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Rocky Top Talking Points: Tuesday

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  • If you haven't read the AP story "Vols Find Strength in an Empty Stadium" yet, you should.
  • Give former Vol QB and current graduate assistant Rick Clausen some credit for the third quarter offensive explosion against Cal.  He and coach Cutcliffe picked up on Cal's defensive backfield signals, which led to several excellent calls.
  • Give the offensive line credit for protecting Erik Ainge, who was never knocked down and was rarely pressured.  Offensive guard David Ligon kept Cal's All-American tackle Brandon Mebane quiet all night.  "He knocked me back a couple of yards a lot of times," Ligon said. "But we kept after him, Arron (Sears) and I. Every time we were in the huddle, we talked about punishing him and making him want to quit, and I think he did that."  Mebane said after the game that the Vol o-line was the best he'd faced at Cal.
  • Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo was recognized as both the SEC defensive player of the week and the Walter Camp national defensive player of the week.  Mayo, who'd sprained an ankle earlier last week in practice, had all of UT's three sacks against Cal, and said he was only at about 80%.  Wonder what he can do at 100%.
  • Receiver Bret Smith suffered a concussion Saturday night and did not practice Monday.  The teams expects that he'll be available for the Air Force game.  Smith graded out well against Cal, better even than Robert Meachem, who turned two short receptions into long touchdowns.  Meachem's grade suffered a bit because he actually ran two yards further than he was supposed to on the two TDs.  Mistakes we can live with.
  • College Football News has the Vols at No. 7 following the Cal game.  They dropped Cal to 22.
  • Check out this quote from the Tennessean:  
    Soon after his return to Tennessee was formally announced last winter, one of the first things David Cutcliffe did was sit down with Erik Ainge.

    Cutcliffe told Ainge what a great guy he thought he was, told him how impressed he was with how he handled the Vols' struggles last season publicly, complimented his work ethic and what he was doing to get ready for his junior season.

    Then came the clincher.

    "I like everything except for the way you play quarterback," Cutcliffe told Ainge. "I'm going to change how you play quarterback."

  • So far, so good.