Tennessee Football: Vols fans hope coaches learned from Florida mistakes

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the inside of Neyland Stadium during a game between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the inside of Neyland Stadium during a game between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images) /

Play-calling cost Tennessee football the game against the Florida Gators. Saturday’s game against UMass gives the coaching staff time to figure things out.

Related Story: 5 Vols to watch for vs. UMass

There’s no way Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones is ignoring his hot seat talk. Why do you think he always look nervous on the sidelines?

No one will ever forget the horrible, horrible play-calling from Butch Jones and his staff in the game at Florida. It’s all anyone involved with the SEC is talking about. While defensive coordinator, Bob Shoop, gave a somewhat redeeming explanation of the last play call to SEC media, we can’t help but wonder if we’ll see better calling against the Massachusetts Minutemen.

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This game is one that Tennessee football desperately needs. UMass currently has a record of 0-4. And, I’d be willing to bet lots of money they will be 0-5 after Saturday. But, it doesn’t change the fact that the Vols can’t get a grip on the tools they have until late in the game.

Their offense usually comes out weak. Consider the fact that most of UT’s points this season have been scored in 4th quarter play. Last Saturday against the Gators, the third quarter finished at 3-6. Additionally, the Vols only managed 14 points by the 3rd quarter against Ga. Tech but finished with 42 points by second OT.

Indiana St. is the only game where scoring was consistent. Ty Chandler gave the Vols incredible momentum by starting the game with a 96 yard kickoff return. Still, Quinten Dormady looked gun-shy. In the first quarter, they only managed 14 points after Josh Palmer was wide open down the field for a touchdown and Dormady completely over threw.

Not to mention, this was a drive that took a highly touted Tennessee football offense 11 plays to get down the field for 6. The offense (in the beginning of their games) has been readable and one dimensional on many levels.

But then, a rhythm sets in. Tennessee starts to pick up, Dormady starts to connect his passes and the O line creates the block for an amazing run game.

It’s time for Tennessee to come out strong.

I’m not saying they should be scoring on every drive. But, no one should surprised if they do. UMass is currently playing worse than Indiana St. This is an opportunity for the coaching staff to open the play book.

We can assume they’ve learned their lessons from last week and now get the chance to experiment against a poor Independent team. Butch Jones has also confirmed we’ll be seeing two quarterbacks play in this game, as Jarrett Guarantano has “earned the right to play” from practice reps.

Tennessee has had a lot of issues finding passes downfield. Florida lost seven defensive starters to the draft last year and allowed 400+ yards to Michigan in their season opener. They’re not that good. Still, the Vols could find hardly any passes downfield in Gainesville.

I can’t imagine UMass will present much of a pass rush, especially with how much they struggled against Coastal Carolina. This should allow both Dormady and Guarantano to get respectable reps and become more comfortable analyzing defensive schemes.

The defense will be fine. They’ve actually been getting a lot better whether people want to believe it or not. If you don’t consider the final Hail Mary, Florida only received just over 300 yards while Tennessee racked up 442. Indiana St. only managed 215 yards and was 0-11 on third down conversions. Tennessee racked up double their yardage with nearly 400.

The defense is doing it’s job but has to continue presenting a pass rush. This will be the opportunity to break out of conservative spread coverage and throw in some aggressive blitzing.

Final Thought?

After this week, Tennessee football will hit the throttle into SEC play with Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky. These are two home games, then two very tough road games. Georgia is a huge opponent, especially given the circumstances.

Believe it or not, Tennessee could still win the East. The most important thing now is to win out in the East. Could you imagine if the Vols turn the tables from last year? What if, despite the miraculous Hail Mary victory, the Vols sweep the conference away from the Gators…

Before thinking about that, though, Georgia is a new kind of monster. They present a bigger threat than Florida ever could. The circumstances are dire.

Next: 4 things Butch Jones should have to do to keep his job

While Tennessee football fortunately has the 12th man on their side in Neyland Stadium, the coaching staff needs to figure their stuff out this week against UMass. If they don’t, it could prove disastrous for the season and for personnel.