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LINKS: Darrin Kirkland and LaTroy Lewis Both Out for Tennessee-Ohio Game

Details on their injuries, the national media reactions to the Battle at Bristol, and more: it’s your Tuesday links!

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Outback Bowl - Northwestern v Tennessee Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Morning fam! Vaguely happy days, here again. As you’re likely aware, Saturday’s Battle at Bristol was indeed successful at setting a college football attendance record at 156,00 fans (or, if you prefer your headlines to sound super ominous, Über 155.000 Zuschauer sehen Vols-Sieg), as well as beating the Titans in ratings (::side eye::). Butch Jones, having both been a ball boy at 1990’s Super Bowl XXV (!?!?!) and courtside at the ‘13 NBA Finals, declared it better than either, calling the win “the best thing I've ever been a part of. I don't think it will ever be replicated." So a successful operation, the actively repellent first quarter aside. TO THE TAEKS!

  • B/R’s Barrett Sallee called it a “statement to [an] unsettled SEC East,” saying “Sometimes you need to be tested to know you're championship-worthy, and Tennessee is well on its way to deserving that moniker.”
  • Tennessee showed heart,” CBS’s John Solomon said, though he also expressed doubts over Dobbs as a passer.
  • Nate over at Rocky Top Insider wrote- well, a lot of things. I’m not reading all that.
  • For Whom the Cowbell Tolls moved Tennessee up to #3 in their SEC Armchair Quarterback rankings, noting that after the tirefire first fifteen, “to bounce back and outscore Virginia Tech 45-10 from that point on was really impressive,” while Roll Bama Roll’s Blogpoll managed to somehow both be completely unimpressed with the Vols and rank Tennessee #4 nationally.
  • Hogwild(2) commenting platform and noted Tennessee mouthpiece Team Speed Kills admired Dobbs’ “tremendous display of versatility,” while noting the continued porosity of the run defense.
  • Something called ChatSports has helpfully gathered clips of all the Vols’ touchdowns from social media, if you’re wanting an only mildly inebriating afternoon pick-me-up.

All of which makes Tennessee’s #15 AP and Coaches Poll rankings the more puzzling. Bring back the robot polls.

Tennessee opened as 27.5 point favorites over Ohio Sunday, a (large!) line which looks to be holding steady in early betting. Good news/bad news on the injury front: the ankle injuries to Darrin Kirkland and LaTroy Lewis both appear to be limited to sprains; according to Butch Jones, Lewis “will probably be out a couple of weeks.”

It’s unclear when Kirkland, who has a high ankle sprain, will return- he’s certainly out this week but will be “week-to-week” after that. According to Butch, JR Colton Jumper, JR Cortez McDowell, RS FR Quart’e Sapp, and possibly even Jalen Reeves-Maybin will compete in practice this week to replace Kirkland’s mike LB spot.

Some folks down in commentland have asked about the offensive line rotations (replacements) used during Saturday’s game. Here ya go:

  • SO Jack Jones moved into the right guard spot after the first quarter, replacing Dylan Wiesman.
  • Starting Sr. RG Dylan Wiesman took over at center, replacing Jr. Coleman Thomas, who was benched.
  • Thomas later played some at right tackle, as starting right tackle RS Jr. Brett Kendrick replaced Fr. LT Drew Richmond.

On Monday Butch discussed the offensive line in some depth:

I thought they played more with a mentality. [...] We were picking backs up. We were finishing plays. And that was a very, very difficult defense to go against because of all the stems that they would give you and the movement of the front. They were very stout.

We knew that this was going to be a game of patience, that we’d have 2-yard runs, we’d have 3-yard runs. We knew that, because they’d always outnumber you in the box.[...]

I thought they made significant progress from Week One to Week Two,” Butch Jones said. “We’ve been challenged up front the first two games, and we’ll be challenged (Saturday) with a very disruptive Ohio University front, as well. Teams aren’t sitting still against us. They’re moving the front every single snap, and they’re mixing up different fronts, so there’s a lot that goes into it. [...]

I think, if you asked every man to a man, they’d still tell you, ‘We’ve got a long ways to go. We have a lot of improvement to be made.’ But I could see the improvement. I think a lot of it is some of the teams we’ve faced.

Elsewhere, Butch discussed the Vols’ passing game struggles, saying “ There’s a number of times the (deep pass) play has been called, and we haven’t been able to get the ball out there.”

The Tennessee-Florida game in Knoxville this year will be the SEC on CBS Game of the Week, because there’s not already enough pressure.

VFL Josh Richardson of the Heat partially tore his MCL Friday in an offseason workout, and is expected to only miss six to eight weeks.

The celebrated Chris Brown of Smart Football fame has a fantastic look at what-in-the-world happened to Chip Kelly the last few years.

If it’s Tuesday, it’s POSSSUMNEWS
In a story we apparently have just willed into existing, there is evidently an actual totally real Possum Bowl held yearly in Lincoln County, Mississippi:

It started in back in 1984. Roe Burns, now a 66-year-old Lincoln County cattle farmer, was a young, energetic head football coach at Loyd Star, near Brookhaven. He was trying to build some football enthusiasm in what was traditionally basketball country.[...]

“We started slow that season,” Burns said “We were 3 and 2 through five games and were about to play a really good Bogue Chitto team that was 5 and 0.”

Before game week started on Monday morning, [assistant coach Ricky] Smith hung several dead possums on the goal posts at the football stadium, He hung another in the courtyard at school.

The blame was placed squarely on Bogue Chitto.

“We just felt like we needed something to fire our kids up,” Burns said. “And, you know what, it worked.”

Bogue Chitto led 7-0 into the fourth quarter before Loyd Star scored late, went for two and earned an 8-7 victory.

“It was huge for us at the time,” Burns said.

“We let those possums hang for three or four days until they were really ripe,” Burns said. “Then we cut ’em down and put them under the visiting stands at the football stadium. I can’t imagine the Bogue Chitto fans appreciated it much.”

Lloyd Star won the trophy (THE BEST OF ALL TROPHIES) this year, 55-0.

Happy Tuesday!