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Three Thoughts and a Cloud of Dust: Send Lawyers, Guns, and Berry and Get Me Out of This

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Rough week on the technical side of things around here: one podcast was recorded and lost, another never got recorded due to various scheduling/technical SNAFUs. Then I wrote a post and didn't hit save. Hopefully our team is having a better week.

--Berry! Berry fixes everything! Except offense: In a Volquest article earlier this week, Fulmer mentions Eric Berry playing a little bit of offense, but says it's not something they'll do until Berry is comfortable with it. To me, that means either they have the plays ready but want to "surprise" Florida with them ("surprise" meaning "not really surprise" like the lame Lucas-Taylor-at-QB play against Cal), or they're waiting until we lose to UF, at which point they will unleash Berry like some unholy monster. Of course, by then it won't matter because Florida will be well on their way to another division title. Sigh.

--Berry! Berry fixes everything! Except... defense? As you've heard by now, Eric Berry will start at safety in place of Jerrod Parrish and Dan Williams will start in place of JT Mapu. I get the feeling that Berry would start at both positions were it humanly possible. The move is to get Berry in position to make more tackles, something nobody seemed to do at Cal.

Here's the negative: I took a quick look at the top 50 tacklers from last year. Of them, eight were DBs (the others were linebackers). Of those eight, only three played on winning teams -- and by winning I mean like going 7-6. The list of teams they played on were no who's who either: SMU, No. Ill., New Mexico, Washington, Kansas St., Marshall, Utah, and Washington State.

I'm all for Berry getting more PT, but what I'm getting at (in a very unreliable, invalid, pseudo-statistical way) is, if Eric Berry is the answer, the question must be "how can the Vols scrape seven wins together." The answer to the question I'm asking -- "How does the Vol defense right the ship?" -- must come from the front seven.

--Revenge, again: SMQ, in his response to the current BlogPoll Roundtable, weighs in on Southern Miss' chances against Tennessee:

Tennessee's already replacing defensive linemen, and its failure to stop Cal in any facet of the game is promising for Saturday, especially where Fletcher is concerned - USM is definitely in it to win a 13-10 sorta game that puts minimal pressure on Young to attempt anything outside of his very narrow comfort zone. Or attempt anthing at all, really, if they can get away with that.

Obviously, they can't, and that's more of a problem if Fletcher is being harassed by eight-man fronts. I have no confidence in Young yet to put defenders on their heels or cause much indecision, because he'll attempt most of his passes in predictable situations, after the run game has faltered, and he's not effective in that role. Fletcher has to get something going to give Young a chance to make plays off play-action. Tennessee's inability to deal with Nate Longshore and Cal's passing game really has no translation because of the huge difference in philosophy and talent from Cal to Southern Miss, but the Bears' ability to run was heartening.

"Fletcher" being So. Miss running back Damion Fletcher, who was recruited-not-recruited by Tennessee going into his senior year:
Southern Miss tailback Damion Fletcher once attended a summer camp for high school players at Tennessee. He came away from Knoxville with a picture of himself with coach Phillip Fulmer and the hope that the Volunteers would call him when it came time to pick a college. No call ever came.

"I guess they weren't interested," Fletcher said.


He rushed for 89 yards against eventual national champion Florida in his debut and tacked up 177 yards and three touchdowns in an upset of North Carolina State.

Plus 156 of the Eagles' 310 in their opener against UTM last week. Good thing we're so stout against the run oh that's right we're not. And by the way, Fletcher's back-up averaged 6 yards/carry in So. Miss' last five game last year. This should be fun. Wait, no, what's the opposite of fun? Yeah, it should be that.

Wow, that was gloomy. Sorry. Go Vols!