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Seven Maxims Scorecard: Indiana State

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

NCAA Football: Indiana State at Tennessee Crystal LoGiudice-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


1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. (1.2)

Playing disciplined football.

Maxim 1

Tennessee looked like the team coming off an extremely short week that they are. Quinten Dormady’s pocket awareness caused the fumble and his interception in the end zone is a play that will get Tennessee beat in SEC play. The normally-excellent punt return unit had a number of penalties negate strong runs.

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

Being aggressive and opportunistic.

Maxim 2

Longtime followers of the Seven Maxims Scorecard (or readers of SB Nation’s always-excellent Bill Connelly) may recall that the Big Plays metric is the single best predictor of who will win (even moreso than turnovers). Tennessee opened with a big play and never seriously looked back.

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up; put on more steam. (2.1)

Positive responses to bad circumstances, regardless of the situation.

Maxim 3

Tennessee led from wire-to-wire so it’s hard to be too critical, but the specific results that were achieved following the limited number of “bad breaks” the Vols saw were not great. Team 121 does not have enough margin for error to turn the ball over against quality competition.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game. (2.6)

Minimizing opponent opportunity to strike quickly or make a comeback.

Maxim 4

Tennessee led wire-to-wire and kept the quarterback’ jerseys clean.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE. (2.9)

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

Maxim 5

Regardless of the opponent, holding the other team’s offense to 0 for 11 on 3rd down conversions is an impressive feat.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made. (3.3)

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

For the second straight week, Tennessee dominated their opponent in Special Teams. Every kick pinned the Sycamores back, every return seemed like it had a chance to pop for a big play. Slight markdown this week for multiple penalties by the Punt Return unit that negated some big gains.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes. (3.2)

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


Good job by the staff of getting the substitutes in early and giving them sustained and meaningful snaps. It was both a necessity of the short week and a plant that will bear fruit as the team moves into the grind of SEC play. The player’s execution was about what one would expect for a squad that had two fewer practices than normal, coming off a double OT game, facing an underwhelming opponent, while looking ahead to a game that stays circled on the calendar.

Maxim 7

Bottom Line Seven Maxims Scorecard Result: 2.3

This wasn’t a great performance by Tennessee but it’s important to remember that the Seven Maxims Scorecard doesn’t grade on a curve. That the Vols were better than Indiana State is neither surprising, nor an indication of future success. Just like last week (and every other season for the past 25 years), we won’t really know anything about Team 121 until they take the field against Florida.