Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. VAN)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – November 24, 2018)


Well, it’s over. By “it,” I mean Tennessee’s 2018 college football season. At 5-5, Jeremy Pruitt and his team had two opportunities at bowl eligibility and lost both in convincing fashion. Outside of the Florida performance, no two efforts were less impressive than last week at home against Missouri and the regular season finale against Vanderbilt on the “road.”

15 extra practices went up in flames along with the chances at a sixth win, and this young squad will have to wait for the spring to get back to work. It ended painfully, because Tennessee barely showed any signs of life, and when the Vols did burst one big play into a touchdown, they followed it up with absolutely nothing.

5-7. And when they’ve lost this season, outside of one aberration, BOY have they ever lost. The margins of defeat in the seven losses: 26, 26, 26, 37, 33, 25, and the one three point loss against South Carolina. Yeesh.

Now what? Here are my Big 6 Takeaways from Saturday’s pretty embarrassing 38-13 loss at Commonwealth Stadium, a complete butt whoopin’ by the Dores.

 

KYLE SHURMUR HOLDS PROPERTY RIGHTS TO THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE

Vanderbilt’s impressive senior quarterback finishes his college career 3-1 against his in-state rival, with just two interceptions to go along with 12 touchdown passes in that quartet of games. He’s a great player, but he has always saved his best for the Vols, who this time around made him look like Drew Brees. In the first half, Shurmur completed his first 14 passes before his LONE INCOMPLETION of the opening pair of quarters. He would finish the game 31-35 for 367 yards and 3 TDs.

Folks, that is utterly ridiculous. His last three efforts against UT have gone for 416, 348, and now 367 yards. The Vols secondary, which felt like a bright spot two weeks ago, has been positively shredded over the last two games, as both Drew Lock and Shurmur have obliterated them through the air. The two QB performances, the accuracy and the playmaking ability to balance the running attack are two of the MANY reasons the Vols have no more football to play in 2018.

 

SPEAKING OF QBS

I have no idea whether or not Jarrett Guarantano is a “good” quarterback, because with the OL woes, what feels like sub-par rookie play calling from Tyson Helton, and health issues, he hasn’t had the best of opportunities to shine. That said, murmurs of protection problems and his inability to recognize vulnerabilities in front of him before the snap emerged at midseason. We saw him make some pretty throws at times, and there’s no doubt he’s hurting after the plethora of big hits he’s sustained, but he feels quite average right now.

Against Vanderbilt, just as against Missouri, he wasn’t good, this time 13-29 for 139 yards, a TD to Marquez Callaway in the fourth quarter with the game basically decided, and an interception. He’s been pedestrian or suboptimal throughout this stretch, and questions will be there as to whether he’s “the guy” next year.

 

TYSON HELTON IS DEFINITELY A ROOK

It wasn’t a hire that resulted in much of a reaction from Vols fans, and after this season, questions will be asked. When a team has a weapon like Ty Chandler and a total inability to run behind its guards, the expectation has to be to adjust to either a toss or screen game, finding ways to get your speedster, or for that matter any of your running backs, in places where they can operate.

Instead, it’s been more of the same. We haven’t seen adjustments and haven’t seen any semblance of aggression, creativity, or awareness in the offense since the Kentucky win in Knoxville two weeks back, which feels now like an eternity ago. Helton’s final analysis is going to put him in the C- territory at best, but more likely a D+. He failed to take advantage of places he had pluses, and instead accentuated the minuses and the shortcomings of his offense. The past two weeks, the game plan has been unacceptably bad, and the execution has made it even worse.

 

CHANDLER RUN THE SINGULAR BRIGHT SPOT OF THE DAY

Outside of Ty Chandler’s 75-yard third quarter touchdown, the Vols managed a measly 167 yards on its other 46 plays. Yes, that’s disgustingly bad. Also, outside of the one ten play and one nine play drive, it was largely a Three and Out show. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt ran 80 offensive plays and especially in the first half, summarily destroyed and dismantled Tennessee’s defense both with Shurmur and the passing game as well as on the ground.

Chandler is wasted potential and wasted talent at present in Knoxville. Next year, people will talk about how it’s going to be HIS YEAR, but that’s going to be up to the recruiting. If the OL stinks again, I have no faith in Tyson Helton’s ability not to find ways to handcuff his most explosive weapon and snatch yardage away from him.

For the season, Chandler should have been used more often, but even when he was, the numbers didn’t accompany him due largely to the offensive at large. The 75-yard score was solid, but his other six carries went for 13 yards. Tennessee cannot run the ball, and never found a way to at least use short passing as its own brand of rush attack.

 

PRUITT (QUESTION MARK, QUESTION MARK, QUESTION MARK)

Two weeks ago, Laura Rutledge tweeted out Pruitt’s name for SEC Coach of the Year following the Kentucky victory. At the time, she wasn’t alone, as even I had to step back and say a 5-5 mark considering what he had to work with was mightily impressive, especially with a road win at Auburn and a second top-15 upset win.

But today, Jeremy Pruitt is just another question mark in a program full of them. From Guarantano to the OL to the secondary to the lack of size in the trenches on both sides to Tyson Helton and finally to Pruitt, what did we just watch? We watched a 5-7 team limp and fail to reach the finish line, leaving “maybe next year” as the most hopeful thing the fan base can say.

Pruitt showed moments of grandeur and he showed aggression his predecessor lacked, but he also displayed a lack of logic and a propensity to be outcoached by guys you’d expect him to be better than. He was outclassed in Nashville by Derek Mason, a guy who might have been coaching for his job against Tennessee, but who ran circles around Pruitt on this Saturday.

It’s all going to come down to Jeremy Pruitt’s ability to recruit. He’s not someone that just targets all the four and five star kids, instead he believes in watching plenty of film, finding the young men that are a fit for the program, and even sitting prospective players down and showing them tape of their worst plays, rather than blowing smoke. So it might not be “Top 10” recruiting class, unless those the services believe are the best indeed are for Tennessee. Pruitt is going to do it his way, which means if it doesn’t work, there won’t be any safety valve.

It’s too early to tell if Pruitt is the answer. He walked into a cupboard more barren than some knew, he was undermanned, but its his staff that bothers you. He has such a lack of experience on the sidelines or the booth with the assistants and the coordinators and position coaches. This is a very young group. So, there would be ups and downs.


THE LAST WORD

Wait, where’s the sixth takeaway? If that’s what you’re asking, there are only five takeaways today, because the Vols couldn’t get to six. Five wins, the end of the season, a smorgasbord of questions and concerns, and an Incomplete on the report card. The fans aren’t apathetic in Knoxville and they’ll be hopeful for next season, but the last two weeks have to hurt anyone wearing the orange. Two chances at a bowl dashed by Missouri and Vanderbilt, the latter of which has now beaten Tennessee five of the last seven times they’ve played.

It’s a wait-and-see for Tennessee Volunteers football. 12 games into his coaching career, Jeremy Pruitt is 5-7, and I’m not certain, nor is anybody else, what his ceiling is and how much he still has to learn. He loves the game, eats, sleeps, and breathes the game, so he’ll put in the work. But, sports is a results-based business. Eventually, he’s going to have to start winning against South Carolina, against Missouri, certainly against Vanderbilt, and not watching his team underwhelm against lesser competition and sleepwalk to victories.

There is a LOT left to be determined about Tennessee football, but due to the Volunteers’ effort, or lack thereof, against Vanderbilt, nothing more will be learned for the next several months.

Blogs

B6B: True Detective S3E3 Review

B6B: True Detective S3E3 Review

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 22, 2019) TRUE DETECTIVE: SEASON 3, EPISODE 3: THE BIG NEVER It was just a case when I caught it. I didn’t know it’d be my last. – Wayne Hays First off, apologies for the timing of this piece, as I was out of town all weekend and did…

B6B: Split (2016) Retro Review

B6B: Split (2016) Retro Review

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 15, 2019) We look at those that are shattered and different as less than. What if they’re more than us? – Karen Fletcher *This deep dive comes with the same disclaimer as the Unbreakable piece from last week. If you haven’t seen these films and want to, this is…

B6B: True Detective – Season 3 Premiere Review (Eps 1-2)

B6B: True Detective – Season 3 Premiere Review (Eps 1-2)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 13, 2019) EPISODE 1-2: THE GREAT WAR AND MODERN MEMORY / KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE Whether you loved it or hated it, I have a hard time believing anybody who watched the two episode Season 3 premiere of True Detective didn’t find it much more approachable and engaging than its…

B6B: Unbreakable (2000) Retro Review

B6B: Unbreakable (2000) Retro Review

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 10, 2018) In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most times, they’re friends, like you and me. – Elijah Price First off, a warning. Usually, you can rest assured that film reviews I…

B6B: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. IND – SNF)

B6B: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. IND – SNF)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – December 30, 2018) Waking up Sunday morning to news of Marcus Mariota’s inability to play in the season finale against the Indianapolis Colts helped to crush the already fragile hopes of Tennessee Titans fans who already knew the best player on the team, Jurrell Casey, was finished for the year.…

Titans vs Colts on Sunday Night Football: Everything You Need To Know

Titans vs Colts on Sunday Night Football: Everything You Need To Know

The Tennessee Titans (9-6) host their AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts (9-6) Sunday night for the final game of the NFL regular season.

The winner will advance to the playoffs, while the loser will be eliminated from postseason contention.

Kickoff at Nissan Stadium is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. CST on December 30th.

Join 104-5 The Zone as we broadcast live outside of the Titan Up Tailgate starting at 5:30pm. There will be a chance for you to win a custom Orca Cooler from Titans Radio and Farm Bureau Health Plans autographed by Titans HC Mike Vrabel.

B6B: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. WAS – And Sunday Aftermath)

B6B: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. WAS – And Sunday Aftermath)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – December 23, 2018) Some wondered where this piece was last night, but it didn’t make sense to write something that could be rendered outdated or obsolete within 24 hours due to results of other games. So, now that we KNOW quite a bit more, let’s talk about what happened yesterday…

B6B: Vince McMahon No Longer Gets It

B6B: Vince McMahon No Longer Gets It

  By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – December 22, 2018) “Nothing’s working. The ratings are in the tank. Not just bad, we’re talking historically awful! What’s wrong with my company! I’m the smartest man alive when it comes to this, that’s why I took out my competition and left them hosting podcasts about what went awry…

B6B: Aquaman Review

B6B: Aquaman Review

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – December 20, 2018) DC is still looking for sustained success with its major blockbuster motion picture properties. It’s not that every entry has been a disappointment, nor is it that what has come thus far hasn’t been profitable. Films based on superheroes are cash cows, with Marvel owning five of…

Titans vs Redskins: Gameday Info

Titans vs Redskins: Gameday Info

The Tennessee Titans (8-6) look to keep their playoff chances alive Saturday afternoon as they face the Washington Redskins (7-7). Kickoff at Nissan Stadium is scheduled for 3:30pm CST on Saturday, December 22nd.
Join 104-5 The Zone as we broadcast live outside of the Titan Up Tailgate starting at 12pm. There will be a chance for you to win a custom Orca Cooler from Titans Radio and Farm Bureau Health Plans autographed by Titans HC Mike Vrabel.

Headlines