| FTBL Preseason Capsule; University of Tennessee



Preseason Capsule;
University of Tennessee

by bamafan4ever

Game 8 (October 25th, 2008)
Neyland Stadium (102,038)
Knoxville, TN
Time: TBA

Quick Hits:

2007 Record: 10-4
SEC: 6-2

Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer, 17th year, 147-45
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Clawson, 1st year
Defensive Coordinator: John Chavis, 14th year

Key Starters Returning:

Jonathan Crompton, QB, Jr. (Att. 12, Comp. 7, Yards 97, TD’s, Int. 2)
Arian Foster, RB, Sr. (Carries 245, Yards 1193, TD’s 12)
Eric Berry, SS, So. (Interceptions 5, Yards 222, TD’s 1)


Coach Phillip Fulmer/Courtesy of bleacherreport.com


It has taken Coach Phillip Fulmer 17 years to take the Volunteers from a middle of the pack SEC football club, to a National Championship in 1998 and back to relative obscurity in 2008. Yes, Tennessee did win 10 games 1 year ago and even played LSU for the SEC Championship. Yes, the Volunteers will field quite possibly the best secondary in college football this year. The obscurity has been created by a media that can’t seem to find a way to crown the Bulldogs in Athens as National Champs fast enough. They also can’t wait to whisper sweet nothings about Tim Tebow as they adorn him with his Superman mantle and his 2nd Heisman Trophy in as many years. Yes, the talk has been all about the Bulldogs and Gators in SEC circles this year and Tennessee has the misfortune of sharing membership in the SEC East with both programs. Alabama fans will take no pity on their *“3rd Saturday in October” neighbors to the north but it would be a huge mistake for opposing coaches to take the Vols as lightly as the press has seemed to do this season.

*(The 3rd Saturday in October will once again be played on the 4th Saturday of October. Thanks to the SEC league office for honoring one of its own great traditions by having Alabama face Ole Miss on the 3rd Saturday in October. Good work guys.)



QB Jonathan Crompton/Photo courtesy timesfreepress.com

With the departure of David Cutcliffe to Duke University, the unveiling of former Richmond Spider coach Dave Clawson’s offense will occur in the Rose Bowl versus the UCLA Bruins. What will be seen out of the Volunteer offense remains a mystery. Much like former Alabama coach, Dennis Francione, Clawson has a vague philosophy on offense that includes the coach-speak phrases of “getting individual playmakers more touches” and “maximizing available talent”. Clawson did run a relatively wide open offense with the Spiders that featured the spread attack but is expected to use a power running attack, pro-style formations with some spread option plays mixed in for the Volunteers. Clawson will not have the luxury of a battle tested veteran at QB as he will rely on Jonathan Crompton, a third year QB that has been waiting for Erik Ainge to graduate. Crompton seemingly secured the starting QB role during spring training but was unable to lead the Vol offense to a TD during the Volunteer’s last fall scrimmage. At 6’ 4” and 220 pounds, Crompton has all of the physical attributes of a good SEC QB including a strong arm. What he lacks in experience will certainly need to be made up in ability.

Joining Crompton in the backfield will be the talented senior RB Arian Foster. When Clawson refers to getting the ball in the hands of playmakers, he likely has Foster in mind. Foster will likely break the Tennessee all-time rushing mark this season. Last season, Foster carried the ball for a 4.9 yard per carry on average, 1,193 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also 4th on the team with 39 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns. In Clawson’s offensive system, it would be safe to say the Volunteers will go to Arian Foster in the air even more this season. Foster will run behind an experienced offensive line that sees 4 out 5 starters returning, anchored by senior LG Anthony Parker (6’ 3” 300 pounds).

Clawson is also taking a page out of Houston Nutt’s playbook and has said he will use sophomore WR Gerald Jones in a specific package designed for him at QB in the zone read option when the Volunteers operate in the red zone. Jones played QB in high school and has speed to burn. Senior WR Lucas Taylor leads a talented and experienced corp of receivers for the Volunteers in ’08. Taylor was targeted for 73 receptions in 2007 and produced 1000 yards. He also scored 5 touchdowns.

The talent is there for Tennessee to be very good offensively this year. A large part of the success of the Volunteers will be at the feet of Jonathan Crompton. By the end of September, fans will know just how good this Tennessee offense can and will be after facing UCLA, Florida and Auburn in three of its first 4 games.



SS Eric Berry/Photo courtesy of Georgia.scout

Sophomore SS Eric Berry leads a very talented group in the secondary for long time defensive coordinator, John Chavis. Berry tallied 5 interceptions for the Volunteers last season, returning one for a touchdown. Junior CB Demetrice Morley has seen his stock rise during fall camp this season with an excellent showing in Tennessee’s first scrimmage. With the return of Marsalous Johnson and Antonio Gaines from injury last season, the Volunteers find themselves knee deep in talent in the secondary.

The defensive front seven for the Volunteers is as inexperienced as any Tennessee team in recent memory and it is speculated to be the Volunteers Achilles heel. Junior Rico McCoy is the lone returning starter at linebacker. Senior DT Demonte Bolden finds himself lacking any sort of back up from the bench and look for Chavis to rotate in a lot of players early on in ’08. Tennessee knows its strength lies within the secondary and feels it can maintain man on man coverage with most teams. This being said, Tennessee will use a lot of multiple looks and blitz packages to compensate for lack of experience along the line. It’s a good decision as long as the secondary plays up to its full potential.

Special Teams


P Britton Colquitt/Photo courtesy of knoxnews.com

Punter, Chad Cunningham will fill in for suspended Britton Colquitt, who was arrested in the off season due to a DUI charge. The latest version of the “Kicking Colquitts” will be out of commission for the first 5 games of the season serving his suspension and will no doubt have to earn his spot back.

Punt and kick return specialists for UT this season replace graduating seniors from last season. SO Daniel Lincoln will return kicks for the Vols and SO Chad Cunningham will do the honors returning punts. Also look for true freshman phenom EJ Abrams-Ward to make some kind of impact on special teams and other offensive positions on the field. Abrams-Ward played QB in high school and the 6’ 5” freshman was also a high school basketball star.

Preseason Prediction


3rd Saturday in October/Photo courtesy of D.Moore

Tennessee obviously matches up well with any passing attack that Alabama can muster but that doesn’t mean that Alabama can’t have success against Tennessee in the air (see 2007). Where Alabama does seem to really overshadow the Vols is when the Vols front 7 will try to find a way to counter the experienced and talented OL of Alabama. Alabama may fair very well in a grind it out type of game versus the Volunteers. When Tennessee has the ball, they may be facing the next best secondary in the SEC in Alabama. Cromptom will have some major battle experience by the time he faces the Tide but he will need to be nearly perfect to win the game. The jury is just simply out for the Tennessee Volunteers. Just maybe the press is correct in just acting like the Vols don't even exist when it comes to contending for the East division?

Alabama 24 Tennessee 10
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