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Seven Maxims Scorecard: South Carolina

Measuring the Vols’ performance against General Neyland’s timeless standards: The Seven Maxims of Football

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Since the 1930’s the University of Tennessee has been measuring themselves against seven keys to winning football as first summarized by General Robert Neyland. The Seven Maxim’s Scorecard is a quantitative and qualitative analysis of how, relative to that week’s opponent, the Vols performed against each of the seven directives. Grading is on a 4.0 scale, with a 4.0 being perfect, which is rare. In this analysis, it’s possible for Tennessee to have won without excelling on all fronts, but it is impossible to have performed well in all seven areas in a loss. Here goes:


1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. (2.3)

Playing disciplined football.

Maxim 1

The Vols played a largely mistake-free game. A few too many penalties but the loss is not a function of the team’s Maxim 1 performance.

2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE. (2.2)

Being aggressive and opportunistic.

Maxim 2

With both teams playing close to the vest turnovers and big plays were in short supply. Tennessee didn’t play for the breaks on offense, and South Carolina didn’t give the defense a chance to make any breaks on their end.

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam. (1.1)

Positive responses to bad circumstances, regardless of the situation.

Maxim 3

Tennessee’s offense continued its season-long trend of being truly horrible following a positive result by the opposing team. After an early fourth down stop, the Defense faded late.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game. (0.5)

Minimizing opponent opportunity to strike quickly or make a comeback.

Protection wasn’t too bad today. Most of the sacks were a result of Guarantano holding the ball too long. But with the offense offering up nothing but 3-and-outs to open the second half, the defense faded badly, finally surrendering the lead early in the 4th.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE. (0.7)

All about fundamentals; the little things. Many of them, not stat-friendly.

Maxim 5

A great example of “the little things” that aren’t stat-friendly, would be physicality. South Carolina was by-far the more physical team in the second half. The result: a 12-play, 95 yard drive that used up 6:28 of the 3rd quarter followed by a 16-play, 72 yard drive that consumed 9:10 of the 4th quarter. It was like watching a boa constrictor choke the life out of a victim.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made. (2.6)

Special teams held a special place in the General’s heart.

Maxim 6

Special teams had a solid, if unspectacular day. Daniel put up good statistics but outkicked his coverage on the 72-yarder. Good to see Tennessee making field goals again. That may yet win a game or two this season.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes. (0.7)

Coaching staff’s gameplan… and the players’ execution of it.

Maxim 7

Once Butch Jones made the decision to go with Jarrett Guarantano at QB, everyone (especially on South Carolina) knew what the gameplan would be. The Vols looked better early, but had no answer once the Gamecocks made adjustments. Tennessee must get reserves onto the field earlier in the game on Defense. They’re consistently fading in the fourth quarter.

Bottom Line Seven Maxims Scorecard Result: 1.4

For the second time this season, an average-to-mediocre football coach with an extremely average-to-limited football team looked at the game tape, looked across the field, and said “as long as we don’t beat ourselves, I don’t think Tennessee can beat us.” With the exception of next week’s Alabama beatdown, the rest of Tennessee’s season will look exactly like the South Carolina and Florida games. That’s not to say Tennessee is destined to lose them all, but no one left on the schedule will fear Tennessee’s offense. Everyone left on the calendar will play with a presumption that Tennessee’s Defense will fade late… that this year’s special teams aren’t all that special… and that they need not worry about being out-schemed or out-coached.

On to Bama…