Well first things first... I am ecstatic to see that my next flight is going to Knoxville. I remember when you guys killed us, in I think 105 degree heat.. Smoky passed out i believe. Among the heat, Tennessee, in my opinion, has the best fans in the world. Nicest, most loyal, and football knowledgeable (All three of those traits are lacking for that school across the street... something like $UC or something...) Win, or lose, I can probably be guaranteed a good time.
I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible... it probably won't be though.
The Good for the Vols:
1. UCLA is a bunch of freshmen. Basically, without the players to interfere, Neyland should make a big enough difference to change the game-plan with almost all freshmen on the line and backfield. On the other hand, it would seem as if Kevin Prince got all of his Freshmen jitters out in the opening game (fumbling snaps, bad progressions).
2. Revenge factor, this one could go either way, and everyone has heard about the Labor Day disappointment, and then UCLA went on to lose 59-0 the next week to a non-BCS team (so sad for the SEC and the Vols, and OU now). Plus everyone knows how Kiffin has dominated Karl "Doperell", which has always been a pretty task, no matter how good the players (Example: UCLA’s only 10 win season under Dorrell was when UCLA had Maurice Jones-Drew, Drew Olson, & Marcedes Lewis, in which USC won 66-19, the rest were around 500 seasons).
Bad News Bears for the Vols:
1. UCLA’s Offensive Line:
UCLA recruited, transfered around, and look, they put together a pretty good O-Line. Last week had just about the biggest holes I have ever seen in the new Millennium for UCLA, but the true story was Pass Protection. UCLA’s OFFENSIVE LINE, did not give up a sack all game, but the extra blockers with a little less size got beat by blitzing backers in the 3-3-5, causing Prince to scramble, and not throw an interception, notice how I said did not throw an interception instead of getting sacked, because well, Craft would have done that, hence: 4 INT’s – 1 Half. I think there will be a sack or two, but nothing that will force Prince into a breakdown like Craft had.
2. UCLA has a run offense
2a: This offense will warm you up with Jonathan Franklin, hit you in the mouth with Derrick Coleman, and mix in some speed with Milton Knox. Sure, they haven’t seen much adversity, but the concept still exists and probably will work.
2b: Passing, UCLA only had to use 2 receivers on many plays, to get more protection, and still tore up a 3-3-5 defense. (For those of you who don’t know, 3-3-5 stops runs up the middle, can provide blitzing angles from one to all of the 5 "linebackers", and defends in a lot of man coverage). Those two receivers were Terence Austin, and Taylor Embree (for the most part), and the specialty receivers didn’t even get a chance to catch the ball.
3. UCLA’s Defense is MUCH better than last year. SDSU shouldn’t have scored 14 points, or 7 for that matter, but that’s not the point. The defensive line lost one, but gained the new Brian Price, and even more tenacity and speed. Price took up 3 blockers, and don’t you DARE tell me he’s overrated, because he’s not. The LB’s are better than most teams in the PAC 10 and Tennessee too, IMHO. Carter is just a vacuum, and Bosworth has improved 200 percent, Ayers is still in the learning, but raw talent has shown a lot. The DB’s are sprinkled with POTW honors (Rahim Moore w/ 3 INT’s last week), All American Honors (Alterraun Verner, ya there’s not too much to say… he’s ATV), hmm, sounds a lot like some team that is from Tennessee… hmm…
Coaching: Neuheisel vs. Kiffin
Personally, I think this might be worth more than just 7 points, (it worked for 17 last year for UCLA), Chow was testing the offense last week, he challenged them to run between the tackles. Looking at it in numbers, its 3-4 blockers vs. 5-7 defenders, and they responded with the biggest amount of yardage since he got there. That would even out, in my opinion, for talent & numbers because Tennessee>SDSU right? But everyone knows. Chow also powdered Prince with plenty of underneath routes, rarely challenging deep, not because of lack of "cahones", but necessity, due to coverage types, and good reads.
I’m gonna get hell for this, but IMHO, Neuheisel>Kiffin (Kiffin is the Lavin of College Football, look Lavin up…) Limiting the offensive and defensive aggression worked out REALLY WELL, so what happens when he turns the keys over to Chow completely? Kiffin didn’t hold back (63-3 right?), so UCLA has film now (lol, I’m sure he’s got more than just the plays that beat the Hilltoppers)
UCLA will have troubles early, just like last year, but Tennessee will maybe face 2 more defenses with the same veteran crews as UCLA. iT WILL BE A SLOPPY GAME. Both teams will experience offensive problems, mostly UCLA because well… they’re all freshmen, and Orange is a pretty distracting color. But UCLA’s defense should hold Tennessee’s offense for quite a long time, because Crompton doesn’t backpedal… and backpedal… and backpedal like SDSU’s QB did, and he’ll get sacked more than he would like to be. The DB’s will force turnovers, stalemating both sides right?
Let’s look at stars:
Austin cancels out your wide receiver… Rodgers right?
Verner & Price cancel out Berry (Ya he’s a beast)
It can’t end 0-0, but special teams could end up, again, deciding the game. Kai Forbath is the best kicker in the nation.
That was the optimistic Bruin.
Now for reality.
UCLA has many things to fix, Tennessee doesn't.
Tennessee has experience, UCLA doesn't.
Tennessee has around 100,000 crazy fans, UCLA never will.
There is a fairly good chance UCLA will get blown out, but what can you base that on?
WKU doesn't have exactly what you would like to call a stingy defense... they have well... not really that much.
Kiffin and Co. can run up the score on WKU, but uh... so can UCLA.
My advice to you, Vol Nation, is to not take Crompton, and to the level of different... well, better players around the league. They haven't proved anything yet but that's what they think too. They want to prove they're for real. Which is why the ball will bounce towards the Vols.
I'm not saying that UCLA is going to lose... I never will, but they very well might score less points than their opponent in this game.
Well all game tempers aside, hopefully I'll see some of the Rockytoptalk nation at Calhoun's on Friday!