for that same employee. Suddenly. a story that had local roots was able to branch out nationwide.

Obviously, the Georgia fans- in particular the Bulldogs’ Battling Breast Cancer who initiated everything- deserve the credit for putting this together, something that has become somewhat of a norm in Athens.

Whether it’s the already planned “Pink Out” game scheduled for October, raising money for an assistant coach of an opposing team whose daughter was suffering from a rare genetic condition, or helping out their own former players, it seems pretty evident the UGA fan base does a good job of helping others in need.

I realize this type of assistance takes place at most programs across the country, but unfortunately most of those acts of kindness don’t get much publicity, and I thought this was more than deserving.

I also understand this type of loss is something that almost everyone has gone through at some point in their lives; many of whom don’t have the social support structure to help when it does occur.

It’s why things like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Pink Out are so important; not only does it help raise money, but it lets people know there are things being done on their behalf.

No one would have blinked an eye or thought any less of Georgia had they just done a moment of silence in Wendy Anderson’s honor and then moved on to the game. Instead, they decided to go above and beyond and do something about it.

As fans, we like to preach about how sports can bring communities together, but are often slow to follow through. That wasn’t the case in Athens. For once, it was nice to see fans practice what they preach.

Rocky Slop

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Here is a question I have pondered for two weeks now.

Will the University of Tennessee football program be the Tennessee we once knew ever again?

Jeremy Pruitt has only coached 14 games in Knoxville and you get the feeling his job is on the line.

The Volunteers are 5-9 under Pruitt, and the program seems like it can’t get out of its own way.

It is bad enough to lose at home to Georgia State a team UT was favored to beat by 26 points, but to top that off Tennessee snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory last weekend against BYU with less than 20 seconds left in the contest.

The Vols gave up a tying FG and then folded in overtime to the Cougars.

What is wrong with this program? Here are my thoughts:

Recruiting: Tennessee does not recruit on a high level like it once did.

The Volunteers don’t even get the top players in Tennessee any longer. That used to be a given.

In the 1990’s Tennessee used to be a national brand in recruiting. The Vols dipped into New Orleans and plucked Peyton Manning. They dipped into Mobile, Alabama and plucked Tee Martin. Tennessee dipped into Georgia and grabbed Jamal Lewis, and had a foothold in the Atlanta area, and would cherry pick, Florida, Texas, and California.

That brand is gone now, but it must be rebuilt. Nashville is a growing city and High School football in that city is pretty good, but Georgia, Alabama, and LSU are more likely to pull a high ranked player out of Nashville than the University of Tennessee. That is totally unacceptable.

Head Coaching: The last three hires have been a nightmare. Lane Kiffin came in and threw discipline out with the bath water. Derek Dooley was a last resort because nobody wanted the job, and Butch Jones just could not bring the consistency needed to lead a program like Tennessee. Now Jeremy Pruitt, who was hand-picked by Phillip Fulmer, seems to be struggling as well.

Phillip Fulmer: This may not be popular, but I think Tennessee needs a clean break from the old guard in Knoxville and that starts with Phillip Fulmer, who at almost 70 years old needs to enjoy his family and grandchildren.

Fulmer, learned how to coach under Johnny Majors and then turned around and helped push King Johnny out the door in 1992 so he could take over, needs to be pushed out to pasture now for a permanent retirement.

He has been a great ambassador for the University but it is time for a fresh start in Knoxville. Making Fulmer AD was a temporary solution, and a not permanent one.

Fulmer led UT to great things in the 1990’s, but 1998 was 21 years ago. A fresh approach is needed.

Tennessee’s 0-2 start is as ugly as it gets. The program hasn’t started 0-2 since 1988. The Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama games don’t look winnable right now.

Right now, the Vols are facing a must win scenario against Chattanooga Saturday to possibly avoid a disastrous 1-6 start.

The Flag Ship University in the State of Tennessee facing a must win against UTC is blasphemy.

Tennessee Football is currently like an abandoned factory in the Rust Belt. Once a symbol of manufacturing greatness, but now in decay. The University of Tennessee football program needs to modernize into the 21st Century.

On December 31, 2019 the worst decade in Tennessee football history will mercifully end. Will this proud program swallow its pride and make the changes needed to be relevant again?

I hope so a win in Knoxville used to mean something, but everyone seems to be winning there now.

UT was once here before and in 1977 brought in a Vol legend Johnny Majors to rebuild the brand. When will it be “Football Time in Tennessee” again?

It wasn’t a quick fix in 1977 and it won’t be now, but it can be done. The SEC misses and needs a relevant Big Orange.

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