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Seven Maxims Scorecard: Tennessee-Alabama

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

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama John David Mercer-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. (1.9)

Playing disciplined football.

Maxim 1

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking it would have materially changed the outcome, but the penalties on defense were especially damaging against the Crimson Tide; extending drives that ended up as touchdowns multiple times.

2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE. (0.5)

Being aggressive and opportunistic.

Maxim 2

Bama had 13 more big plays than Tennessee which is bad. Impressively, the Crimson Tide had another 8 plays that finished exactly 1 yard short of qualifying. Despite a game effort by Tennessee’s defense, Bama was toying with the Vols.

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam. (0.7)

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 energized first quarter, the Defense faded late. As embarrassing as Tennessee’s scoring woes are for the offense, their inability to sustain a drive of any kind is killing the defense.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game. (0.0)

Minimizing opponent opportunity to strike quickly or make a comeback.

Maxim 4

Jarrett Guarantano looked like a freshman, making his second start against the Nation’s best defense on the road. But you have to hand it to him: he is can take a beating and keeps getting up. The offensive line will need to protect him better against lesser competition if they want to keep their quarterback upright.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE. (0.3)

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

Maxim 5

The first downs (35-7) and third down conversions (1-12) are indicative of how dominant this performance was by Alabama.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made. (2.8)

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

Maxim 6

Another solid, yet unspectacular performance from Special Teams. Daniel wasn’t as consistent as we normally expect but his punts still gave the Bama return unit fits, including a field-flipping turnover that should have been turned into points.

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

The offense’s inability to stretch the field stifles the running game, which creates an inability to consistently move the chains or control the clock, which leads to the downfall of a defense that appears to go into each game with a solid gameplan that the unit executes well until they reach the point of exhaustion.

Bottom Line Seven Maxims Scorecard Result: 1.4

The result everyone knew was coming. The defense played valiantly and the quarterback appears to be a gamer. The good news: every team will look slow compared to what the Vols saw today. The vertical passing game and some semblance of ball control must be cultivated if Tennessee hopes win more games than they lose the rest of the season.