Cutcliffe likes winning, not fancy numbers

Ainge praised for his management of Vols' offense in recent weeks

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If numbers were all that mattered, maybe David Cutcliffe would be concerned.

But when it comes to evaluating his quarterback's performance, Tennessee's offensive coordinator cares a whole lot more about the bottom line than the box score.

"He's had a really good year," Cutcliffe said of senior quarterback Erik Ainge. "He's done what it takes to win. That's the sign of a good quarterback. He's really managed the game well, knew what we had to do.

"I like that attitude of being a team guy. I think he's done a great job of doing that."

No. 19 Tennessee has won three consecutive games entering Saturday's 2 p.m. kickoff against Vanderbilt (TV: Pay-per-view). It just hasn't won them while racking up Peyton Manning-like numbers through the air

The past two weeks, Ainge has passed for just 253 yards while completing 28 of his 48 passes.

But the Vols won both games, and that's what matters, says Ainge.

"Every quarterback wants to throw," said Ainge, who ranks third in the SEC with 226 passing yards per game. "They'd be lying if they said they didn't want to throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns every week. They'd also be lying if they said they'd rather do that than win.

"We've had games where we've thrown it 40 times and won, and we've had games where we've thrown it 20 times and won. These last couple weeks, we've done what we needed to do to win. I'm 100 percent all about that."

The winning formula for the Vols has usually been on the ground.

Against Arkansas, the Vols ran 43 times for 151 yards, all in the name of time of possession.

Against Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee could have chosen where to pile up the yards.

It chose to run the ball 39 times for 273 yards.

And against Georgia, UT ran the ball 44 times for 190 yards.

UT even ran for 42 times for 211 in a victory over Mississippi State.

The biggest exception in UT's wins this season was South Carolina, when Ainge got away from his usual mechanics while throwing for 216 yards on 26-of-44 passing.

"He had one game, South Carolina, that he didn't throw the ball, physically throw the ball, as well as he had been throwing it," Cutcliffe said. "He's fine. Actually he's throwing the ball better than he was early, just because he's healing a little bit (from a broken finger)."

While Ainge's totals the past two weeks have been his lowest in terms of completions (16 and 12) and yards (125 and 128) this season, he hasn't thrown an interception and has three touchdowns to his credit.

"We're running the ball a lot more than we did earlier in the season, so of course his numbers are going to be a little bit down," said receiver Josh Briscoe. "It's not how many times you throw the ball, it's just the plays that you make when you do throw it."

Ainge's fingerprints are even turning up in the run game.

That past two weeks, Ainge has had the most control of his career on run plays.

"Even though we may not be throwing it down the field and we may not be throwing it as much, from an overall quarterbacking standpoint, I still feel like I'm making big strides and doing a lot of good things," Ainge says.

"The game plan is the biggest issue. We've found our niche, our way to run the football. I think we've kind of found a good medium in winning football games. And until teams change what they're doing, we should be able to continue to run the football."

And if running the ball and controlling the clock is what helps the Vols win, that's what Cutcliffe will do. Even if it might not be his first choice.

"My nature's to be really aggressive, but my nature's to like winning," he said. "I like winning a whole lot more than I like being aggressive."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 114

ksteelescvol writes:

This years team seems to be just that a TEAM. Anige will be playing on sundays in a few years and i look forward to watching him. Stay focused this week boys, we don't care how we win as long as we make it to the ATL...

jawjavol writes:

Glad to see a regular post on here before the negative hijackers show up.
I guess you have the right since so many like myself have been willing to serve in foreign wars so you can espouse your special blend of Volunteer-ism. Hope the name-callers spent their Veteran's Day appropriately!

Go Vols! Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, Sink Vandy

navdocvol writes:

Fun quarterback to watch. I've wondered the last couple of weeks how many yards rushing have been a direct result of his checks and calls at the line. He is in charge of the game when he is under center and seems to be of the cerebral mold that we have become used to. I also wonder how many of the teams we've played this year would trade quarterbacks with UT if given the chance. govols.

beatlecakes writes:

The offense revolves around the QB and the Tennessee players trust and believe in Eric. He has been a student of the game and during his senior year it has paid off. Every team respects him and realize that he will be a solid, mistake free, non-risk taking leader. Opponents have no choice but to respect Eric Ainge and the big uglies up front that protect him...

hcjournals#206623 writes:


We don't care if you're bored. We like Eric Ainge, and he has a great chance of being an NFL quarterback. Please leave your negativity to yourself. We're happy right now. We may get to shock the country in Atlanta...Chill.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

his nature is to be really aggressive?????? who is he trying to kid--must think we are all village idiots to believe that----a steady diet of the all to predictable 3 yard dink out pass rather than throwing downfield, sitting on leads in the second half with this ultraconservative play , rarely having the faith to go for it on 4th and 1---stop with the BS David, Spurrier is really aggressive, you are NOT aggressive and far from it

chrisw2967 writes:

Cut is going to have to coach for 4 qts not just the first half and play not to lose in the 2nd half. I dont know if he goes to sleep after half time or just dont have confidence in his play calling or the players and sooner or later if he dont start coaching for 4 qts its going to come back full circle , it almost come back on him in the south carolina game.

cwisenhower#637741 writes:

Look guys...if any of the players read this, then definitely read this.

Go into these last 2 games like you're playing against Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, or Knowshon Moreno. Keep the same attitude, keep the same mindset, because I'm gonna keep mine.

Just because you won 2 big games doesn't throw away the fact that you lost 3 other big ones. If we the fans have to keep reminding you of that so that you'll leave your guts on the field every week, then that's a job I'll take and I'll keep disrespecting you until you come up with championships.

It's my job as a fan to cheer your victories and rant your shortcomings. If my ranting equals you winning, then I'll rant on, Vols.

Keep up the good work. We'll see you in the ATL.

Feared_Mustang_Package writes:

I'm all for the team effort and love the W's but ksteelevol if you really belive Ainge is going to be something in the pros you sir are delusional.

andy112382#209793 writes:

Why not Ainge? If Grossman can get a job, I would be willing to bet Ainge could get one. Heck, he wasn't projected last 1st round/early 2nd round for last years draft for nothing. Just look at some of the guys teams have to rely on nowadays, 40+ year old guys are starting! Teams would jump to give a 6'6" QB who broke Mannings record for completion % in a season and was coached by the same man.

Feared_Mustang_Package writes:

How big is the breaking of Manning's record when a majority of your passes are 5-10 yard dump offs and curls to Robert Meachem? Comp. % tells me nothing about a QB. It tells what kind of system he runs.

How many college seasons has Ainge made it through totally healthy and with out a mental breakdown? None.

Can you all not sit down and look past the 6'6 and the orange jersey and see that Ainge is just a run of the mill QB that get injured alot and is weak meantally? Call a spade a spade. That's how NFL scouts will look at him, they don't give two damns how Cutcliffe has him managaing games.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

got to agree with mustang---completion % is not an indicator in this offence of 3 yard out dinks and dunks and curls with most yards after the catch-----I think hes a good QB but this passing offence of Cut doesnt give a guy with abilities much opportunity to shine----dont know why any top NFL calibre prospect would want to come to Tenn and play in this passing offence--NFL scouts want to see if a QB can throw the ball downfield well with consistently---I think he probably can but not given enough opportunities to display that for sure----I think he has the tools but I question his leadership---wish he would show some fire and enthusiasm and not act so bored by it all

Feared_Mustang_Package writes:

Let me also say that I wish Ainge the best and hope the kid goes absolutley nuts in the 2 upcomming games, but I'm skewing my view from a NFL teams perspective. One that is about to drop millions of dollars on a quarterback.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Ainge has had a B- year in my book. He is not one of the glaring Vol problems. Kudoes to him and especially the offensive line. Hardesty is unsung hero, needs more carries! Somehow, Vols beat the Dores and stumble on toward Ky! All we should be concerned about! Trap game Saturday, need to put them away early! Go Vols! He'll make a NFL roster, don't see him as an effective starter anytime soon!

eb502us#225637 writes:

Cutcliffe agressive? Since when is a dink and dunk offense aggressive? Bottom line is that Cutcliffe is a great QB coach and a horrible OC. He couldn't make a halftime adjustment if his life depended upon it. Stats don't lie. If Fulmer ever gets fired and Cutcliffe is still on his staff, we'll all know the major reasons why.

GreerVol22 writes:

Lucas Taylor , when healthy is the only threat to go down field...and that's a stretch. Briscoe has the body but quits on routes or usually runs the wrong one. Compile that with a pinky that allows longs throws to float and that why its been a dink and dunk year.
Ainge at best is an NFL backup on most teams, but the NFL is QB starved and San Fran, Baltimore, and others would probably give him a shot.

And as for Cut, the second half prevent offense I preach about is, I think, just silly. Way too conservative and to take 3-4 minuts of the clock we need a least a couple of first downs. Just to many 3 and outs to protect the leads we have from my view. Butt a W is a W.

wuwh_08#331952 writes:

I feel Ainge is a good quarterback. In my opinion after watching him at Neyland this year, he has a tendancy to stare down his reciever and if his man is not open or have enough space he thorows it away. I hate the "Screen" but if the defenders are playing pass then the running back is usually off his block and ready to for a "Swing Pass". I think that if that play was incoporated more into the game we could move the ball a little easier.

jweaver3#395614 writes:

I get it now, this is Volcrackretard and Jwray's
way of showing Coach Phil and the team how much they support their winning efforts
Thanks Guys, I knew deep down you were Vols fans!!!

Feared_Mustang_Package writes:


thats about as far as you can go with that. Good.

phi0129 writes:

Jawja: It seems like every post you call out and make an off-handed snide comment about TN fans that happen to disagree with you. That makes what you say kind of hypocritical as you preach for them to not voice their opinions.

Also, I'm not sure if Ainge will EVER play on Sundays, but I'm really glad that we have had this young man. He bounced back and became a solid QB after the dismal 2005 season. The only criticism I really have for Ainge is NEVER attempting the qB scramble. I have noticed a few times he has had a lot of room (thanks to the baddaddy O line) and ends up sitting back and throwing an incompletion out of bounds as opposed to running 4 yards for a first. Has anyone else noticed this?

And the one thing that angers me is apparent in the statistics. The games we win, we end up running the ball exponentially more. Which is fine, but the majority of it is the STUPID prevent offense we go into after we have a 2-3 TD lead. It's ridiculous! I understand proceeding with caution, but we shut down the whole offense and hope we can hang on. This doesn't allow the kids to learn to play a complete ball game, which is something we will DEFINITELY need if we want to have a chance against LSU and to beat KY.

jawjavol writes:

ESPN projects UT vs Texas or Kansas in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. I have always wanted to see a UT/UT matchup.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot ......wait for it ........ wait for it........Y-A-W-N!!!!! There now my life is complete.

tmartin writes:

yet another stupid reference to peyton manning. he's not playing here anymore so who cares. if ainge had WR like joey kent, marcus nash, peerless price, cedrick wilson, etc. he would own every school record too. and 2005 wasnt even his fault, he was caught in a intra-team qb controversy that was developed between sanders and fulmer that still hasnt been released to the public. if manning had got hurt and then been replaced by a qb with rick's (ability (lets say burney veazey), then he would have had confidence problems too. look how good he was as a freshmen and how good he was last year with WR's.

Stumps writes:

ksteel - good post. Ainge is a solid QB, he's come a long way since his first year splitting time with brett (who's done nothing). you're right, this group does play like a team- which is a far cry from the "all about me" team with kelly washington. It's nice to see that aspect return. Go vols!

jawjavol writes:

Hey tmartin,

I only have one real issue with Ainge's sophomore year performance.I mean here is a guy who comes from atheletic pedigree. He was groomed to be in the limelight and his self implosion began when he was pulled in the third series of that first game. We all know Fulmer was recruiting Jimmy Clausen through Rick but that does not excuse Eric for sulking and sabotaging his entire season. He handled the competition during his freshman year incredibly well. Missed opportunity.

CoverOrange writes:

tmartin, Ainge admitted that he didn't handle the benching in 2005 very well. Not to mention he didn't play very well. If you know something about what went on between Fulmer and Sanders, spill it, don't just allude to it.

CoverOrange writes:

jawja, Sanders preferred Rick coming out of preseason, it was Fulmer that wanted Ainge to be the starter. The Jimmy recruiting angle doesn't wash. Otherwise, I agree about the sulking and pouting statement.

The_View_From_Memphis writes:

Only 3(hopefully 4) more games and the Eric Ainge era is finally over!! Note to Coach Cut and entire staff: Please don't recruit any more west coast QB's. Why(?) do you ask, consider these thoughts:
1) While Ainge and both Clausens(Casey & Rick) have all been good college QB's, they simply could not rise above the level of mere "game managers".
2) The "Golden Era" of Fulmers tenure was marked by dynamic playmakers at the QB position(see Shuler, Manning, Martin). I invite any true Vols fan to dispute the fact that after Tee's departure, the QB positions has been average to below average at best.
3) West coast QB's lack the intensity and passion necessary to excel in the SEC because they're not from the region. They don't get it.
4) I've heard Ainge on numerous occasions admit that he doesn't really tie in to the Vols' many rivalry games because....he's from Oregon, no translation.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Ainge. And I think that the indifference that he routinely displays will actually better serve him in the NFL than it does the SEC. But, Fulmer and staff, please no more QB's west of Texas or north of Kentucky. I truly believe that the only difference between Fulmer's teams in the 90s and the 2000s lies behind center. Go ahead and look it up. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

auttat writes:

Alright, don't argue with feared_mustang_package, he obviously recruits NFL talent.

And don't argue with yabadabadoo, because... well... I think "offence" says it all.

I think it is more important that he wins the games he has left at UT. Who cares about what he does in the NFL? That is all speculation.

KENVOL writes:

I think Cut has helped out Ainge a lot. I also think that his running a no huddle will help him in the pros. I would love to see the Colts get him as a backup to Manning. That said Cut doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body. He is the reason Ainge never throws the ball down the field. Ainge will play on Sundays for sure. He may not be a Brady or Manning but he is good enough to be a very good QB on Sundays.

waterskier3#226480 writes:

well I have to say one thing about david.... he always gives up on the run to early... as soon as we get down 7 pts or and its 3rd and short everyoen knows what's coming.... a short 3 yard pass..... that's not being negative that's a fact :):)
also we've gotten better at running the ball becasue its the typical nov run against less talented team... say what you want but the bottom half of the sec is still the bottom half....

go here's to beating Vandy and everyone saying we're great and give fat boy a raise and extenstion and then losing to kentucky by 20 and blaming on all the negative comments about the coaches........

again if invest in a company to perfom and they are not performing do you move your money or say its ok lets keep underperformaning I'm afraid to change????????

our ROI is below average over the last 5 years.

vol4jesus writes:

waterskier get off the deragatory remarks about Coach Fulmers girth. Do you go up to everyone on the street that is overweight and tell them they are fat? Of course not. You won't do that to their faces. However, you will do it to Coach Fulmer througha blog since you won't be threatened by physical harm. Not by the coach, but some supporter who caves to their emotions and acts irrationally at the moment. Say all you want about coaching or lack thereof, but stop being like a 3rd grader and doing namecalling. GO VOLS!!!

JesseJames writes:

MemphVol....totally agree !!!

volntx writes:

Ainge is a really good player on a little above average team and we are lucky to have him. He will make a NFL team a good second string QB unless he hits the right team ie...Chicago, then I could see him starting.

Cut Aggressive? LOL!

bigbluevol writes:

I find it hilarious that people continue ripping on Cutcliffe. As sjt points out, they are averaging at or around 30 points per game and are a TD ahead of last year. Thinking he's not aggressive is ridiculous. First play of the Florida game last year: Play action deep downfield from inside our 20. Pass was picked off, but had it been thrown with a little less air under it, it's likely a touchdown. LSU last year with backup QB, two deep passes for TD's. This year against Arkansas, the corners are playing off and he calls a double move to Lucas. Only stopped because they were called for holding. Threw deep to Rogers in the end zone but he was turned around and didn't find the ball. I can keep going.

As for abandoning the run game, I heard several boos Saturday as Cut continued running the ball and people didn't like us not gaining significant yardage. However, it paid off when Foster broke that long run. No matter what he does, people will find a reason to criticize him. It's unreal.

hoskinsfive#468391 writes:

If you want to win. Then win. IT's that simple!

FWBVol writes:

I just have one question, after four years, and hundreds of stories on E-R-I-K Ainge, why can't so many of us spell his name correctly? We talk about the team getting back to the basics or whatever, and nobody seems to be able to spell a name that is slightly different than the traditional spelling. That aside, it is about winning. A lot of the West Coast plays are dink and dunk passes with creating space for the receiver. Yes, it would be nice to stretch the field more with the long ball, but I think Ainge's broken finger probably came into play more than the coaching staff was willing to let opponents know.

Sometimes the best coaching strategies are to give the opposition more to think about.

jdcvols#230433 writes:

It is interesting reading all of the back and forth between everybody. Using terms like "True Vol Fans" probably bothers me more than any comment. A true Vol Fan as defined by the Pro-Fulmer people is one that does not post anything negative about Tennessee, Fulmer or anything remotely associated with UT. Maybe the real definition is one that loves mediocrity. He/She is one that really doesn't care about W/L's just pull for the Big Orange. Guys like LargeOrange, Spam are blinded by the Kool-aid.

VolFanInAtl writes:

Ainge played better last year. I think that pinky has caused more problems than anybody wants to admit... or I could just blame it all on Robert Meachem... (why did you have to leave me Robert? :-(

Ainge can get the job done, no doubt.

Screw Maisel, Texas, Schlabach and Kansas, I want to beat LSU!

bigbluevol writes:

For all the people that love to throw out stats that show Fulmer on the decline, here's one to refute your point. It's from the Tennessean today:

Following the Vanderbilt defeat, the Vols haven't quite reached the pinnacle of the late 1990s, but are a respectable 10-5 in the SEC, are 17-7 overall, and are in prime position to win the SEC Eastern Division for the first time since 2004.

What that shows is that the staff has addressed the plummet in 2005 and is on the way back up, as sjt pointed out earlier. All those who accuse Fulmer supporters of being blinded by the Kool-Aid, I say that you haters are blinded by the vitriol. Your agenda is set and it doesn't matter what the staff does, you want Fulmer gone.

mjohnsonvols writes:

I think that true vol fan is defined as somebody who pulls for the vols to win no matter what and does not pull for them to loose so fulmer can be fired. I think the pro fulmer people are trying to say this. Nobody likes to loose as a vol fan, but if we win these last two and go to Atlanta to play for an SEC championship with one of the youngest teams in the SEC is mediocrity? I don't like that we lost three games but if we get to Atlanta then I don't remember those three games and if we do get to Atlanta and win then I think all you haters will have to eat a lot of Crow.

99gator writes:

some of this is glass half empty... glass is half full....

"glass half full"

on the one hand.... you could argue.... tenn is about to win the sec east in a year where the league is as competitive as ever.... with a real shot at winning the sec outright in atlanta, as lsu has made things interesting all season. tennessee has done this despite having some injury problems and some youth in certain spots. they have also taken back their home field, something they desperately needed to do.

"glass half empty"

on the other hand... you could also argue... tennessee got embarrased by florida and alabama, their two biggest rivals. tennessee has a senior qb, does not play lsu or auburn, and is still in jeopardy of not winning the division with florida and georgia in obvious rebuilding or reloading years. and that's a concern, because if you think tennessee is young, check out florida and georgia's two deep. fulmer is 0-3 against meyer and his record against richt is not the best in the world. and bama is not going to be any worse than they are this season.

so, it depends on what prism you decide to view things.

asleep#212036 writes:

Apparently many have forgotten that two of the SEC's all-time passing leaders, Grossman and P. Manning dinked and dumped their way to 10 wins per year. We were the king of the dump it to Nash, Kent, Price, et. al., and let them take it the next 30 yards on their own. That's how Spurrier's Fun-n-Gun worked, and Cutcliffe made something similar work at UT. Both of them stole it from Bill Walsh's 49's. I agree Ainge doesn't throw downfield enough and I'm not privy to the reasons why, but don't underestimate using short passes like runs to control the clock and move the ball. The long pass would be the missing piece of the puzzle but if the D gives you the short ball, take it. If I were Vandy or Kentucky, I would try and stuff the run and play press coverage with help in the short middle/slant routes and make Ainge go up top. What the heck? If they, esp. Vandy, don't try that, they aren't likely to win. Go Vols!!!

DennisVols writes:

Since we keep seeing the bad stats about UT and all the negative talk about where this program is headed I decided to look at the most recent figures to see if all this really added up.
Is UT in the decline? Are we no longer one of the elite? I compared UT to the 5 coaches everyone thinks is out coaching Fulmer. Meyers, Richt, Saban, Miles and Spurrier
Over the last 7 games how has UT compared to other SEC EAST and LSU
(1) UT Average Points Per Game Allowed: 21
(2) LSU Average Points Per Game Allowed: 22.85
(3) UA Average Points Per Game Allowed:24.28
(4) UGA Average Points Per Game Allowed: 25.14
(5) USC Average Points Per Game Allowed: 28.86
(6) (5)UF Average Points Per Game Allowed: 29.14
(1) LSU Average Points Per Game Scored: 36.57
(2) UT Average Points Per Game Scored: 36.14
(3) UF Average Points Per Game Scored: 35.14
(4) UGA Average Points Per Game Scored: 33.74
(5) USC Average Points Per Game Scored: 27.71
(6) UA Average Points Per Game Scored: 25.86
UT, UGA & LSU: 6-1
UF: 4-3
USC& UA:3-4
UT has the lowest scoring defense over those 7 game, the 2nd highest scoring offense and tie for the best record.
Considering how this season started it was easy to get on Fulmers case and the rest of the staff. It was easy to question the heart of the players after the Gator stomp. Looking at this turn around and the fact that UT is right where everyone would hope they would be, in control of the SEC East heading into the final two games it is also hard not to give credit where it is due. UT’s stats and record ranks at the top of the SEC and those coaches who most, including myself, thought were so much better do not have the record or the stats to prove it.
* Information available at:
My Blog:

wuwh_08#331952 writes:

Ainge, LSU, 2005=Enough Said

wuwh_08#331952 writes:

sjt18 I know tht Ainge is not the same. I was just pointing out that at that point he was at his lowest. Everybody is in the Post's are talking about his Freshman year and how well he did. I was just pointing out his Sophmore year. These past 2 years have been great. Especially last year with Meacham & Co. I think Ainge is a good smart quarterback.

99gator writes:


you have heard me say this before... so i know i will catch flack for it... but i can't wait for 2008. i think florida will be what lsu should have been this year.

they get tenn in september with a new qb. auburn comes off the schedule. arkansas comes on the schedule without mcfadden. lsu and south carolina come to gainesville. kentucky loses woodson. and florida state still will have a talent gap with florida. georgia and florida state are the only teams on the schedule who i think will be better at the time florida plays them than they are this year. that's not true if tennessee has a smooth transition at quarterback. but, i think losing ainge will be tough early.

and the man beast with a big red cape will return at quarterback... as will harvin.

Volunatic writes:

Wrong, jdcvols. I have said that a TRUE VOL FAN wants UT to win, and enjoys it when UT wins. There was that "finn" moron who said that he wanted UT to lose so that the coaching change would occur faster, and I DID call him out.
Pass me the Jack Daniels. It goes well with the Orange Kool-Aid.
GO VOLS!!! Beat Vanderbilt!

OldNumber7 writes:

There are some very good posts here showing that UT may be suffering from the "SEC is Better than it used to be" headache - which is true. You guys did a great job - especially dlskaggs on that last post - puts into better perspective. UT being good in defensive points per game seems surprising after the butt-whippins they've taken.

What's annoying about watching Tennessee play is the cycle they follow. If they generated these numbers weekly - that's one thing. But it's super highs followed by the low of lows - and you won't compete regularly for championships/titles unless you are consistently producing those stats week to week. The inconsistency this team demonstrates is the psyche-killer. Tennessee football is like a box of chocolates...

Beat the phooey out of the commode-doors.
More Cowbell!

99gator writes:

just to play devil's advocate again....because there are lies, damn lies, and statistics....

florida's points per game vs. the sec east....


bigbluevol writes:

Rocket - a lot of that inconsistency is due to so much youth on our team. As they've come together and matured, they've been more consistent. Even as poorly as they played in the second half against SC, they only gave up 24 points. They're beginning to make stops and step up. Now, hopefully that trend will continue. As for 99gator's stat, that's not exactly that impressive. No team in the East has a great d.

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