Alabama and Tennessee meet for 100th time

Tennessee (3-3) and No. 1 Alabama (7-0) will meet for the 100th time on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The third Saturday in October is typically a top-25 matchup, but this year has a different feel to the game. Alabama opened as a 34-point favorites, and Tennessee has not beaten the Crimson Tide since 2006.

The series has not been competitive as of late, and the closest meeting in the past 10 years was in 2009 when Lane Kiffin led the Vols into Tuscaloosa and lost by two points. Butch Jones and the Vols have been rather close in a couple games, but for the most part, the outcome has gone in Alabama’s favor.

Nick Saban has the SEC by the horns, and until he leaves, the Crimson Tide will keep on rolling over the conference — and the rest of the nation. Saban is a mastermind in college football, and he grabs the opponent by its throat and exposes its weaknesses. Alabama is once again the reigning SEC champion and the front-runner to return to the National Championship game. The Tide have outscored opponents 193-31 in four conference games thus far, and have only allowed three touchdowns in four games.

If you are Tennessee, that is not what you want to hear. The Vols have not scored a touchdown since late in the second quarter against UMass. Tennessee has been lackluster this season in stretching the field vertically, as the Vols longest passes have come on yards after catch, the majority of them by star running back John Kelly.

Tennessee’s keys to success:

Over-and-over it seems Tennessee is put on a pedestal by the Crimson Tide, and spanked in front of the nation, as Alabama annually embarrasses Tennessee year in and year out. There might not be much Jones and the Vols can do this year to contend with the Tide, nonetheless beat them. If they want to pull off the upset and snap the 10-game winning streak Nick Saban holds over them, these are the keys to success.

Butch Jones needs to watch the tape on the past two national championships. Jones needs to let Guarantano loose and stretch the field both vertically, and horizontally. Vertically, Alabama is certainly beatable — every big game the Tide has lost, their opponent has thrown for a ton of yards.

Tennessee needs to ride John Kelly for at least 25 carries. Kelly is not touching the ball enough, and he is the Vols best player. Once the run game opens up for Tennessee, it will be able stretch the field horizontally with new starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Alabama did it last year with Jalen Hurts in Neyland Stadium when Hurts ran for 132 yards and three touchdowns.

Alabama’s keys to success:

This is a mean Alabama team, and it’s hard to find things that Tennessee, or any other team can do to beat them. The Crimson Tide shouldn’t have to kick it into overdrive this game in order to beat Tennessee by a couple touchdowns, but crazier things have happened. Clemson recently went down to Syracuse on Friday night, and Washington State was blown out on the same night.

Alabama’s keys to success will simply be sticking to its 2016 script against Tennessee. The Tide ran for 409 yards and averaged 8.5 yards per carry last year. Running back Bo Scarbrough ran for 109 yards and had a game-long 85-yard run to crush Tennessee’s spirits. Scarbrough will be looking for the same kind of success this year, as he only had five carries last year, averaging 21.8 yards-per-carry.

Crimson Tide star running back Damien Harris carried the football 14 times last year for 94 yards against Tennessee. Alabama simply needs to run the same plays they did last year and they will be just fine. Hurts recorded 185 passing yards a season ago against Tennessee, so they shouldn’t have to throw the ball too many times.

Prediction

Absolutely nobody is giving Tennessee a chance in this game. This game isn’t for Butch Jones, it is for the players. Alabama wins, 35-6.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

Tennessee volleyball defeats Missouri in four sets

Tennessee volleyball defeated the Missouri Tigers 3-1 on Sunday afternoon inside Thompson-Boling Arena. The win marks Tennessee’s first win over Missouri since a 3-2 win on Oct. 5, 2012 in Knoxville. Entering the match, Missouri ranked third in the SEC standings.

Tennessee (10-7, 3-5 SEC) won the opening set 25-22 in thrilling fashion. With 12 ties and six lead changes, the Lady Vols were able to come out on top behind strong blocking to hold off the Missouri attack. In addition, the Lady Vols were offensively sound with 13 team kills. They were led in defense by junior Erica Treiber and redshirt sophomore Breana Jeter, who combined for seven blocks in the set.

The Lady Vols extended their lead to 2-0, as they won the second set 25-20. The home side continued their dominance on both sides of the net, finishing with 16 team kills and five team blocks in the set.

Missouri (12-8, 5-2 SEC) would take the third set 25-17. Down 2-3 in the set, the Tigers went on a 9-0 scoring run and never looked back. Mizzou finished the set with 14 team kills. They were led in attack by Leketo Member-Meneh who had 14 kills behind 31 attacks after three sets.

Tennessee finished off the match winning the fourth and final set, 25-21. After going down 13-15, a crucial timeout allowed the Lady Vols to regroup and score two straight points after the break. The home side continued their strong defensive play with four team blocks in the set. One of the blocks came at a pivotal moment when sophomore Tessa Grubbs and Treiber teamed up to block a Missouri attack to earn match point. An error by Missouri’s Sydney Deeken would end the match.

Tennessee held off a strong Missouri attack to finish the match with 14 team blocks. Treiber led the Vols both offensively and defensively finishing the match with 15 kills and eight blocks.

Despite finishing the match with 58 team kills behind 153 team attacks, the Tigers committed too many errors. Five different Missouri players combined for 35 errors.

Tennessee is currently on a two-game win streak, and will look to build on its momentum as they travel to Lexington. The Lady Vols will face No. 8 Kentucky on Sunday, Oct. 22. The match will air at 1:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ on WatchESPN.

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

Edited by Ben McKee

Tennessee volleyball defeats Georgia in five sets

Tennessee (9-7, 2-5 SEC) defeated Georgia 3-2 on Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. The win marks Tennessee’s first road win of the season.

Georgia (12-7, 2-4 SEC) dominated the opening set, winning 25-15. The Bulldogs got the offense rolling finishing the set with 16 team kills. The Vols committed eight errors in the set and were unable to keep pace offensively, producing only seven kills. Georgia’s offense was led by T’ara Ceasar and Rachel Ritchie who combined for 12 kills behind 23 attacks.

The Lady Vols would take the second set 25-23. In a set that featured 11 ties and three lead changes, the score remained close until the end when Ceasar had an attack error that allowed Tennessee to win set point.

Georgia took a 2-1 lead in the match after winning the third set 25-17. The Lady Vols six errors cost them several point opportunities. Georgia maintained it’s strong offensive play finishing the set with 17 team kills.

In the fourth set, Tennessee would win 27-25 to even the match at 2-2. The Lady Vols were defensively sound with five team blocks in the set. Tennessee had trouble finishing out the set when sophomore Sedona Hansen committed a net violation allowing Georgia to tie things up at 24-24. The Vols allowed Georgia to tie the set again at 25-25 before two straight kills from senior Stephanie Buss and sophomore Tessa Grubbs forced the match into a fifth set.

Tennessee took the fifth set 15-5. Georgia ran out of gas offensively, as they produced only three team kills. The Vols finished the set with 10 team kills.

Stephanie Buss and Tessa Grubbs finished the match with a combined 29 kills behind 65 attacks. Sophomore Sedona Hansen and freshman Callie Williams set up play successfully throughout the match combining for 58 assists.

With the win, Tennessee picks up its second conference win this season. The win also marked Tennessee’s first conference road win since defeating Alabama in straight sets on Oct. 28, 2016, in Tuscaloosa.

The Lady Vols will look to build off their momentum, as they return home to host Missouri on Sunday afternoon inside Thompson-Boling Arena. The match will air at 1:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

No. 21 Tennessee defeats No. 24 Ole Miss

No. 21 Tennessee defeated No. 24 Ole Miss 6-4 on Thursday night at Regal Soccer Stadium. After back-to-back road games, the Lady Vols returned for their first home game since tying with Auburn 1-1 in overtime on Sept. 21.

Tennessee (11-1-1, 3-1-1 SEC) started the game out strong with an early goal in the 13th minute by junior Khadija Shaw. Shaw’s goal was her 10th of the season, a team-best. A minute later, redshirt junior Anna Bialczak would quickly extend the Lady Vols lead to 2-0 with her third goal of the season. In the 23rd minute, junior Rylie O’Keefe put away her second goal of the season to extend Tennessee’s lead to 3-0.

Ole Miss (9-3-1, 2-3-0 SEC) never gave up and would get on the scoresheet with Grace Johnson’s goal in the 24th minute, cutting the Tennessee lead to 3-1.

The goals continued in the second half when O’Keefe scored again in the 50th minute to put the Vols up 4-1. Ole Miss would then add two goals in the 52nd minute, and 56th minute to keep the game close at 4-3. With the two goals, Channing Foster and CeCe Kizer have now combined for 22 goals on the season for Ole Miss.

Tennessee extended it’s lead to 5-3 in the 57th minute with Bialczak’s second goal of the night. Junior Danielle Marcano would then score her first goal of the season in the 75th minute to make it 6-3. Marcano’s goal would give the Vols their sixth and final goal of the game. Ole Miss added another goal in the 82nd minute, as Rebels Ella Johnson sent in a long-distance shot.

In this game, Ole Miss gave up six goals which is more than they have given up all season. In turn, Tennessee gave up four goals on the night equaling the amount of goals given up all season.

The Lady Vols continue to impress this season with only one loss to No. 3 South Carolina. Tennessee will head back on the road on Sunday afternoon to face Missouri in Columbia. The game will air at 2 p.m. ET on SECN+.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

Five takeaways from Butch Jones’ weekly press conference

Butch Jones took the podium this afternoon in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio for a Wednesday edition of his weekly press conference. This week features Jones’ recap of the double-overtime thriller in Atlanta and which players will need to step up against Indiana State. These are the five biggest takeaways from what Jones and his players had to say.

Guarantano is just “one snap away”

Jones consistently relayed the message that while Dormady was the starter in Monday’s win over the Yellow Jackets, Guarantano is one play away from his opportunity. “Sometimes you’re antsy to play, but we always tell him he’s one snap away,” said Jones. He stated that Dormady and Guarantano would “continue to compete” as the season goes on. In the win over Georgia Tech, Guarantano didn’t see the field.

Playmakers arise in thrilling double-overtime win

Jones shed light on the impressive play of true freshman offensive linemen Trey Smith, as well as senior center Jashon Robertson. These guys were the glue of the offensive line on Monday night.

Linebacker Daniel Bituli received high praise from Jones following his 23 tackles performance against Georgia Tech. “It was a big spark to get Bituli in,” stated Jones who also praised Bituli’s ability to play the MIKE and SAM position at linebacker.

Receiver Marquez Callaway was the talk of the press conference, but none of his fellow teammates or Jones were surprised about his dominant performance on Monday night.

Quarterback Quentin Dormady noted that Callaway is, “one of the hardest working players on the team.”

Jones also added that walk-on defensive lineman Paul Bain’s game-saving block against the Yellow Jackets was extremely rewarding and spoke on the amount of respect he has for Bain. The walk-on works two jobs – at Champs and on a farm where he grinds horse feed – in order to pay for school.

Fellow defensive lineman Darrell Taylor was also applauded by Jones for his 12 tackle performance and the way he was a leader along the defensive line.

Injury updates

Jones started off the press conference by saying that suspended offensive tackle Drew Richmond would be available for practice and for Saturday’s game against Indiana State. Defensive tackles Shy Tuttle and Kendal Vickers are both listed as questionable, as well as receiver Josh Smith. Jones didn’t give a timetable of return for receiver Jauan Jennings after the wrist injury he suffered against Georgia Tech. Jennings is expected to be out for up to 12 weeks due to a dislocated elbow.

Who’s stepping up in place of Jennings

Both Jones and Dormady called on freshman receiver Josh Palmer to step up in the absence of Jennings. The Vols seemed to have found their number one guy after Callaway’s performance, but the battle for the rest of the depth chart is still alive. Jones said that the 6-foot-6-inch senior Jeff George would get a chance to put himself in the mix and make the best of his opportunity.

Dormady remains confident in the offense

Dormady blamed his early game struggles against the Yellow Jackets on a difference in game rhythm. “It wasn’t nerves,” said Dormady, “but after halftime we settled down.” He called on Josh Palmer as a player that can possibly step up along with Callaway at wide receiver. “You saw some of what Callaway can do, now Josh Palmer can step up and show what he can do,” Dormady said. It is clear that Dormady is antsy to get back on the practice field and get things fixed after a shaky start to the 2017 season.

By the Numbers: South Carolina’s defense in the NCAA Tournament

South Carolina entered the tournament as one of the best defensive teams in the field. It’s no surprise the Gamecocks defense ignited their run to the program’s first Final Four.

Let’s take a look at the some defensive numbers from South Carolina during the NCAA Tournament.

17: The Gamecocks have forced 17 turnovers per game through their first four games of the tournament. After causing Marquette and Duke to cough it up 18 times a piece, South Carolina followed that up with back to back games of forcing 16 turnovers against both Baylor and Florida. Throughout the tournament, opposing offense have looked extremely uncomfortable and out of sync, which is indicative by the turnover numbers. Ironically, this number doesn’t even match South Carolina’s regular season average of 17.3, which ranked second nationally.

12.3: Average turnovers per game by South Carolina opponents during the regular reason. Duke (11.4), Florida (12.0) and Marquette (12.4) all ranked in the Top 100 in the NCAA.

39: South Carolina’s four opponents combined to score 39 points less than their regular season average. This number is highlighted by the 70-50 victory over Baylor, in which the Bears fell 22 points below their average. Marquette entered the tournament scoring around 82 points a game before the opening round 93-73

40%: Opponents have combined to shoot only 40 percent against South Carolina during the tournament. After Marquette made 46.3 percent of its shots in the opening round, the following three teams shot 41.3 percent (Duke), 30.4 percent (Baylor) and 41.7 percent (Florida). During the regular season, each of the three teams listed shot 45 percent or better.

54: In the second half, South Carolina has outscored its four opponents by a total of 54 points. While this isn’t necessarily a defensive stat, it was the Gamecocks defense that allowed them to outscore Marquette 54-33 in the final 20 minutes. It was the defense that allowed South Carolina to score 65 in the second half of comeback victory over Duke, despite also giving up 51. It was the defensive adjustments that led to the come from behind Elite Eight win over Florida as South Carolina outscored the Gators 44-30 in the final 20.

9-of-39: During the opening weekend, South Carolina allowed both Marquette and Duke to make double digit three pointers. This stat served as the lone weakness of the Gamecocks defense during the first two games. Who knows what adjustments Frank Martin made to limit the damage from behind the arc, but Baylor and Florida combined to make only nine of 39 attempts. This comes out to a 23 percent rate. In the win over the Gators, Florida knocked down seven threes in the first half. During the final 20 minutes, South Carolina held the Gators to 0-of-14 from distance, a big factor towards the Gamecocks comeback efforts.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image obtained via creativecommons.org