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Tennessee Football’s Seven Game Maxims Scorecard: Georgia Tech

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

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Tech
Maxim 1: The Team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
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.


1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. (4.0)

Playing disciplined football.

Maxim 1

Maxim 1 was the difference in this outcome. We can admire the Vols’ fight and their willingness to never quit but if Georgia Tech doesn’t turn the ball over twice, and if their placekicker had done his job, the outcome of this game would have been decidedly less orange.

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

Being aggressive and opportunistic.

Maxim 2

Tennessee took both fumbles and the possession following the missed FG in for touchdowns. And the fumbles weren’t the product of bad option play. They were the result of a big hit and a downfield pursuit by a defense that spent too much time on the field. That’s what playing for the breaks is all about.

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam. (2.9)

Positive responses to bad circumstances, regardless of the situation.

Maxim 3

It took Tennessee a little over half the game to get into rhythm… not entirely unexpected in game 1, with a new quarterback, and a defense playing without their quarterback going up against the cut-blocking voodoo that is the triple-option. But the Vols didn’t panic when they lost their top offensive threat in the first half, didn’t abandon the gameplan when they went down 14 early in the 3rd, avoided the temptation to “shake things up” with a quarterback switch, answered touchdown for touchdown in the second half, and got the game into OT where anything could happen. A gutsy, if not great performance.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game. (1.3)

Minimizing opponent opportunity to strike quickly or make a comeback.

Maxim 4

Time of possession has never been a stat Butch Jones has cared about. But the plays run? …ooff! And it must be said that, for all the guts, moxie, resiliency showed by the defense, Tech had a very make-able field goal to win the game in regulation. Kudos to the Tennessee special teams for blocking it, but that ball was only about 4 feet off the ground when it got to the line of scrimmage; more of a Tech miscue than anything else.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE. (0.8)

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

Maxim 5

Georgia Tech statistically dominated this game.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made. (3.5)

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

Maxim 6

But, along with turnovers, Special Teams are the great equalizer. Tennessee gained about 12 yards of field position every time the teams exchanged punts. They started further up field by about 15 yards every time there was a kickoff. And Georgia Tech’s placekicker had a terrible night.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes. (2.7)

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

Maxim 7

The staff deserves praise for not abandoning their gameplan down by 14; for avoiding the temptation to switch QB’s in order to “shake things up.” The team deserves credit for continuing to execute and for fighting for 60 minutes, plus.

Bottom Line Seven Maxims Scorecard Result: 2.5

Tennessee used special teams and turnovers to overcome a physical and statistical beatdown against a very tough opponent. It’s hard to say what was learned in this game... the defense looked terrible against an offense that tends to do that to everyone. The offense took a while to get going against what appeared to be a pretty mediocre and under-sized opponent. And they still needed some luck in the form of special teams’ miscues by Tech. But this was a tough opponent on a big stage so, as always, we won’t really know more until we get to Gainesville.