NCAA 2011 Preview: UT Martin

[Bobo's NCAA season series is back! -- Ed.]

I decided to do the UT-Martin game well ahead of schedule, simply because I could and to get everyone in a good football mood. Oh, that and to work out the kinks in the system -- EA Sports totally nerfed saving highlights (or, well, I haven't figured it out, might be because I'm using an arcade system at the moment) so I'll be videoing highlights with my webcam to embed. Hopefully it's not too horrible -- but see that ugly glare from the window on the screen?! I'll be sure to have that fixed by the Oregon game!

The UT-Martin team I played against is one that I made based off of a "cupcake" template with Teambuilder and with the 2009 Stats and current roster of the UT-Martin football team. (They return their top three tacklers, by the way, their best had 107 last year, 16.5 for a loss.) Note that while I tried to do as good as job as I could with those two resources, I didn't edit the stats for any of the players and many are likely out of position or aren't the starters. The Offensive Line is just put together with "upperclassmen are better and are starters" mentality and the defensive positions are filled by looking at returning tacklers and filling in best players at their positions and going from there.

Game after the Jump. Jump! Whee!!!


Thursday, August 26th. It's football time, people. The marquee game of the first day features Pittsburgh at Utah. Pittsburgh held a 14-10 fourth quarter leader but Utah scored the game's last 16 points in an eight-minute span to win 26-14. Three Utah turnovers and a horrible running game kept the Panthers in the game, but the Ute's Wynn completed 20 of 30 passes for 215 yards and a pair of scores to drive his team to their first victory. Granted, he was driven into the dirt for 5 sacks, but hey – a win is a win!


The rest of the Thursday-Friday games went as should be expected, except that South Carolina actually won (I know, I was shocked too!), which set up a noon kickoff for visiting UT Martin to Neyland stadium. The weather drew up a clear, sunny gameplan and the crowd was abuzz as the Vols entered the field. The Vols won the toss and decided to take the ball immediately!


Oku took the kickoff from the 12 yard line and ran up 20 yards to the 32 before he was taken down. Poole took the first handoff out of the I-formation and went straight up the middle for a gain of 5 before UTM's Kendell Harper, Safety, made the tackle. On second down Jones and Moore lined up weak-side on the I and the Skyhawks showed blitz. Moore went into motion and Simms dropped back to pass. Neither of the receivers were able to create separation and Simms had to try and throw the ball away but ::gulp:: was flagged for Intentional Grounding on his first pass for Tennessee.Josh Bey, UTM's leading tackler a year ago (with 107 tackles!) helped cause the pressure along with Senior Tim Cox from his defensive end position. It would wind up being a loss of 16, bringing up 3rd and 21. Simms lined up in shotgun with 3 WRs bunched to the right side but nobody could get open and Cox again caused pressure, leaving Simm's pass to Hunter high enough to allow for #18 Runako Brown to bat the pass down harmlessly. Cunningham's punt ended up at UTM's 35 yard line.


The Skyhawks came out in a Strong-I look and handed off to the right to #25 Jason McNair, but Prentis Waggner and LaMarcus Thompson combined to stuff the play for a gain of 1 at most. Tennessee showed a 3-4 to the I-formation on the next play and a draw play was blown up by Chris Walker for a loss of 2, bringing up 3rd down and 12. UTM lined up in shotgun with two Rbs and picked up a Tennessee blitz by Jackson and Anderson wonderfully. Martin's Carr completed his pass to a wide-open Taylor Stanley, but the pass was right along the sideline and Stanley was out of bounds after a gain of 11. 4th down! The ensuing punt was shanked and Tennessee would take over at their own 40 yard line with 3:03 left in the first quarter.


Tennessee ran wide with Poole on first down, but a solid tackle stopped him for a gain of just 2 yard. On second down Poole was again given the ball from a strong-i look, and this time a hole opened up for him on the left side of the line. Poole made a great cutback after picking up 6 to blow by two defenders and UTM's last hope in Harper whiffed on his tackle and just like that Poole was gone 59 yards for a Tennessee Touchdown! 7-0 Tennessee with 2:29 left in the first.


Cunningham's kick was taken in the endzone for a touchback, and on 1st down a hand-off to fullback Jason Perry was stopped by Huggs after a gain of 3, but a false start by UTM made it 2nd and 12. The Skyhawks lined up in the shotgun and Tennessee dropped 9 back into coverage. With 3 blockers against him Montario Huggs managed to force his way to Carr and hammered him for a sack and a loss of seven! On third down UTM went shotgun again and Carr's pass over the middle was nearly intercepted by Waggner, but it fell incomplete. Moore took the ensuing punt from UTM's 45 and brought it back to the 40 for Simms and company to take over.


One first down the play-action went to Poole and Simms tried for the long ball, overshooting Jones in the endzone. The coverage was pretty good, too. Tennessee also had some personnel issues and had to call timeout, which really just means I accidentally called one. Second down! Oku came in on the next play and took a toss play to the right, gaining just two yards. On 3rd and 8 Tennessee lined up in shotgun with 4 wrs. Simm's pass found Hunter over the middle on a slant and the WR immediately split a pair of defenders to easilly pick up the first on a gain of 16. Shotgun was again the call for the next play but Bey swatted down an attempt at a middle-screen to Gerald Jones. Poole took the next carry for a tough-earned 3 yards. Tennessee came out in a 3-WR Ace formation and dropped back to pass and threw for a streaking Moore, dropping the ball right in over UTM's Dereck Welch for a 19 yard touchdown! At the end of the first quarter the score was 14-0 Tennessee.

 UT-UTM NCAA 11 Moore TD (via bobothebee)

UTM's Milligan returned the ball up from the 3 to the 22 for the Skyhawk's third drive.They went to McNair once again and Gerald Williams made a big play, beating his man off the line and crushing McNair down for a loss of 4 yards. On second down Thompson came free on a blitz, hitting Carr right as he threw it but he still completed the pass to his TE Kelton Hall – or would have, if Nick Reviez hadn't hit the poor fella right as he tried to tuck the ball away and the ball to the ground, making it 3rd down and 14. There was no 3rd-and-Chavis here: Tennessee sent seven men on a blitz but that left Senior WR Bryant Milligan wide open for a 34 yard gain over the middle. FB Perry took the next handoff to the weak side for a gain of 5 and on second down UTM tried the option: bad idea, Lathers smacked Carr down before he could pitch it for a loss of two and at least three "Ows!" A third-down pass was broken up by Anderson and UTM would punt from Tennessee's 46. Moore, for some reason, fielded the ball at the 4 yard line and got only 3 yards to give the Vols horrible field position with 3:18 left in the half.


Poole went absolutely nowhere on first down as he tried to cut a dive play wide, and on second down Chaney called in a pass play. Good idea: Luke Stocker caught it over the middle and gained 21 yards with it. On the next play Simms would again throw, this time finding Jones on a pretty pass on a corner route for a gain of 27. Continuing with the theme the Vols then lined up with 4 Wrs in shotgun and sent them all on vertical routes. Simms was hit by Cox as he thew and Moore couldn't secure a leaping grab in the endzone. Second down. Poole took the next toss for a gain of two, bringing up 3rd and 8. With nobody to throw the ball to out of the shotgun Simms decided to run for the first down, easily getting it with a gain of 14 before he had to slide down to prevent a hit. Poole was given the ball on a draw from Shotgun next, and he wove through the defense wonderfully going left then right and getting some great downfield blocks, punctuating the play with a Hardesty-esque spin move on Harper, who he beat for his first score, to pick up an additional 12 yards before being pushed out by #35 Jonathon Utley at the three for a total gain of 27. Oku was given the ball on first and goal for a gain of two, and on the next play he was able to walk into the endzone to make the score Tennessee 21, UTM 0 with 38 seconds left in the 2nd quarter.


Cunningham sent the next kickoff inexcusably short, the ball was taken at the 35 yard line but only returned to the 37. On first down UTM went to pass and Tennessee rushed 5. Walker managed to smack Carr as he threw the ball deep but Taylor Stanley managed to beat Gordon for a big gain of 47yards into the red zone at the 16 yard line! The first-down pass was broken up by Nick Reviez and a second-down run out of the T formation went for nothing, making it 3rd and 10 with 20 seconds left in the half. The ensuing pass from the shotgun was broken up and the short 33-yard field goal was missed wide right.


Tennessee took over at their own 20 with 10 seconds left. A pair of runs by Poole managed to 18 yards before the half ended with him fumbling the ball into the hands of Thomas. Key first-half stats of note: Score 21-0, Yards 217-85.


Tennessee kicked to open up the second half and Milligan returned the ball to their own 20 yard line. A draw play was stuffed for a loss of two by Chris Walker on first down and a run on second down gained those two back, bringing up 3rd and 10. Thompson came in on a blitz from the 2-4-5 formation and managed to drop Carr for a sack, bringing up 4th down and a punt! Moore took the punt at the 49 yard line and managed to get a nice return cutting back across the field to UTM's 37, where Simms again took over.


Poole went right up the middle for a gain of 5 on first down, and a second down counter got six more and a first down. From there Tennessee lined up in a strong-I formation and sent Luke Stocker on a streak play right up the middle. He split the cover-2 and Simms found him with a on-target pass that carried the tight end into the endzone for a touchdown! 28-0 Tennessee with 2:56 left in the quarter!

UT-UTM NCAA 11 Stocker TD (via bobothebee)

Cunningham gave another touchback, kicking the ball with a 10 mph wind, and a first-down run was stuffed by Waggner for no gain. On second down a solid gain of 4 by McNair turned into a gain of 6 as he fumbled and an Offensive Lineman pounced on the loose ball, bringing up 3rd and 4. Carr went back to pass and looked deep for Milligan, but Waggner, who was in single coverage, got better position and managed to pick the long pass off at the 25 yard line of Tennessee! His return wove through several defenders until he was finally tackled at the Vols' 48 yard line.


A counter play by Poole saw him hit some open space and carry the ball across the 50 and all the way to the 34 of UTM. Oku came in after this run and carried the ball twice for gains of 8 and 4 to put the Vols in another first down situation, where he would take a toss to the left side for a gain of 4 more to the 17 yard line. On second down Simms went back to pass out of the I and found Moore free running to the endzone for his third touchdown toss of the afternoon! 35-0 Tennessee with 29 seconds left in the 3rd.


Milligan returned the ensuing kickoff from 4 yards deep in his endzone to the 22 of Tennessee. A first down screen-pass caught Tennessee blitzing but didn't catch Reviez stupid and Nick tackled McNair two yards behind the line, which signaled the end of the 3rd quarter. UTM then lined up in the Maryland-I formation and tried to toss a quick screen, but this was dropped by McNair to bring up 3rd and 12 from the 20. Carr went back to throw from a one-back look and again beat Gordon, who is a guy whose name I haven't even heard of, to Milligan for a nice gain of 26 yards. UTM went hurry-up after this, lining up in the shotgun and trying to get a pass out to Stankley that was almost picked by Anderson, but he dropped it. A toss to the left was stopped by Reviez after just two, and on third down he found Milligan on the cross beating -- guess who? -- Gordon! First down UTM at the Tennessee 40 yard line. Carr found Hall for a gain of 5 on the next play where Janzen Jackson recorded his third tackle of the game. UTM went back to the option on the next play and, you know what they say, if it's broke you ain't gonna fix it. A fumble on the play was recovered by UT's Art Evans and he ran it back 66 yards through clear daylight for a Tennessee Touchdown! 42-0 Tennessee with 3:46 left in the game! Reviez was credited with his second forced fumble of the game.

UT-UTM NCAA 11 Evans TD (via bobothebee)

Cunningham's kickoff was taken back to the 22 yard-line, and Carr's first-down throw was batted away by Janzen effortlessly. A toss play to the weak-side of of the Ace gained just one, and that brought up 3rd down and 9 for the Skyhawks. A deep pass was swatted aside by Waggner wonderfully, though there was double-coverage this time, and UTM had to punt. Moore got the punt at the 37 yard line and managed to get only up to the 40 before he was stopped and the second-team offense trotted onto the field.


Bray handed the ball off to Oku for a gain of 5 to the left side of the line, and Oku followed this up with a gain of two to the right. Oku went up the middle on the next play and he forced his way inside for a tough 3 yards to get the first down at the 50 yard line. Tyler Bray would take his first pass as a College kid on the next play, hitting backup FB Bartholemew for a gain of 12 over the middle. Oku was given the ball again, but he was stopped for no gain on the first of two carries to him. His second down run he did manage to break open big though, picking up 23 yards to the left side of the line before he was tackled by Harper at the 15. Bray was given the ball in shotgun on the next play and he quickly found Justin Hunter beating his man and a good pass gave Tennessee six more, making the score 49-0 with 1:01 left in the game.

UT-UTM NCAA 11 Hunter TD (via bobothebee)

Cunningham's kick was brought back 15 yards to the 22 yard line by Milligan. The first down toss to the left was blown up for a loss of one by about four orange jerseys, and a second-down toss was stopped by Lathers for a loss of two. A third-down pass to an open Stanley gained 14 against the cover two, though, and on the last play of the game McNair ran right and got stripped by Gerald Williams, with Reviez pouncing on the loose ball. That'd be the final whistle, too, with Nick Reviez named Player of the Game with 4 tackles, 3 solo, 1 TFL, 1 Pass Breakup, 2 Forced Fumbles and 1 Fumble Recovery. Offensively Tennessee's best player was Tauren Poole, who carried 12 times for 141 yards and a score, with two runs of 20+ yards. Oku added 56 yards on the ground and another score, and the quarterbacks were very conservative but not bad: a combined 8-12 for 156 yards and 4 Tds with no interceptions or sacks. Some other key stats: Score 49-0, Total Yards 366-135, Turnovers 3-0, 3rd Down 4-5 : 4-11.


The rest of the saturday afternoon saw plenty of action: #19 Oregon State beat #8 TCU 29-15. #17 LSU defeated #22 UNC 20-9, which really is amazing considering the football powerhouse that UNC is. Scoring 9 points in Death Valley is no small feat, and if UNC played somewhere else I'm sure they'd score, like, a bajillion points (or so). Definitely a good idea to run like babies back away from that game. In the game of the week a 24-point fourth quarter by #5 Boise State blew open a to-then 14-13 game against #7 Virginia Tech to the tune of a 38-16 loss. Kentucky beat Louisville 38-31 in the shoot-out we've all come to expect out of that game.


However, the biggest upset -- and most applicable to Tennessee -- was Oregon falling in overtime to New Mexico 33-30. Oregon had no business losing that game and it would drop them to #21 heading across the country. Oregon turned the ball over 5 times and a 29 yard field goal with 7 seconds left by the Ducks to send the game into overtime was all for naught as Dennis scored from 2 yards out after another Oregon FG to give UNM the win.


And the Thursday through the Sunday was the First Week.

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